The late artist George Rodrigue always will be remembered for the “Blue Dog.” But earlier in his career, Rodrigue made his name with different depictions of Cajun culture, and his 1971 painting “Aioli Dinner” is the epitome of that style.
Now, that painting is the inspiration for a series of special dinners convened around Louisiana in honor of Rodrigue’s legacy and to support the nonprofit that carries on his philanthropic work.
The Aioli Dinner Supper Club is a project from the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts. It is a series of benefit dinners modeled after the theme and style of the “Aioli Dinner” painting, with renditions in Baton Rouge on Wednesday, in Shreveport on Saturday and in New Orleans on May 14.
Proceeds support Louisiana A+ Schools, an arts-based teaching program created by the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and in place at 16 schools around Louisiana.
The New Orleans dinner will be held at the private Uptown home of hosts Lori and Bobby Savoie, and tickets are $250 per person.
Peter Sclafani, chef of Ruffino’s in Baton Rouge, will prepare the five-course dinner, which includes wine pairings. The dinner will be served at long communal tables in a style drawn from Rodrigue’s famous painting.
Jacques Rodrigue, the artist’s son and executive director of the foundation, explained that the painting was based on clubs known as Creole gourmet societies, which met on the grounds of plantation homes around the New Iberia area from the 1890s through the 1920s.
“My family is excited to use this piece of our Cajun heritage as a vehicle to keep the arts relevant and accessible to students across Louisiana,” Jacques Rodrigue said in a statement.
For tickets and event details, see aiolidinner.com.
Blue Oak flips Fellini’s
Blue Oak BBQ opened in late April as the newest addition to the burgeoning Mid-City restaurant scene, but many of the first people through the doors here were already very familiar with its food.
For the last three years, pitmasters Ronnie Evans and Philip Moseley maintained a sort of pop-up-as-permanent residency at Chickie Wah Wah, the Canal Street music club. They earned a loyal following on the strength of their full-tilt, slow-and-low barbecue. When the longtime home of Fellini’s Café hit the market in March, the Blue Oak boys were quick to snap it up. Given the short turnaround, the change at the old Fellini’s is remarkable.
The new Blue Oak BBQ uses a counter service format. From the line, you look into an open kitchen where cooks slice ribs and brisket, pile chopped beef into Texas toast sandwiches, add panko crumbs to the roasted garlic mac and cheese and tend a smoker built into the tiled walls.
The dining room is a progression of booths, tables and long, high benches done in weathered wood, and there’s a patio up front screened by hedges and strung with lights. The full bar has a good selection of drafts (including one from Mid-City’s own Second Line Brewing).
As before, Blue Oak’s approach at the smoker starts with a blend of pecan and oak, and its menu represents a mix of regional styles. The smoked chicken wings and house-made sauces have become calling cards. Blue Oak BBQ serves lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.