Can you say right place, right time? That’s pretty much what happened to me recently when I was invited to personally dine with some of the city’s top chefs.
It was 10:40 p.m. on a Friday night when I was leaving an event at Generations Hall in the Warehouse District. That’s when my friend Bishop, from “The Ladies Who Podcast,” ran into her friend, Amy, owner of Cajun Caviar, who is married to Chef Chris Wilson, culinary director at Emeril’s Homebase. Still with me? Amy said she was headed to Meril – Emeril Lagasse’s newest restaurant on my bucket list — to meet her husband and Emeril. She asked if we wanted to come along. Now, I consider myself a bit of a foodie, and I would never turn down an invite to meet chefs, especially ones of this caliber. Internally I screamed “YES,” but casually said “sure.”
As we approached Meril, Emeril and Chris were walking in the back door. I was introduced to both. My first impression was that they were both very cordial and friendly. They escorted us around the back of the restaurant, through the kitchen and out to the dining room. They told us to grab a table and that they would join us in a minute.
WHAT? Am I really about to have dinner and drinks with Emeril and Chris?!?! We sat down, then came Emeril. He asked what we liked on the menu and began ordering several different dishes.
Now, I was already stuffed from the event I just left but who cares, I’m about to eat with the owner of the restaurant. He highly recommended the rock shrimp tacos, which, being a taco fanatic, I was more than happy to oblige. As you can imagine, the wait staff took care of our every need. They provided food, drinks and whatever else we wanted. Chris soon joined us, followed by David Slater, chef de cuisine at Emeril’s, followed by Will Avelar, chef de cuisine at Meril.
So, here I am having an amazing dinner with four of the city’s best chefs. I kept having to check myself. Is this really happening?
Listening to these culinary geniuses talk shop was quite interesting. They had several large events they participated in that night and the way they manage it all, while delivering an exceptional product, is beyond me. I desperately wanted to take some selfies with these guys. However, I felt I would come across as a total fan and not like I belonged at that table, so I restrained myself. I did snap some pictures of the food which I typically do at any restaurant.
Now, let’s talk about the food. Everything was delicious. The rock shrimp tacos – YUM! The yellowfin tuna wraps with tuna so red and fresh it tasted like it just came off a fishing boat in Venice, La. We also had the Boudin tamales, crawfish flatbread, fall off the bone candied pork ribs, Korean short ribs and linguine with clams.
For nearly two hours, I ate, drank and listened to stories. Not only was the food some of the best I’ve ever had, but the hospitality these amazing chefs showed a total stranger was unmatched. What you see is what you get with these guys, and that impressed me the most.
I would HIGHLY recommend going to Meril. You might not get the exact same dining experience as I did, but the staff will treat you right and the food will not disappoint.
Rachel Sigur is Director of Production at Fox 8 WVUE and a frequent traveler. She also now highly recommends dining at Meril.