Cory Bahr (www.chefcorybahr.com) is the chef/owner of Parish Restaurant & Bar and Heritage Catering in Monroe, Louisiana. He is interested in cuisine from the Mississippi Delta and is an advocate for sustainable Louisiana seafood. Bahr is the only chef based outside New Orleans to serve on the Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries Chef Council. Bahr will participate in the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Boudin, Bourbon & Beer (www.boudinbourbonandbeer.com) fundraiser Nov. 8 in Champions Square.
G: What will you be cooking at Boudin, Bourbon & Beer?
Bahr: A whole hog boudin, kind of a truck-stop spread. We take locally raised pigs, brine them, smoke them, pull them and make boudin with local rice. We’ll have a spread of homemade crackers, hot sauce, pickles … the kinds of things you’d find in a south Louisiana truck stop but more our style. We’ll be pickling squash and okra and all these cool things we can find here. We’ll use fermented hot sauce we make, things that are just a little different and speak to where we’re from — more than south Louisiana.
In years past we’ve done these very composed, pretty dishes. But this is boudin, something that satisfies your craving for a smoky, rich dish. That’s what we really wanted to put in front of people. In the South, some of our favorite ways to eat are picking and choosing, having little bites and snacks. We want people to have a good time with it.
G: What makes a north Louisiana chef get involved in the cause of sustainable seafood?
B: One of the major things you have to fight in Louisiana is having New Orleans be part of your state. There’s good food all over Louisiana. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a strong voice to bring that to the forefront.
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As far as being a fisherman, that’s my major passion: being out on the water and bringing that to customers. It’s highly important, especially outside New Orleans, because I don’t think people get enough credit for working their asses off to do that.
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A lot of times there is opportunity for chefs not to serve something that’s sustainable or regional in order to make a quick buck, but that harms our restaurants or the perception of quality in our restaurants across the state. If you come to Louisiana, you should be able to rest assured that (seafood you are served) came from our waters or the Gulf of Mexico itself. I just don’t think that’s done enough in our state or across the South. It supports your local and state economy and provides jobs and job security for generations down the road. It’s not only sustainable from an environmental stance but from an economic stance as well.
G: What brings you back to this event?
B: It raises a lot of money and awareness for things we care about: education and feeding young people. We spend a lot of time as chefs giving away our time, energy and food to things that line other people’s pocketbooks. This is an opportunity to make an impact with youth, to inspire the next generation of people to eat great food and be healthy and more conscientious about how they treat themselves. Plus it’s a great time to see people you haven’t seen in a year.