Taste memories tend to be long-lived in New Orleans, so some locals may still recall dinners at G&E Courtyard Grill on Decatur Street.
With a menu of Tuscan flavors and a deep French Quarter courtyard equipped with a rotisserie, it was one of the city’s hottest restaurants in the 1990s, and it was where chef Michael Uddo made his name.
Now, Uddo is overseeing a different sort of menu as the new chef for Cafe B, Ralph Brennan’s upscale-casual Creole restaurant in Old Metairie.
The veteran local chef took over the position long held by Chris Montero, whom Brennan named as chef and manager for the Napoleon House after he bought the French Quarter landmark this spring.
“I’m excited to be back at a restaurant like this,” Uddo said. “This is a guest-driven restaurant, not a chef-driven restaurant, so you really have to listen to what your guests are telling you and what they like.”
The New Orleans native got his start in local restaurants in the 1980s. He and his brother Mark ran G&E Courtyard Grill from 1990 to 1999, operating at the Decatur Street address now occupied by the bar and restaurant Cane & Table.
In 2009, Uddo opened another restaurant, Mike’s American Grill in Metairie. Later, he was chef at White Oak Plantation, John Folse’s events facility in Baton Rouge, and most recently, he led a catering division for Tulane University. Last fall, he was running the kitchen for the swanky Glazer Family Club at Tulane’s new Yulman Stadium, among other duties.
At Cafe B, he has joined a restaurant already well ensconced in its neighborhood, with a clientele composed largely of locals and a seafood-centric menu of updated Creole flavors, plus a few Italian dishes brought over from Bacco, one of Brennan’s previous restaurants.
While he doesn’t plan any sweeping changes, Uddo said he’s looking forward to designing dishes for Cafe B’s “crab fete,” an annual summer menu special that works crab into various courses. It will begin June 29.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.