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Chris DeBarr
How much do I love turkey necks? A lot, that's for true! I love 'em smothered in ghetto-rific rich gravy that them neckbones give up all by themselves. Oh, when our Louisiana street corner groceries boil 'em in crab boil spices, that's some mighty fine eating -- shredding the tender dark meat off those fragile bones. I will devour turkey necks anywhere I see them, and I love them with grits. A soul food classic!

Naturally, as a hoops player for life, I am a very competitive person, but I always appreciate what everybody does. Like I say, I haven't had any bad turkey necks, but what could I do as a so-called fine dining chef to make the best dang turkey necks that I can do? Well...

Well, turkey necks make a devastatingly good gravy. So I decided to give them a little mirepoix help (onions, celery & carrots) plus turnips & garlic browned in the pot after searing off them necks, with tomato paste & Marsala wine. Let simmer about two hours covered to braise in the oven. Tender meat, pulling off with a gentle tug, dark rich and a whisper of dry Marsala sweetness caressing the meat; vegetables just holding their shape. Good times, agreed? Well, then let's add black truffles. Because even a humble turkey neck, so dark & tender, deserves the opulent aroma of truffles. Blue jeans & diamonds, you know?

Then to just mess with your mind, we confront you with extraordinary grits. Actually, are they grits? See, we started passing jasmine rice through a home brew grinder to turn them into the same coarse, sandy texture as corn grits. Cooked this way, the resulting white, creamy porridge looks like a dead ringer for grits but swings the unmistakable aroma & touch of shiny sweetness of rice right at you, but it's baffling to the senses bcuz we are all so conditioned to think of grits as they always are. Our "rice grits" stop you in your tracks, both familiar & positively alluring in its unusual yet obvious rice flavor.

I was asked to think about celebrating Thanksgiving ideas in a locally sourced food (Locavore is the coined word!) universe, so I immediately decided to call it "What If the Pilgrims Had Landed in New Orleans?!" Feast, and we debuted a bunch of dishes tonight at Serendipity. I had run these turkey necks before, and it's funny how often I get stopped in grocery stores or out & about and asked about when we will feature them necks again. Haha it might be a hot summer day, and I will say "just wait for the late spell of Autumn or our "somewhat imaginary" winter times in Nola.' So we sold a good number of necks tonight and I hope we keep rolling them out. I love to win vs my ideas about what awesome things I can create. Turkey necks in Marsala & black truffles served with our hypnotic jasmine rice grits. Now i can check that off the 'bucket list' of my dream dishes perfected & ready to seduce minds, installing memories that make us love New Orleans even more.

Enjoy this story behind my longstanding love of soulful turkey necks. Catch y'all soon @ Serendipity. Not to mention the rest of the holiday menu, such as our Three Sister Stew, and our bourbon-fueled brown butter on pan-seared Gulf Fish for our 'Old-Fashioned Whiskey Menuiere' sauce, served with real oyster dressing. Turning cocktails like the timeless Old-Fashioned into food...yeah you right! Make a reservation at (504) 407-0818!

PS We all mourn the passing of legendary drummer, bandleader, raconteur and New Orleans treasure trove of music as Bob French passed after a long illness. He was instrumental in the revival of our booming brass bands, and was a great ambassador for our jazz & culture. I loved listening to him as a deejay on WWOZ 90.7FM, even when he was cranky! Truly a legend and take a moment to say praise in Bob's deep gifts he gave to us here in New Orleans. Our thoughts go out in mercy to the family, especially to the musicians he raised -- in his own talented offspring and to the musicians Bob French mentored. Our New Orleans is a better place bcuz of his skill, passion, and fierce dedication to the soul of New Orleans. Stay tuned to WWOZ, especially today (Wed. Nov 14) at 11 AM, for celebrations of the music & legacy of Mr Bob French! It's gonna be a great funeral for a local hero...
What If the Pilgrims Had Landed in New Orleans?
a Nola Locavore Celebration @ Serendipity Nov. 13, 2012

1. Opening Duet:
Crab & Corn Johnnycake with Wasabi Tobikko Caviar &
"Little Mummy's" Absinthe Shrimp Remoulade, w Almonds & Seaweed Glitter
Wine: Scharffenberger, Brut Sparkling (Mendocino) 70 Chardonnay/ 30 Pinot Noir

2. 3 Sisters Stew
Hominy, butternut squash, & black beans
Finished with pumpkin seed & jalapeño molé
White Wine: "Oveja Negra" (Chile) 85 Sauvignon Blanc/15 Carménère 2010

3. Pan-Roasted Gulf Fish, "Old-Fashioned Whiskey" Menuiere
With oyster dressing, grilled asparagus & a bourbon brown butter based on the Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail

Flor del Paramo, Prieto Picudo Rosé, 2010

4. Turkey Necks Braised in Marsala Wine, with Black Truffles...
Over creamy jasmine rice grits that we grind in house!

Domaine Fontsainte, Corbieres (Languedoc, France) Carignan/Grenache 2009


5. Dessert: Cornmeal Crostata
Cornmeal & fresh corn tart, filled with blackberries

Prager, "Aria," 2006 White Port (Napa Valley)

$65 for the feast, not including tax & tips
$25 for the 5 course wine pairing ($90 total)

Thanks to Lee Stafford & Poppy Tooker for help beyond the call of pilgrim duty!
--Chef Chris DeBarr of Serendipity, Nov. 13, 2012

This will be a luscious extravaganza!
So I went on Fox8 TV this very early morning to promote tonight's gala benefit for ReNEW Schools, 'Future Takes Flight' at the Batiste Cultural Arts Academy on 3128 Constance Street from 6:30-9:30 to raise funds to send Nola kids on chaperoned trips to visit college campus facilities to begin getting dedicated to the pursuit of learning. Great cause for kids who deserve that chance!

I also talked a bit about our "Shrimp Wearing a Grass Skirt" in which I tried to slip in modern particle physics theory in an amusing way, declaring the shrimp to be photonic! LMAO I really didn't have enough coffee to truly make my point that our Grass Skirt Shrimp somewhat do look like coconut shrimp but the coconut flavor is instead in our young coconut slaw, made with Filipino coconut vinegar, shredded young coconut & coconut milk....and other stuff, too. Ah well, the joys of improv live TV...my photon statement just stayed shrouded in the ridiculous nature of my imagination. There it goes...and allegedly here is the link to the Fox8 website, where you can see us recorded for posterity's sake.


http://www.fox8live.com/video?clipId=7935417&topVideoCatNo=230843&autoStart=true
So on this Thursday, I will be like a photon, and be in two places at once, sorta! My day will start with a cooking segment at 8:45 AM (God help me!) on Fox8 TV. I will teach how to wrap our Shrimp "Wearing A Grass Skirt" and promoting a great benefit we will be doing for ReNEW Charter Schools, a terrific community asset transforming local schools into college prep programs. Their goal with their first fundraiser, 'Future Takes Flight'is to raise $$ to bring kids from New Orleans schools on trips to college campus facilities, especially to reach out to younger kids so they can become dedicated to dream for success. We are sending some food, our Absinthe Shrimp Remoulade in Dixie Cups, to the benefit.

I will be busy at first on this Thursday night, handling a marvelous & rare edition of 'Drink Like A Pro' with Debra Lewis of Vintage59 and some astounding French wines from the regions of Champagne (legit grower bubbly), Alsace, Burgundy for the whites, and a gutsy Minervois blend and a special old 2007 Cahors for the reds. This is a tremendous value tasting for 'Drink Like A Pro,' just a really rare opportunity to meet these stellar wines with me at Serendipity from 6-7pm on Thursday, Nov. 8.

Then after we do the Vintage 59 feature, we will let 2 attendees get free tickets to attend the 'Future Takes Flight' Benefit for cocktails & snacks. Please read the press release below for further info on this great cause. Make a Big Night of it, and support education for the students of New Orleans.

Future Takes Flight, the upcoming inaugural fundraiser for ReNEW Charter School, is a cocktail and small plate eventaha opening this coming Thursday Nov. 8th from 6:30pm to 9:30pm at Batiste Cultural Arts Academy at 3128 Constance Street, New Orleans, La. 100% of proceeds will help finance chaperoned, guided college trips for 450-500 ReNEW students, to 5 cities throughout the US. These trips help our students, many of whom will be the first generation of college attendees in their family, to better understand the college application process and the reality of what college life is like.

A little background on ReNEW: we operate 5 schools serving over 2300 k-12 students throughout the Uptown and Irish Channel area, including 2 Irish Channel high schools which are basically a last-stop for very at-risk youth that have dropped out previously, been incarcerated, or had other problems which have severely impacted their prospects for the future. ReNEW’s aim is to turn their direction around 180 degrees, and we are making strong headway, with 53% of all ReNEW students on a college track. ReNEW has a goal of making system-wide change in the New Orleans k-12 public education system and is on track to meet a 2014-15 goal of serving 10% of the city’s youth. Our mission has revolved around taking over management of schools with some of the most challenging track records in the city – with the most potential for improvement.

The party will feature music from the Yat Pack and food and hand-crafted cocktails from restaurants city-wide and will benefit a great cause: the cultural education and college focus of ReNEW k-12 students.
Patron Party tickets which include Atchafalaya Restaurant-catered food and a 5:30-6:30 party at head-of-school Gary Robichaux’s house, are $250. Tickets to the main event are $100 and there are also sponsorship opportunities available at various levels for interested businesses. To purchase tickets or for more info, please visit us online at http://www.renewschools.org/ftf.
Vintage 59 "Drink Like A Pro"

Serendipity Restaurant, located in the American Can Bldg at 3700 Orleans Ave, and Chef Chris DeBarr are proud to welcome Debra Lewis, of the wonderful French wine importer Vintage '59 and their amazing portfolio of artisanal winemakers, to New Orleans. Chef Chris is holding a special edition of "Drink Like A Pro" Wine Seminar on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6-7:15 pm at Serendipity.

"Drink Like A Pro" is an opportunity to evaluate wines in a professional tasting seminar, guided by Chef DeBarr, who won Top 100 Wine Restaurateur this past August from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, with another wine trade pro. Tickets are $25, which includes tax & tip, and brings a few tasty morsels from the Serendipity kitchen, too.

Reservations to this special Thursday, Nov. 8 edition of "Drink Like A Pro" can be made at 504-407-0818.

"Some of my favorite wines are carried by Vintage '59," says Chef DeBar, "and the informative Vintage '59 website practically teaches readers vital lessons about French wine terroir in one handy site: www.vintage59.com" The wines Debra & Chef will taste & discuss are quite lovely:

Barnaut, Blanc de Noir, Champagne from Bouzy -- a stellar example of hand-crafted grower champagne at as good a price as can be had in real Champagne country.

Pfister, "Cuvée 8" from Alsace. Talented, young vigneron Melanie Pfister is the 8th generation winemaker in her family, and in her unique blend she gives the 4 noble grapes of Alsatian heritage to us in a beautiful rendering: dry, rich, aromatic & deep...

Domaine de la Folie, "Clos la Folie" from Rully in Burgundy, represents a triumph for organic, stainless steel made Chardonnay. Laid down on the skins to develop a fascinating spice box profile, clean & true to a special 'monopole' vineyard at the highest altitude in Rully, this White Burgundy shows true beauty that is sure to dazzle even experienced wine drinkers.

Coupe Roses, "Cuvée Bastide" a delicious, gutsy Minervois red blend grown on steep limestone hillsides. Great value & even better drinking from a truly proud, idiosyncratic winemaking team!

Haut-Monplaisir, "Prestige Cahors" 2007, from the ancestral homeland for all Malbec, this dark wine brings all the allure of the deep pleasures of Malbec into startling focus, with barrel aging, care for perfect old vines, and natural understanding of that ancient land.

"As any wine lover can tell, these are unusual & important French wines that speak to the importance of place, of terroir, of the ways we all defend the places we love," says Chef Chris. Come see how we celebrate these wines, and learn to truly taste their great nuances on Thursday evening, Nov. 8 with Debra Lewis of Vintage '59 at Serendipity!

Thanks to local distributors Purveyor of Fine Wines for all their assistance in bringing Debra Lewis & the lush wines of Vintage '59 to New Orleans!

On the following Monday, Nov. 12 we will welcome Mike Procido, of Wines Unlimited based here in Nola, to discuss w Chef Chris about the holiday table in "Wines That Aren't Turkeys" for our last Drink Like A Pro in November. Mike & Chef are old friends, and they will breakdown the great holiday wines fit for diverse flavors & wine drinking experience for Thanksgiving & into the holidays. Tap into the secrets & jolly stories as Chef & Mike Procido get you ready for easygoing, but great festive wines!

We will resume with a new set of December "Drink Like A Pro" events, on the 3rd, 10th, and 17th. Stay tuned for more info soon!

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Drink Like a Pro Mondays @ Serendipity

The newest restaurant in the city, Serendipity @American Can, announces a new weekly wine seminar program for Mondays that we call, "Drink Like a Pro Mondays." Chef Chris DeBarr, who won a Top 100 Wine Restaurant in the Nation honor this year from Wine Enthusiast Magazine for his previous wine selections at Green Goddess, is leading wine drinkers to new, unusual wine finds all over the globe at his new restaurant, Serendipity.

"What we want to do with 'Drink Like a Pro Mondays' is to give wine lovers a backstage pass at how we wine professionals evaluate wine-- in little 2 oz. pours, paired with a bit of food from my kitchen," says Chef DeBarr, "with at least 6 wines evaluated in each session." The idea to show & tell about wines, about the grapes in their vineyards & the committed farmers & winemakers who care for their treasured old vines, came from the sheer joy of learning that Chef DeBarr experiences buying wines to match his eclectic, soulful cuisine. It will be a rare chance to share experiences with a wide variety of committed pros who love the stories, flavors , and knowledge of what goes into great wine.

Reservations can be made for "Drink Like a Pro Mondays" at Serendipity by calling the restaurant at (504) 407-0818. The seminar starts at 5:45 and lasts about an hour, although DeBarr cautions that he "loves telling stories so as long as we are having fun..." and costs $25, which includes 6 wines and a glass of your favorite choice, with plates of precise matched dishes to illustrate the character & interplay of the wines.

The first 'Drink Like a Pro' features a New Orleans native, Karla Kilgore, who represents a terrific Spanish portfolio of small producers with Bonafide Wine Estates. Now based in Seattle, Karla graduated from Grace King High School and still has family here! We are proud of her accomplishments & her exquisite, daring palate and can't wait to showcase her treasures, particularly from Galicia. From maritime Albariño, to the ancient & steep vineyards of Godello in the Ribeiro Sacra, to the dark yet versatile red grape Mencia, Galicia offers fascinating wines that deliver depths of delicious history in every bottle. "Galicia," says Chef DeBarr enthusiastically, "is now one of my favorite wine destinations for my food! I am very excited to have Karla be our first pro & I hope we welcome her with a great event at Serendipity!" Karla also represents the better known Spanish portfolio of Classical Wines, where the Cava originates, but we adore finding such small, artisanal producers of outstanding quality in her Bonafide line.

'Drink Like a Pro Monday" with Karla Kilgore of Bonafide Wine Estates is this Monday, Oct. 22 from 5:45-6:45 at Serendipity @ American Can. We will also feature a lovely Cava & a very rare example of the nearly vanished Prieto Picudo grape, which makes an utterly memorable Rosé that sings! There will also be a whisper of Sherry from a small producer that we will all be lucky to have tasted once the seminar is finished! It's all quite a bargain for $25, which includes tax & tips and a few tasty treats from the kitchen at Serendipity.

On Monday Oct. 29, we are very excited to showcase Greek wines from one excellent producer, Ktima Pavlidas, from the Drama province in the northern reaches of Greece. High altitude and natural winemaking lead to a unique blending of Old World grapes, like Sauvingon Blanc & Syrah, with indigenous Greek varietals such as Assyritiko & St. George. We will kickoff the weeklong celebration of Pavlidis wines (Ktima means the equivalent of bodega or estate) with our 'Drink Like a Pro Monday' featuring Chris Badini of Athenee Wines, a terrific importer of Greek wines & spirits. Then we will showcase a "Wine & Dine Me" Tasting and Wine Pairing Menu all week...featuring these great Pavlidis wines & our Serendipity cuisine. It will be a remarkable exploration of flavors & places as we join Serendipity with Ktima Pavlidis wines.

In subsequent weeks, we have my good hoops buddy, Erik Christensen of Uncorked Wines, based here in New Orleans, postulating about the essence of 'Winter Whites' that are deft, expressive & capable of standing up to richer, creamier winter fare. Erik's 'Drink Like a Pro Monday' is set for Nov. 5th, and we have some real shockers planned to illustrate our point!

Then on Monday, Nov. 12th, my dear friend & veteran wine pro, Mike Procido from Wines Unlimited, will sit down with me as we make the point about 'Wines That Aren't Turkeys' as we discuss terrific, yet often overlooked, classic holiday wine pairings. The key to a a happy holiday pairing is versatilty in both the weight & taste, with good value. Mike and I are willing to share our trade secrets for happy wine drinking during family celebrations, which include lovely Beaujolais, sexy Valpolicella, and affordable sparkling wines.

In tandem, with 'Wines That Aren't Turkeys' on Mon. Nov 12th, we are looking into developing a Nola Locavore Dinner, "What Would Happen If the Pilgrims Landed in New Orleans?!!" at Serendipity. Chef DeBarr is steeped in the history of food & ingredients, and he promises to bring his creative pirate mentality to the foods that were here in Louisiana before the European conquest of the Americas. More news on that event, with menu & pricing, to soon follow....

We have more wine events headed your way, including the possibility that we might sneak in a visitor on other weeknights, whenever visiting wine pros from the wide world of Dionysian splendor show up in New Orleans. Please stay tuned...and don't hesitate to leave a message for us at (504) 407-0818 on the Serendipity hotline for reservations or questions! This is your chance to learn how a Top 100 chef/sommelier in Chef Chris DeBarr works to find his rare wine discoveries, every week!

We surely hope you will join us for these inaugural 'Drink Like a Pro Mondays' at Serendipity, especially if you feel like joining Karla Kilgore of Bonafide Wine Estates & Classical Spanish Wines this Mon., Oct 22nd to jump start our festive but very informative wine seminars. We promise that we will all have a ball....!

Remember Serendipity is now open 7 nights a week, from 5 pm - midnight, located at 3700 Orleans Ave. in the spacious American Can Apts, next to the Mid-City branch of the New Orleans Public Library.
So I just had my appearance on Chopped debut last night on Food Network. I didn't watch it as we had a nice bit of business at Serendipity for a Tuesday; besides, I lived it so whatever they say about me is whatever they say. I really liked all the other chefs who were on my Chopped episode, so in a sense there was no competition amongst us, just competing to make our own best food in ridiculous time constraints with silly ingredients was the essence of the challenge.

I enjoyed the process, the interviews gave me time to cut to the quick on my culinary philosophy & to reflect on all the passions I bring to the plates we cook every night. The show itself was fine, a little bit too, too early in the morning so I felt kinda sick all day. My knee was injured pretty badly way back then in Feb when we shot my show, so it was hard to give my best effort as a lurching hop-a-long cook. Luckily, I heard they edited my Chopped so you couldn't tell, which is great-- because once a cook steps into the kitchen no excuses are tolerated.

The stupid ingredient tricks were pretty laughable. I had beautiful thin cut short ribs for the first course, which was ideal for rapid cuisine. I marinated the heck out of them with smoked paprika & seasme oil & much else besides in a twist on Latin & Asian flavors. It seemed like a samba of flavor to me, and I crushed up some baby pineapple (another of the 4 mystery ingredients) into my marinade. We had gorgeous baby artichokes as the 3rd ingredient, too, which pose timing issues always in quick cooking, but these were so tender & fresh that I used them with some minced shallots & lemon zest for an artichoke gremolata that slowly simmered for 10 minutes. The stupid ingredient on the 1st course was Spaghetti-O's. My idea as a poet/chef is always to destroy & transform mundane stupid ingredients, so my battle plan for the Spaghetti-O's was to use my rich marinade on the short ribs as the primary pan sauce & then to purée the living heck outta the canned noodles. My choice? Tequila, of course. So I was cursing under my breath, "Destroy this shit!" So I plopped in the can of Spaghetti-O's into the blender, adding silver tequila, and Sriracha hot sauce and half a baby pineapple. "O THE HORROR!!!" said the Chopped judges. Haha the last laugh was mine, as I used that to give a thick tomato, boozy body to the marinade. Under perfected circumstances, it would be hilarious to make the sauce as wonderful as it could be, with the ridiculous Spaghetti-O element.

I almost ran outta time in the hectic 20 minutes, and they didn't have 4 of the same kind of plate left, but I did get it all somewhat plated. I had wanted to make a lettuce wrap of it all, but well...later I thought it would make a nice quesadilla with some blue cheese & grilled pineapple. Maybe once Serendipity gets to our lunch program, I will finally see thru to the climax the Samba Short Ribs and have a good laugh, "as seen on Chopped on Food Network...."

To me, the challenge of Chopped was to bring my aesthetic as a warrior/poet who loves to surprise tastebuds & culinary expectations without regret. I think that my standards stood up, and in the second round I was undone by shitty subpar Japanese mandolines, which I hate to use so much. Nonetheless, I wanted to make a Mardi Gras mask of thinly sliced potatoes to wrap around tilefish [ingredient #1] (not something I had worked with before as it appears on more Yankee menus -- though I hear tilefish do swim in the Gulf) with strong German mustard [ingredient #2] and pimento cheese [which was I guess the stupid ingredient #3] and then all I had to do was to use gooseberries [ingredient #4] for the sauce...and done. Well, I had to butcher the fish, which is fine but in 30 minutes nobody has time to make a sauce using the fish head & bones. Pointless waste, and I told the fish head I was sorry to toss him in the trash.

You know I am not a morning person, so time peeled off fairly fast and before I knew it, I had exactly enough time to cook the fish, layered with the mustard and pimento cheese. Looking back, when I realized my frustration with the crap mandolines wouldn't lemme achieve the thinly sliced potatoes I needed, I shoulda turned to spring roll paper, which was a dish I have done before. However, I was feeling stubborn, nostalgic for New Orleans, and didn't go all out Ninja for the mind-blowing Vietnamese technique. I really got stuck in my heart on doing a tribute to the old Commander's warhorse, Fish Lyonnaise, which was crusted in potatoes. In retrospect, when you cook from the heart, you just have to live with the consequences.

Hmmm, sounds like another dish to consider although I'm not sure that gooseberries go right with pimento cheese. But wrapping the fish, which I called a New Fish en Papillote, is a neat technique, so maybe, maybe we will present a variation upon the theme. The potato crust belongs to Jamie Shannon and my fond, fond memories @CP, so if we forge ahead, another new Creole style of Vietnamese fare would be my way...

In my Rumi motivated kitchen I have time to work over the marvels in my mind to become perfected reality, bent to the will of my imagination. On so-called reality TV, the terrain is a bit more uncertain for a poet like me, but I think they got something to chew on that showed my creative methods. I'm glad I didn't see the dessert round because, with cocktail weenies, I would have slammed my knife down and said that Chopped has officially 'jumped the shark' into something that bastardizes what glorious food is all about. "Think it's funny to see a chef who has coaxed flavor from great ingredients for 30 years be faced with cocktail weenies for dessert? Well, then, you might be a mouth-breathing idiot who should change the channel and learn about something that matters!" That would have been my passionate screed & rant, then I would have muttered, "Let's go break some equipment," and I would have made molecular nonsense or be damned. Te funny thing is improbably that would have made for great television!

Chopped was quite an adventure. My producer, Rachel, was a dear person who really brought out my best angels as a provacateur poet. I am definitely glad I did it, and if they wanted to bring me back, healed up and plenty dangerous, believe it or not, Mr Ripley, I would do it all again!

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It was a long, strange ride to finally realize our beautiful dreamship restaurant, but finally I am delighted to announce that Serendipity is open! Located along historic Bayou St. John, on 3700 Orleans Ave (next the Mid-City branch of the public library!) as the big, bodacious restaurant for the American Can Apartments, our restaurant really brings all my desires as a chef to a fruitful blossoming. We bring the same sassy strut, the love of the unexpectedly beautiful, and the same flair for relentless creativity that has been my calling card as a chef for these many years.

Finally we have a proper, even a tad glamorous, dining room that gives comfort and elegance to let us take care of our guests. Ed Diaz and Bug Brockway collaborated with me on the look of Serendipity, which we transformed with old-fashioned golden Edison light bulbs, a huge bar loaded with esoterica, and a sleek lounge area where folks can unwind after a long day at work. We aim to be 'a neighborhood joint' with fair prices that get folks thinking about coming by any old time, whether for a quick drink and a snack, or for a lovely multi-course feast.

Currently, we open at 6pm -10 pm for supper, 7 nights a week, with extended hours on the weekend to 11 pm for food and the bar open to midnight. Sooner than later, we will expand hours to include a weekend thing we prefer to call 'Picnic' rather than brunch (bcuz a Picnic is ever so much more fun, right?) and eventually we will morph our Picnic into a 7 days a week lunch service. But for now, as a committed night owl, we are focusing upon the pleasures of 'Supper' which we think of as a time to bring your family & friends together for a festive time to celebrate all the reasons why we love New Orleans.

The menu features a few of the signature dishes we became known for, with a few of them, such as Lafcadio's Creole Cuuried Lamb Baklava now taking center stage at Serendipity. We are playing around with some new things, such as Malaysian Red Curry Goat Empanadas & our Greek "Fish Taco" (which is a Mediterranean daydream about fish as street food, using Gulf fish poached in white wine on a kabob with artichokes & roasted tomatoes, and served on a turnip latke masquerading as a crunchy taco) that expand our range we rove as intrepid chefs, but the we bring out some Deep South old school casserole in my Golden Corn Casserole, with wisps of shredded yellow squash, carrots, cheeses, and baked in individual ramekins in a salute to the soul food I grew up with. I've been making this casserole for almost 30 years at home, but I felt it was time to give it to my people in New Orleans.

We love presenting our treasures here in Mid-City, where we can get back to cooking for New Orleanians all the time. We want to be the big,fun restaurant in this wonderful neighborhood that is right in the center of everything in Nola.

So, my babies, don't be shy & come see about us here at Serendipity. (504) 407-0818 to make a reservation (only if u want to) & have some fun with us....
The Myth and Reality Behind Sarah @ Serendipity

So it came to pass that a jolly, driven, crazy dreamer of a chef decided he needed more magic in his life. His life certainly had its share of thrilling food, great guests, a dedicated krewe, and the benefit of being located in New Orleans.  But old dreamers endure their fair share of heartbreak, and sometimes a prayer to a sweet goddess might be your best bet! 

Now there are many ways to access magic in New Orleans, from the prayers in our myriad churches, from our voudou traditions that permeate the very air of the city, from the raised graveyards to the living, sultry pace of the mighty Mississippi River nestling amidst curves and bends as it flows all of the American heartland in a sensual, upside-down twisting & turning, like reading the pages of the Fates, all the way down here to New Orleans along the river's way to the Gulf of Mexico.  The old pirate town always harbors secrets & stolen wishes, copious contraband, and delicacies of every stripe...if you only know how to ask...  The goddess, a sassy redhead who gives no quarter in her wanton ways, sidled up besides Chef one night, and said, "I heard you wanted to strike a deal?"

She's been around Nola a long time, and we keep swapping stories about this mysterious goddess who offers flashes of illumination; the bringer of bliss when u least expect it; the arranger of wrecks, collisions, and meant-to-be moments that never fade; the innocent instigator who weaves lives together;  yes indeed, all telltale signs point to that mischief making goddess known to those who don't really know her as "that's Miz Dippity to you, pal," but to her intuitive devotees who listen for her sweet whisper that "this is the right place, at the perfect moment!" they know this goddess Serendipity simply by her first name: Sarah, Sara, or Sere.... Chef has seen her in action for some time, and Sarah seems eternally amused by his pirate's swashbuckling life in this modern, digital world. 

Thus began the epic collaboration between the madman/chef/poet & the goddess Sarah to summon the spirits to build her namesake restaurant next to the old voodou stomping grounds alongside Bayou St. John, at 3700 Orleans Avenue, where resides Serendipity @American Can Co. The rest is history on the way, as all y'all in New Orleans & beyond are about to discover. 

Chef Chris DeBarr has assembled an amazing team to bring the goddess her due with a glamorous supper club, a fun neighborhood joint, a daring adventure for committed gastronauts, and a place where talented people meet to conspire, inspire, and breathe in the charms of "that old black magic" only found when Serendipity is on the scene.  As we say, Serendipity -- this'll be your New Orleans!

Soon, we will raise the curtain on this new adventure! Please stay tuned...
This entry is here to kickstart the final climb of the Mountain we shall all know henceforth as Serendipity, a supper club @ American Can nestled besides Bayou St. John on 3700 Orleans Ave. We often say that my new BIG restaurant is a temple to the goddess, Sarah or Sere, who is a sassy redheaded troublemaker who makes New Orleans her home. Sarah is always the source of songs from "That Ol' Black Magic" to Dr John's classic "must've been the right place, but it was the wrong, wrong, wrong time" which is what happens to ya when Sarah gets mad at ya!

Put a smile on that wanton hard-playing, typical lovely redhead who will just shrug her shoulders at the chaos that follows after her and laugh, "now how exactly is all this my fault?" and Sere will find a way to insinuate her charms upon your life with an insouciant flick of her wrist, the snap of her fingers sounding like a circus drum roll calling the believers to step right up for the show you've never seen before.

So I will pop up a series of news, menus, tales and maybe even some photos from the little cosmos we are creating at Serendipity, a supper club. Sometimes I also like to say that Sere is "a neighborhood joint" bcuz we totally love the Mid-City & Bayou St. John neighborhood. There's great green spaces & laconic Nola easygoing vibes that makes the living so much fun. I mean our restaurant shares this killer covered verandah with a branch of the Nola public library, which is so cool to this poet/chef.

We owe this impossible new reality of the house that Sarah built to our Divine Friends, who have stepped up time after time for this dream. Soon we will open the doors to celebrate the magic that we share here in New Orleans, cooking like there is no tomorrow!

This summer I owe my heart to so many of my divine friends, but in honor of my friends who have been howling at the moon with me, let me especially show my deep affection for Tracy. Mon Ami, I couldn't have done it without u! Tracy offers us today's Rumi quote:

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about."



I have decided that you shall have a Rumi quote everyday.
Look what you have started.

Fellow Ruminators Unite!!!!!"

Rumi, the divinely love-struck Sufi whirling dervish poet, has always been a huge part of my funky world, ever since I had the smiling fortune of Sarah's serendipity to study Rumi with Coleman Barks during my time in Athens, Ga. Coleman has become the principal free verse voice/translator for Rumi, and I marvel at the blessings that unfurl like a prayer rug from my original college daze when my poetic license was issued those 25+ years ago. Who knew it would prove to have been so useful and wondrously applied in my career as a chef to have a poetic license issued by Rumi. Thanks, Coleman! Thanks to this nudge of a Rumi Quote of the Day from Tracy, it is also the GEAUX TIME to ramp up news from my new dreamy place. Aite soulful poetry & a lil soul food on the way.

Stay tuned, my Divine Friends...

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