3-course interview: Caroline Rosen

The director of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation on industry challenges
Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com), the annual conference for bartenders and liquor companies, changed hands in February and became a nonprofit headed by former John Besh Foundation director Caroline Rosen. Last week, the foundation announced $250,000 in grant funding for projects focused on education, sustainability, diversity and health care in the hospitality industry.

3-course interview: Rene Porche, chef and restaurateur

The former bounce artist won the Legume d'Or trophy at Bean Madness
Rene "Chef Reero" Porche won the "Legume d'Or" trophy at the second annual Bean Madness competition at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum April 7. Porche, a former bounce artist who runs the restaurant Ma Momma's House of Cornbread, Chicken & Waffles (5741 Crowder Blvd.; www.mamommashouse.com) spoke to Gambit about the competition and her red bean recipe.

3-course interview: Brendan Dodd, 'Bagel Boy'

Bagel Boy's bagels are in 14 spots in New Orleans
Known by most people simply as "Bagel Boy," Brendan Dodd started his bagel delivery service while still a student at Loyola University. Since then, his business has expanded and Dodd now supplies 14 coffee shops with his bagels, including Mojo Coffee Roasters, The Bean Gallery, Sacred Grinds, Cafe Envie and more.

3-course interview: Wade Watson, mushroom farmer

The founder of Pontchartrain Mushrooms on the fungi business
Wade Watson worked for nearly two decades as a chef, including stints at Borgne and La Provence, before founding Pontchartrain Mushrooms. Now he cultivates a variety of mushrooms in Slidell.

3-course interview: Grover Smith, Indie Chefs Week organizer

The event hits Tulane's Goldring Center March 22-25
Chefs from around the country join local chefs at Grover Smith's touring event, Indie Chefs Week (www.indiechefsweek.com), which comes to Tulane University's Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine March 22-25. Smith talked to Gambit about the event.a

3-course interview: Justin Nystrom, historian

On New Orleans' Italian food history
Loyola University associate professor of history and director of Loyola's Center for the Study of New Orleans Justin Nystrom writes about Italian contributions to New Orleans restaurants in his forthcoming book Creole Italian: Sicilian Immigrants and the Shaping of New Orleans Food Culture, which will be released Aug. 1. On March 29, Nystrom leads a talk called "The Spaghetti District: How New Orleans put Italian Food on the Map" as part of the university's Cultural Conversations series.

3-course interview: Peggy Noe Stevens, bourbon taster

The world's first female master bourbon taster
Master bourbon taster and brand strategist Peggy Noe Stevens is participating in two panels at the second annual New Orleans Bourbon Festival (www.neworleansbourbonfestival.com), which takes place March 8-10. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and is the cousin of Jim Beam distillers Booker Noe and Fred Noe.

3-course interview: Ruby Bloch, pastry chef

On competing on reality TV show and opening a baking business
After working as executive pastry chef for restaurants Meauxbar, Sylvain and Cavan, Ruby Bloch launched a solo career last year. She now runs a pastry and dessert delivery business (www.saltandlightpastryco.com) out of her Bywater apartment and recently competed on Food Network's Spring Baking Championship, which airs at 8 p.m.

3-course: Shane K. Bernard, Tabasco historian

The hot sauce company celebrates its 150th anniversary
Tabasco is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. The hot pepper sauce invented on Avery Island now is sold in more than 185 countries.

3-course interview: Kim Dejan, baker

A self-taught baker develops her business at Roux Carre
Baker Kim Dejan just finished a two-week residency at Roux Carre (2000 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 504-875-4293; www.rouxcarre.com), the first in a series of pop-ups that highlights up-and-coming food entrepreneurs at the Central City food hall. Dejan, who recently left an accounting job, now specializes in bite-size sweets at her dessert catering company KD's NOLA Treats (504-345-4555; www.kdsnolatreats.com), and she teaches baking classes for children at the Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center in Broadmoor.

3-course interview: Leora Madden on Women in Wine

A wine education series at Pearl Wine Co.
Pearl Wine Co. (3700 Orleans Ave., Suite 1C, 504-483-6314; www.pearlwineco.com) kicked off its Women in Wine education series Jan. 24 with Kristina Shideler of Arrowood Vineyards.

3-course interview: Lynnette Marrero, co-founder of Speed Rack

Female bartending competition Speed Rack is at Howlin’ Wolf Jan. 29
Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix founded Speed Rack (www.speed-rack.com), an all-woman bartending competition that raises money for breast cancer treatment. The Southeast regional competition is at The Howlin' Wolf from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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