Ruffino’s Sclafani, Rodrigue named Restaurateurs of Year _lowres

Photo provided by Muriel's Jackson Square -- The Burnt Sage Margarita cocktail at Muriel's Jackson Square in New Orleans features Herradura Blanco, muddled sage, Chivas Regal and house-made sour.

Peter Sclafani and Ruffin Rodrigue of Ruffino’s Restaurants in Baton Rouge and Lafayette have been named the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Restaurateurs of the Year.

The 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees are the Marino family, who have operated Gino’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge for almost 50 years. Mickey Freiberg, sales of manager of Capitol City Produce, is the 2014 Associate Member of the Year, the LRA announced Tuesday.

They, along with state Rep. Erich Ponti, the Advocate of the Year, will be recognized at the Five Star Futures Gala, on Aug. 2 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. The annual event benefits the LRA Education Foundation. The Five Star Futures Gala will also recognize 30 culinary and hospitality recipients who will be presented with $61,000 from the LRAEF Scholarship Fund.

Sponsorships and tickets for the Five Star Futures Gala are available at (click the Programs tab), or by calling Alice Glenn at (504) 454-2277.

Ruffino’s is a collaborative effort between Rodrigue, a former LSU lineman, and Sclafani, a New Orleans-native, third-generation chef. In 2013, they opened Ruffino’s on the River in Lafayette and, with an expanded focus on group and banquet business, recently opened Ruffino’s at De La Ronde Hall in downtown Baton Rouge. Sclafani serves on the LRAEF board, the LRA board of directors and is the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter president. He and Rodrigue also support numerous fundraising activities for civic and nonprofit endeavors.

Each year, the LRA recognizes a member “who has given faithful, dedicated and outstanding service to the association” by inducting him or her into the LRA Hall of Fame. This year, the honor goes to the Marino family.

Freiberg is a member of the LRA board and also serves on the LRA Baton Rouge Chapter Board of Directors.

Ambrosia honored

The Ambrosia Bakery of Baton Rouge is bragging about coming in at No. 22 in a list of the Top 50 Best Wedding Cake Bakeries in America.

The list was compiled by The Daily Meal. For a complete list, see

The bakery at 8546 Siegen Lane also has a photograph of one of its cakes in a French publishing company’s textbook, co-owner Felix Sherman Jr. said.

“Back in October of 2013, a publishing company in France ( contacted us about using our photo of The Ambrosia Bakery Traditional King Cake in a children’s English textbook, ‘New Enjoy 4e,’ they were publishing for the school,” he said. “The whole collection is also available in a digital version, protected by a password, for 5,000 subscribers. What an honor it is to be a representative of the Mardi Gras king cake internationally!”

Mansur joins WSC team

Baton Rouge restaurateur Tommy Mansur has joined the senior management team of privately held, Baton Rouge-based Wayne Stabiler Companies.

Mansur, a lifelong resident of the Capital City, brings more than 35 years of experience in the fine-dining sector of the Baton Rouge restaurant industry.

He joins Kevin Kimball on the WSC senior management team, which is responsible for overseeing the WSC restaurants, including Le Creole, Little Village Airline, Little Village Downtown and Stab’s Steak & Seafood.

Most recently, WSC announced it closed on the purchase of a Jefferson Highway location across from Bocage Village. Mansur joins the team as concepts for that location are being solidified.

Muriel’s cocktail menu

Mary Hulse, Muriel’s Jackson Square bartender in New Orleans, recently became a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, a leading international organization of professionals dedicated specifically to wine and spirits education.

Now, inspired by the bounty of locally grown fresh produce and herbs, Hulse has crafted a new summer cocktail menu for the restaurant. Her menu includes several choices for the vodka lover, plus twists on the classic margarita.

Her Summer Thyme Blues blends Benchmark bourbon, crème yvette, lemon juice and house-made blueberry-thyme syrup.

Muriel’s Jackson Square is open for dinner Monday through Friday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Lunch is served Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and Sunday brunch featuring Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call (504) 568-1885.