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Island Encore
Cecil Palmer, the chef who runs the Caribbean food booth at Jazz Fest each year and previously operated Palmer's Restaurant in Mid-City, is back making his jerk chicken, fish and other island specialties at Café Negril (606 Frenchmen St., 944-4744). Palmer had been cooking from the open kitchen at the rear of this Marigny nightclub and restaurant before the storm, and his return marks the restoration of authentic Jamaican meals to the neighborhood. While reggae music pulses up front, Palmer cooks dishes like curried goat, Caribbean roasted pork, duck, oxtails, Bahamian chowder and vegetarian plates. Café Negril serves dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

Seeing Seafood
Herbsaint Bar & Restaurant (701 St. Charles Ave., 524-4114; ) is hosting a special seafood dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 24, in appreciation of the local commercial fishing community that was so hard hit by Hurricane Katrina. Chef/owner Donald Link will prepare a menu including baked oysters with bacon and Herbsaint hollandaise, crawfish and rice casserole with tarragon herb salad, blue crab salad with beets and avocado, and sauteed fish with shrimp risotto and blue crab broth. Fortunately, the dessert course does not include seafood and instead is a chocolate tart made with Louisiana pecans. Industry experts will be on hand to discuss the local seafood business, which leads the nation in the production of oysters, crawfish and shrimp and is second only to Alaska in overall fisheries output. Reservations are limited to 50 people. The dinner begins with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per person (or $95 with wine pairings), and Herbsaint will donate half of the proceeds to the Crescent City Farmers' Market (, which provides a direct marketplace for local fishermen.

Besh Buys La Provence
Chris Kerageorgiou sold his Northshore French restaurant La Provence (25020 Hwy. 190, Lacombe, 985-626-7662; to his one-time employee John Besh. Kerageorgiou hired Besh as his chef de cuisine in 1995, and today both chefs acknowledge a mentor/protégé relationship. Besh went on to other restaurants including Artesia on the Northshore. In 2001, he opened Restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St., 299-9777; and later Besh Steakhouse at Harrah's Casino (8 Canal St., 533-6111; La Provence has been in business since 1972, luring city dwellers to make the hour drive to Lacombe for cuisine and atmosphere inspired by the French country inns of its founderÕs homeland. Kerageorgiou, 79, has suffered health problems recently and spent part of the holiday season in the hospital. Besh plans to take over the restaurant soon but says he has no intention of changing the place and will spend most of his time cooking at his flagship Restaurant August. A round of renovations is planned for the summer. Kerageorgiou, meanwhile, will retain the title of "honorary chef."


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