The Chef John Folse Institute at Nicholls State University honored Baton Rouge restaurateur Thomas J. “TJ” Moran on Sunday night at its annual “Dinner of the Century” at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans.
Moran was inducted into the Lafcadio Hearn Hall of Honor, which recognizes those “who have had a lasting influence on the cuisine and culture of their state or nation.”
The award was presented during “A Farewell to Jackson” dinner reminiscent of that given in Gen. Andrew Jackson’s honor after he defeated the British in the Jan. 8, 1815, Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812.
Folse told attendees that Moran, who opened the first Ruth’s Chris Steak House franchise in 1976 in Baton Rouge and went on to become the largest Ruth’s Chris franchisee, is “committed to volunteerism” and is a founding director of the Dale Brown Foundation, a charter member of the philanthropic Karnival Krewe de Louisiane and a longtime supporter of the nonprofit Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.
“He has had an humanitarian impact on the community, often behind the scene,” Folse said.
Among those speaking at the event were Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, state Sen. Norby Charbert, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Nicholls State University President Bruce T. Murphy and Sister Carolyn M. Brockland, of the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans.
Past Lafcadio Hearn award recipients include Warren LeRuth, of LeRuth’s in Gretna; Ruth Fertel, of Ruth’s Chris Steak House; Leah Chase, Dooky Chase in New Orleans; Si Brown, Bruce Foods Corp.; Charles Brandt, Brandt’s in Baton Rouge; Ella Brennan, Commander’s Palace, New Orleans; and Gunter Preuss, Broussard’s, New Orleans.
Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute Building Fund.
Five Louisiana Culinary Institute students — Garrett Couvillon, Nicholas Glenn, Mica Salter, Dustin Wesley and Justin Lambert — are the recipients of Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation Scholarships awarded by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, with the support of the American Academy of Chefs.
They make up half of the 10 recipients of the $2,500 educational scholarship award, which goes to students seeking culinary-related careers, according to a news release.
Trotter established his foundation in 1999 with the goal to educate and expose young people to the culinary arts.
LCI is located at 10550 Airline Highway in Baton Rouge.