I hope you like pictures. You do? Because Danielle Does New Orleans is going to be mostly pictures and very few words.
A couple of months ago, I got an email from The Southeast United Dairy Industry Association asking if I would be interested in attending an exclusive media training and culinary experience in The Big Easy. My thoughts at the time: “Do people actually ever say no to this?” “Is this a joke?” “Heck yeah, sign me up!”
Of course, I replied in a slightly more formal fashion.
Let me first say that I am thrilled, honored, humbled, flattered, and floored to have been among the seven chefs, dietitians, and culinary professionals invited. I spent 24 hours with an incredible group of people — the team from The Dairy Industry Association, our media trainer Joan Horbiak, Chef John Folse and Restaurant Revolution, my colleagues — all of who imprinted upon me new knowledge, talents, and inspiration, whether they knew it or not.
On Sunday night, we spent three hours in the presence of Chef Folse, who has been named by the Louisiana Legislature as Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World (and who has cooked for the Pope!!) For three hours, he shared stories of his humble childhood, of cooking with the ingredients found on the swamp floor “pantry,” of New Orleans history, the cultures that inspire Cajun and Creole cuisine (French, but also Spanish and African), and of the Louisiana people.
Chef Folse had a good chuckle when he explained the charcuterie. Charcuterie has modest beginnings. When a cow was slaughtered, nothing went to waste. Families would get together to cure meats and make sausages, puddings, and pâtés, and each family would take home a big package of charcuterie. Nowadays, the fanciest restaurants have the most expensive charcuterie.
The next day’s lunch wasn’t five courses, but it managed to stack up to our supper with a sentiment that gave us each the shivers — in a good way! (Read above if you want some shivers too!)
This lunch sustained us for a day of media training. (Of course, there was New Orleans’ PJ's Coffee in the morning, which is also something to get excited about.) Our training included an educational session about lactose intolerance by Dr. Jeanette Keith – she was fascinating! – and a taste test of lactose-containing dairy products versus lactose-free products and dairy alternatives. (The verdict? Lactose-free delivers the same essential nutrients as regular cow’s milk with the same smooth and creamy taste!)
From Joan, our media trainer, we learned about strong points of view, branding ourselves, mapping interviews, giving quotes and soundbites, handling tough questions, directing conversation — and we got behind the camera to try it all out. My abilities (and confidence and poise) now are tenfold than what they were before this training.
And, if you can imagine, between all the meals and training, I had time to joy walk around the city and snap some photos.
My Danielle Does New Orleans! trip was fantastic and I owe everyone a HUGE thank you. I am aware of how lucky I am and I am so graciously appreciative of every second of the weekend.