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The Soup Yat Returns
She dresses in a muumuu, wears cat-eyed glasses and has a yat accent as thick as red gravy. She's the "Soup Yat," and on Friday, July 29, she'll be dishing soup and insults at the recently re-opened Maria's Multi-Regional Cuisine (4145 Canal St., 484-1000; When the "Soup Yat" isn't in charge, caterer Maria Vieages runs the take-out only restaurant, which was previously located in Lakeview and Faubourg Marigny. An owner in costume isn't the only unusual feature of Maria's. During hurricane season, the restaurant offers a 10-percent discount to anyone sharing a name with a storm active in the Gulf. "They have to show me ID." Vieagas says, "Everybody cannot be a Dennis or a Cindy." Red beans and rice are common in New Orleans, but Maria's might be the only place serving "Oh Hell It's Monday" red beans and rice. She sells family portions of entrees large enough to feed four and priced under $20. The menu features salads, sandwiches, soups and specials inspired by cuisines from every corner of the globe. Look for jerk chicken, cinnamon pork, spinach stuffed salmon and sweet potato catfish.


Hot August Deals
When things get slow in August, why not throw a Parade of Cuisine ( No, there won't be toque-topped chefs trotting down St. Charles Avenue - it's a metaphorical parade. More than 50 restaurants will offer $20.05 lunches and $30.05 dinners throughout August. Participating restaurants include Antoine's (713 St. Louis St., 581-4422;, Lemon Grass (217 Camp St., 523-1200; and Emeril's Delmonico (1300 St. Charles Ave., 525-4937; A full list of restaurants can be found at the Parade of Cuisine's Web site. Modeled on similar promotions in New York and Washington, D.C., the discounted meals are a great opportunity to try a new place or revisit an old favorite. The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau organized the Parade of Cuisine and hopes to make it an annual summer event.


Master Class
At the New Orleans Cooking Experience 's (2275 Bayou Rd., 945-9104; Great Chefs Summer Series , some of the city's best chefs will reveal their secrets during a two-hour demonstration class beginning at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday through Sept. 8. What makes Austin Leslie 's deep-fried Cornish game hen at Pampy's (2005 N. Broad St., 949-7970; so delicious? What goes into Michelle McRaney 's barbecue shrimp at Mr. B's Bistro (201 Royal St., 523-2078; Other participating chefs include Gerard Maras , Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen's (723 Dante St., 861-7610; and Kevin Vizard of Cafe Adelaide (300 Poydras St., 595-3305; Each class, limited to 12 students, costs $185 per person and includes a four-course meal prepared by the instructor.


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