What began as a one-day event highlighting a small group of wineries and chefs 20 years ago has grown into a five-day
celebration of all things food and wine. Currently underway, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
features dozens of local and visiting chefs (many nationally known), and spotlights the region’s numerous indigenous ingredients. Additionally, thousands of wines and champagnes from over 175 wineries will be paired with food from more than 75 restaurants at various events throughout the extravaganza.
For its 20th anniversary, the experience has partnered with Fine Cooking
magazine who is bringing some of their top contributing
chefs to host various seminars demonstrations. One of those chefs happen to be native born and raised David Guas of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery
in Arlington, Va. On Friday he will be on the Main Stage, where he will be educating and entertaining a fan base of aspiring cooks with his classic Crawfish Cheesecake. On Saturday, Guas will be judging the 5th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off
and will help select the next “King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood.”
As a New Orleans Wine & Food Experience first-timer, Guas says he is excited to see what it is all about.
“I was drawn to the event as it connects chefs from throughout the state, not just the city, and you get the chance
to experience flavors from all across the Bayou,” he says. “Any opportunity given to me to celebrate the
food I love, grew up with, and continue to cook, is an opportunity I do not like to pass up. It is always great to connect and meet with chefs and others in the industry who I don’t get to see very often.”
He adds, “what city is better to host a food event in? It’s a chance to come home for a weekend, couldn’t be more excited.”
SHM Traveler Magazine had the opportunity to ask Guas more the upcoming weekend and his restaurant.
SHM Traveler Magazine
: Describe some of the dishes you'll be preparing during the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience .
: To start the weekend off and get everyone “sweet” on my eats, I’ll be preparing an Old School Chocolate Pudding with Chantilly Cream and a Bacon and Peanut Brittle. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty, smoky and savory—all of the things I love to do in a dessert. It takes a classic flavor that everyone knows and loves, but then gets a little crazy with the garnish so you have this blend of old and new. It’s always a crowd favorite, and the recipe for the pudding comes from my cookbook
, DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth New Orleans
[Taunton Press, 2009], so it’s certainly one of my favorites too.
I will also be showcasing my Crawfish Cheesecake on the Main Stage. I served the same recipe to the Louisiana Seafood Board when they were in Washington, DC for Washington Mardi Gras and again for an event they had on Capitol Hill. They gave me really positive feedback on the dish, so I thought I would give it a try in my home town. I feature it as a special at my eatery, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, Va. occasionally; and I love introducing people to Louisiana Crawfish. Ain’t nothin betta!
SHM Traveler Magazine
: You are one of the judges for the Seafood Cook-Off. Discuss Louisiana seafood and what makes it special/unique.
: So I may have a bit of a bias, but I think Louisiana has some of the best seafood in the nation. We have all of these outlets of water that just make the area so unique—you have the bywaters, the bayous, and then this beautiful expanse of the Gulf. It’s a blend of fresh water, salt water, and brackish that provides such an abundance of options and gives us so much to pull from.
I also believe what makes Louisiana seafood so unique is that it is such a strong part of our culture, it’s in our blood. You grew up eating the seafood your mama prepared for you, and she learned it from her mama who learned it from her mama before her, and you know they all knew exactly who was taking it out of the water for them. It’s what we’re all about and it’s what makes it special: living off of the land and passing it all down through generations.
SHM Traveler Magazine
: Discuss your restaurant in Virginia. What can people expect eating there? Do you have
any signature dishes or favorites?
: When you come into Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery
, you’ll most likely first find me up at the pick up counter or shouting out Louisiana parish names [meaning your order’s up]. It is all about my hometown New Orleans, so I wanted to make it this rustic, ‘funkified’ southern-style hangout that people would feel at home in, regardless of where you’re from. I put on my menu many of my signature desserts found in my cookbook DamGoodSweet
that people may be familiar with—Bread Pudding, Lemon Icebox Pie, and of course, Beignets—but I also have brought out my savory side with dishes from my childhood and family. I serve Gumbo all day long using my Aunt Boo’s roux, a Cubano lunch special in honor of my Havana-born father, Boudin, Red Beans & Rice, a Roast Beef Po’Boy, and more. What can people expect when they come in? A damgood time.
photo credit: simoneink