For the past decade, Galatoire’s Bistro has been bringing its signature New Orleans style to the Baton Rouge market.
After closing shortly in summer 2011, the restaurant reopened at 3535 Perkins Road near the Garden District in 2013. At its new location, Galatoire’s Bistro has thrived in large part thanks to its consistency and fabulous food from Chef Kelley McCann.
This month, the restaurant will start a new guest chef dinner series. In this week’s One-on-One, I spoke with Galatoire’s Bistro’s new general manager Jason Gilfour about his career and staying alive in the Capital City market.
When did you arrive in Baton Rouge?
It was roughly about six months ago. I was intending to move up to the Baton Rouge market. I looked at all the establishments. I was more familiar with some than others.
Where had you been working?
I was working for Motivated Seafood, a seafood manufacturing facility down in Houma. I relocated there after Hurricane Katrina. I had been in New Orleans for 12 years before Katrina. I was fortunate that I had a home to go to.
The first time we met, you had mentioned you had humble beginnings in the food industry. Tell me about that.
Yeah, I started working for a mom and pop restaurant in Thibodeaux — the Shore Line Restaurant, a seafood restaurant. It was semi-fine dining. I was there at a young age. I was fortunate to have the position. The guy paid me cash until I was old enough to get a paycheck. That’s 30 years ago. I’m 42 now. I worked my way through school and college in the restaurant industry and worked my way into a management position. I’ve been in the food industry from one angle or another ever since.
So you missed the restaurant atmosphere?
Yeah, you could say that. I missed the pace of it. The industry has grown by leaps and bounds. The wonderful thing is that the restaurant industry is a community. We know one another, but at the end of the day, we’re competing. It’s about outperforming each other day-to-day. It was an easy transition.
What has been your goal as general manager of Galatoire’s Bistro?
Really, I’ve been allying myself with [owner] Melvin [Rodrigue] and the Galatoire’s concept, the direction they’re going in. It felt like a good fit for me from the start. It’s really about the staff, too. I’m looking to facilitate the talents and skills of the people who are already in place. They’ve been teaching me about the history and culture of the restaurant along the way. The focus is consistent quality. That can be a challenge day in, day out. It’s about keeping a mindset and awareness, the attention to detail, so there is consistent quality.
Being in the city for 10 years, what does that mean for the restaurant?
We feel that milestone. We want to be engaged in the community here. We see social groups and outings and those working with a charity to help produce funds for some cause or another. We want to be engaged in those things. Our longevity has opened us up to lots of folks that approach us on a regular basis.