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Celebrating 50 Years Of Jazz Fest And Louisiana Food Heritage

Orlando Vega At Congreso Cubano booth w/ yucca fries & chimichurri.
Poppy Tooker
Louisiana Eats

2019 marks a huge milestone for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival… 50 years! Yet, there is another benchmark being met this year. The Food Heritage Stage, which was conceived 20 years after the first Jazzfest, is turning 30. This week on Louisiana Eats, we’ll explore the Food Heritage Stage through the lens of chefs that have presented over the years, along with the people that helped pull it all together.

We begin with Michelle Nugent, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival’s food director. She’ll explain what it takes to manage the Food Heritage Stage, along with all of the food vendors located around the festival.

Next, we’ll hear archival footage featuring some of our favorite chefs. First, Frank Brigtsen cooks up some catfish while explaining to the crowd why the festival is near and dear to him. After, Susan Spicer takes the stage and makes a mango chutney. Then, we hear a bit from Ms. Lucy Mike, a 79-year-old strawberry farmer from Hammond who was still doing it all on her own. We’ll also get a snippet from Chef Jamie Shannon of Commander’s Palace and Austin Leslie of Chez Helene, both basking in the glory of sharing their craft with the Food Heritage Stage audience.

Later, Steve Armbruster joins us in the studio to tell the tale of how the first stage came to be and how the backseat of his Volkswagen played an important role in those early years.

Finally, we check back in with Orlando Vega of Congreso Cubano. He shares with us the good fortune of having Michelle Nugent secretly sample his food at Barrel Proof, which got him to the fairgrounds not only as a food vendor, but also as a performer with his band, Kumasi, self-described as an Afro-Beat Orchestra.

For more of all things Louisiana Eats, be sure to visit us at PoppyTooker.com.

Poppy is the host and executive producer of the weekly show, Louisiana Eats! Food personality, culinary teacher and author, Poppy Tooker is passionate about food and the people who bring it to the table.