Ai LIVE: NOLA Restaurant Owner Discusses Family’s Rich Culinary History
The Brennan family has made a mark on the New Orleans’ restaurant scene for over 70 years. Their restaurants—Tableau, Acorn, Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, Place Café, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, and the newest addition called Commissary Market + Eatery—tempt tastebuds and attract diners from across the globe.
In this edition of AiLive, host E. Vincent Martinez talks with Dickie Brennan, restaurant owner and Managing Partner of Dickie Brennan & Co., about his family’s rich history in culinary arts—and the new spin that they’re putting on dining in the recently-opened Commissary Market + Eatery.
Martinez points out that the Brennan family restaurants have a “consistently delicious feed” on Instagram—a compliment that Brennan says showcases culinary artistry. “Chefs are artists and you do eat with your eyes. Presentation has become more and more critical.”
He adds that the evolution of food is a team effort, a lesson quickly learned when he was pulled into another meeting while prepping a menu with his sous chefs. When he returned, the sous chefs had put together their own exciting spin on the original concept. Today, Brennan continues that whole team approach and even includes line chefs to get their input.
With the backdrop of New Orleans—and its proximity to the Gulf’s fresh fish—it’s easy to see where Brennan finds culinary inspiration. He mentions that his restaurants are looking to “go back and recapture the depth of cooking that we thought was lacking.” This includes making stock from scratch instead of relying upon pre-made base. He looks at a classic dish and thinks, “how can I evolve it, but take it to the next level?”
Martinez and Brennan also talk about Commissary Market + Eatery, the family’s newest addition. The venture is a retail market within a commissary where people can watch chefs cooking meals from scratch. Much of the food is then packed up in large containers and sent out to the company’s restaurants, but some is packaged for people to purchase and take home. Brennan says that this fulfills many people’s wish to eat at home—but gives them the option to bring restaurant-quality food into their home.
Brennan mentions the challenges of running a restaurant during the pandemic. He also provides advice to budding chefs—encouraging students to stop by their local restaurants and talk to people working in the kitchen. He adds that it’s important to know that potentially moving up in the industry takes time, hard work, and education. Brennan’s top tip is to find a good mentor. “Someone that can help you to stay on course, challenge, and push you.”
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