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Ralph Brennan


A third-generation scion of the family whose name is synonymous with New Orleans restaurants, Ralph Brennan got his start at age 14 as a dishwasher, working his way up in the iconic French Quarter establishment that bears his name, Brennan’s. As the president of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, which includes five classic, award-winning restaurants in New Orleans and a New Orleans-inspired restaurant in California, he has been the steward of two of the oldest, historic buildings in the Crescent City - Napoleon House and Brennan’s, keeping both family-owned. Brennan’s has been a five-time James Beard Award Finalist for “Best Chef: South,” and has been a finalist and semi-finalist for “Outstanding Restaurant”.

Following in the footsteps of his father, aunts, and uncles as restaurateurs, Ralph continues to be heavily involved at every level, even after 50 years - from expediting orders to busing tables. He tirelessly advocates for the industry, currently in his final year as the 21st Chairman of the Board of The Culinary Institute of America - Ralph was the first New Orleans citizen both to serve on its governing board and to act as chairman. He was the past president and chairman of the National Restaurant Association; and has presided over the Louisiana Restaurant Association and New Orleans Restaurant Association. He has also chaired the board of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention Center and was a director of the U.S. Travel Association.

Ralph’s primary quest is elevating educational opportunities in his community, the hospitality industry, and creating sustainable solutions through programs that protect the environment. Sitting on boards of Louisiana Children's Medical Center, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Louisiana Museum, and the Foundation Miller McCoy Charter School, allows Ralph to champion progress. His role on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation has been instrumental in preservation of Louisiana’s wetlands and natural habits.

Ralph is battle tested for economic and cultural shock having led the company through turbulent times. Ralph continued to keep employees on the payroll, honoring his commitment to his team, during 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 recession, and provided expert testimony before Congress in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill that threatened the Gulf seafood industry.