Just in time for its 35th anniversary, the New Orleans School of Cooking is getting a $150,000 grant after it won a national competition for small businesses.
The school, located in the heart of the French Quarter, is one of 20 winners of Mission Main Street Grants from Chase bank. More than 25,000 small businesses from across the U.S. applied for the grants.
“This couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Greg Leighton, CEO of the cooking school. “This is a gift that will be appreciated and put to good use.”
The school, at 524 St. Louis St., teaches visitors the basics of cooking Louisiana dishes, such as gumbo, jambalaya and pralines. The school also operates a general store that sells specialty food items, seasonings, cookbooks and kitchen tools.
Leighton said the grant will be used in two ways.
The first is to further develop a line of New Orleans School of Cooking branded items and to expand the base of the business beyond the tourist market.
The school developed Joe’s Stuff, an all-purpose seasoning blend, and sells it online. “Joe’s Stuff will lead the way, but we also have a dozen or so other items that their first exposure to the retail market was through the New Orleans School of Cooking,” Leighton said.
Some of those other items include Cajun Power Garlic Sauce, Nuccio’s olive oils and http://www.mcpickles.com/">Michael’s Pickles. Versions of those items, sold under the cooking school’s label, could be developed.
The other way the grant will be spent is to launch New Orleans School of Cooking Foundation, which will expand the donations to local nonprofit organizations.
Leighton said the school has always donated cooking classes and volunteers to organizations such as Covenant House, Cafe Reconcile and local festivals. The foundation will be a central clearinghouse to allow the donations to be better targeted. “We’ll be dedicating specific funds to make a difference with select organizations,” he said.
Jackelyn Gallo, area manager for Chase Business Banking in New Orleans, said this is the second year in a row a local business has been awarded a Mission Main Street Grant. In 2014, Chemo Beanies, which makes fashionable head covers for women battling cancer, earned an award.
“Just like food is at the center of our life and culture in New Orleans, small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy,” Gallo said.
The grant winners were chosen for their superiority in demonstrating a solid business plan, feasible growth plan, overall passion for their business, the potential to make a positive impact within their local community and their likelihood to succeed with a two-year time frame.
Bill Lewis Outdoors, an Alexandria company that makes fishing lures, also was awarded a Mission Main Street Grant.
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