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Bernard Carmouche

Naturally New Orleans

Chef Bernard Carmouche takes his 20 years in the Kitchen with Emeril and brings it to Café NOMA

Born and raised in the vibrant city of New Orleans, Bernard Carmouche developed a deep love affair with the rich culinary traditions that define his hometown. For him, the roots of the city begin on the plate, and the dish you create defines your character. "If your character is lively, you're cooking with spice," he says. "If you're an easy-going person, then I bet you're making something with a hollandaise or velouté soup!" Carmouche has become the newest member of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group team as the Chef de Cuisine of Café NOMA, surrounded by some of the oldest oak trees in City Park, putting his lifetime of skills and love for the city's cuisine on a plate.

Carmouche's culinary journey began at the tender age of 17 when he took a job as a dishwasher at the renowned Commander's Palace during his school years. His eagerness to learn the ins and outs of the kitchen soon led him to work in the pantry department, where his natural talent and acute palate for sauces quickly elevated him to the role of sous chef and saucier at Palace Cafe.

It was at this point that Carmouche's career took a pivotal turn when the legendary Emeril Lagasse recognized his exceptional skills and took him under his wing. For the next two decades, Carmouche worked closely with Lagasse, traveling alongside him, and serving as an assistant culinary director. Lagasse proved to be a loyal mentor, investing in Carmouche's growth by sending him to Nice, France, for a three-month apprenticeship with the renowned Chef Roger Verge, one of the most gifted chefs in the world and a mentor to many culinary greats. During his time with Lagasse, Carmouche also forged a respected friendship with Chef Charlie Trotter, working hand in hand with both culinary icons at numerous events across the country.

After those cherished years of mentorship and experience, Carmouche felt the call to strike out on his own, as most chefs eventually do. In 2018, he opened a New Orleans-style restaurant called Two Chefs in Orlando, Florida, and also consulted on the side. However, when the pandemic hit and tourism to the Sunshine State dwindled, family obligations took priority, and Carmouche returned home to New Orleans to ensure his daughters could continue their education.

In his eyes, there is no better restaurant family in New Orleans, if not the country, than the Brennan family, with the patriarch Ralph Brennan epitomizing the true character of a classic restaurateur. If Carmouche were to pick a dish that describes "Mr. Ralph," it would be a Gumbo. "It starts with a roux, which takes a lot of time and dedication to get just right, and that's what it was for him growing up in this family with his mentors and Aunts, Ella and Adelaide," Carmouche explains. "Then it's a mix of what's real New Orleans, from the seafood to the sausage. I wouldn't put a lot of spice, but more of a mix of bay leaf, salt, garlic, and pepper that makes it well-balanced - that makes it quintessentially New Orleans, just like Ralph Brennan.”

With his deep roots in the city's culinary traditions and a wealth of experience under the guidance of some of the world's most renowned chefs, Bernard Carmouche now embarks on his next significant venture – Cafe NOMA, showcasing his testament to the romantic love affair he has with the city that shaped his culinary soul.