Through most of its long history, Tujague’s did not have a chef. But for a special dinner coming up next week it will have three, while for another in next month Tujague’s will welcome one of the city’s best-known chefs into its kitchen.
The kitchen at the venerable French Quarter restaurant was for generations run by a succession of cooks who produced its roster old Creole warhorses. One of the changes to come with the historic restaurant’s turnover in 2013, however, was the addition of an executive chef. Now Marcus Woodham, previously of Tivoli & Lee, guides the menu and leads the kitchen.
On July 14, he’ll have some company as Tujague’s hosts a special bourbon dinner in conjunction with Isaac Toups, of Toups’ Meatery across town in Mid-City, and Alex Harrell, of Angeline, just around the corner in the Quarter.
The three chefs will cook together and each will prepare their own dishes for the five-course dinner. Each course is paired with cocktails made with a small batch bourbon bottled in honor of the restaurant’s 160th anniversary (see menu below).
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The dinner itself is part of a guest chef series launched this spring in conjunction with that anniversary. The series continues on August 25, when John Besh will take a break from running his own growing restaurant empire to serve as guest chef here for the night.
The series is part of the restaurant’s ongoing campaign to reintroduce itself to next-generation diners. Dating back to 1856, Tujague’s ranks at the city’s second oldest restaurant. Though its future was in jeopardy following the death of proprietor Steven Latter in 2013, his son Mark Latter took over the business and began a number of changes to its menu and operations aimed at reorienting the restaurant for the modern dining scene.
“We’re a historic restaurant, but there’s a lot that’s new here,” said Mark Latter.
Toups opened his Toups’ Meatery in 2012 as a Cajun restaurant blending flavors of his upbringing in Acadiana with his fine-dining experience. He was a finalist for this year’s James Beard Awards for best chef in the South (won by Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery), and he was a contestant on the last season of Bravo’s series Top Chef.
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Harrell is an Alabama native who first came to attention in New Orleans as chef at Sylvain, the French Quarter gastropub. Last year he opened his own, more ambitious modern Southern restaurant, Angeline, which brings an original perspective to Southern flavors and an artful hand to its plates.
The bourbon for the dinner pairings was prepared in a small batch by Jefferson’s Bourbon. Diners get a commemorative old fashioned glass to take home.
The July 14 bourbon dinner begins at 7 p.m. and costs $110, with tax and tip included. A portion of proceeds benefits the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.
Details of the Aug. 25 dinner with John Besh are still be finalized.
July 14 bourbon dinner menu, with Alex Harrell, Isaac Toups and Marcus Woodham
Scallop ceviche with grilled peach broth, granola, basil and bitter greens
Buttermilk hot fried chicken livers with whipped gorgonzola, sweet pickles and crostini
Swedish sweet tea with bourbon
Salad of Louisiana heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers with fermented corn, crispy chicken skins, torn herbs and green goddess
Blonde Manhattan with Cocchi Americano and yellow Chartreuse
Orange glazed pork ribs with mint coleslaw
Beer ‘n’ shot shandy
Apple cobbler with salted cane syrup and bourbon cream
Bourbon-amaro mind eraser
823 Decatur St., 504-525-8676