Inside New Orleans Museum of Art
#1 Collins Diboll Circle, City Park / New Orleans, LA 70124

Beauty and the Feast: Museum cooking demos pair art and food

Bruschetta gleans its name from the bread’s method of preparation (grilled over hot coals). Olives’ ripeness determines whether extra virgin olive oil has a dark gold or greenish cast. Chef Chris Montero ticked off food facts on a recent Friday night at the New Orleans Museum of Art as he topped bread with Creole tomato marmalade and duck confit.

“I’d serve this bruschetta with arugula or hydroponically grown watercress spritzed with Steen’s cane vinegar,” Montero told an audience of about 150 people. “That would balance the flavors of the sweet tomato marmalade and the salty, briny, herbaceous duck meat.”

Montero’s presentation was first in an eight-week series of free cooking demonstrations hosted by Café NOMA, 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle. Presented by Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group chefs, the “Artful Palate” cooking series takes place at 6:30 p.m. every Friday through Sept. 1.

For Montero, executive chef and general manager of Napoleon House and Café NOMA, the goal is twofold. He wants to teach cooking techniques while creating dishes that reflect NOMA's current exhibitions.

Montero selected the duck confit bruschetta because it tied into NOMA’s Bastille Day festivities.

“It’s Bastille Day, and a French baguette is as French as it gets,” he said. “And duck confit is such an old, classic French dish.”

Made of ingredients sourced from local vendors and farmers markets, the bruschetta also reflected that evening’s farm-to-table theme. Future installments of the series will feature culinary trends including clean eating, organic cooking and comfort food.

“It’s a bit of history, a bit of culture and a cooking lesson,” Montero said. “(Attendees) can always expect an informative session (including) both technique and several actual recipes made live in front of them.”

Samples are served after the 30-minute demos, which have attracted a loyal following since launching seven years ago. Seating is first-come, first-serve, and the series often draws a standing-room-only crowd. Some attendees arrive as much as an hour early to snag seats and take advantage of Café NOMA’s food and drink specials. These include a flatbread pizza and glass of wine for $10, or a bottle of wine for $15.

“My husband and I have been going to the Café NOMA Artful Palate cooking demonstrations since they began and absolutely love them,” said audience member Ann Marciante. “(Chefs) showcase their talents, give helpful cooking tips and (then) you actually get to taste the remarkable dishes they create right in front of you — truly the icing on the cake.”

Artful Palate takes place at 6:30 p.m. Fridays through Sept 1 at Café NOMA (504-482-1264). For a complete list of topics and chefs, visit cafenoma.com.

-Missy Wilkinson for The Advocate


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