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Kish: Two Nights + One Cause = Millions Raised For Culinary Arts Education

Brian Kish, Emeril Lagasse Foundation President

         This weekend, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation celebrates two nights for one cause – Boudin, Bourbon & Beer on Friday, Nov. 4, at Champions Square, from 6:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., and Carnival du Vin, on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, from 5:30 p.m. – after midnight.

         Both events are the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s signature annual fundraisers to further its mission to create opportunities to inspire, mentor and enable youth to reach their full potential through culinary, nutrition and arts education.

         “As a public charity, these two events are our primary ways to raise funds,” said Brian Kish, the president of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. “Through the generosity of so many people, we were able to raise over $3 million dollars in two days in 2015 and are looking forward to raising even more this year.”

         Kish said the oenophile-centric black tie gala and top ranked charity wine auction Carnivale du Vin has attracted world class chefs since 2005 who have prepared memorable meals, paired with some of the highest rated wines being grown in the U.S., for thousands of guests. The event’s nationally recognized charity wine auction has raised $20 million in over 10 years.

         Boudin, Bourbon & Beer first started as a small gathering for guest chefs, visiting winemakers and long-time donors to the Foundation as a way to honor them the night before Carnivale du Vin, Kish said. Six years later Boudin, Bourbon & Beer has evolved into a public outdoor food and musical festival and Louisiana-inspired culinary celebration that hosts a crowd 5,000 strong in Champions Square and features more than 60 local and national chefs who prepare their own creative ways to serve boudin sausage.

         “The food, beverages and prominent chefs take center stage,” Kish said. “From unique beers by Abita, to top-notch bourbon cocktails from Buffalo Trace to all of the incredible wines from California. And, this year we are proud that G.H. Mumm has stepped forward to be our champagne sponsor at our Carnivale du Vin reception.

         “And I don’t even know where to begin when talking about all of the incredible culinary talent,” he said. “However, how can you top Emeril? Few people have shaped the way we look at food in this country quite like Emeril has.”

         Kish said in 2015, 1,400 out-of-state guests who travelled from 43 states and four Canadian provinces joined thousands of locals to attend Boudin, Bourbon & Beer. Almost half the guests at Carnivale du Vin are from out-of-state too, Kish said. “All of these guests come into our city and stay for several days; not only attending our events, but also spending money at local restaurants, shops, hotels, etc.,” he said.

         “As you can imagine, it is quite an endeavor to host two world-class events so there are indeed expenses,” Kish said. “But, believe it or not, almost all of the food and beverages are donated. This truly helps us keep the costs down so that we can support more children. Each year we award grants to charities and organizations that inspire, mentor and enable youth to reach their fullest potential. We really focus on those organizations that accomplish this through food, art and life skills development. To date, we have given over $7 million right here in New Orleans, not to mention some of our other gifts to organizations throughout the Gulf region and where Emeril has restaurants.”

         The Emeril Lagasse Foundation, a New Orleans-based 501c(3) public charity that provides financial support to non-profit organizations providing youth education in New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and nationwide, recently received the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations’ 2016 Force for Good Award for Nonprofit of the Year. With the support of a full-time staff and a national board, the Foundation has successfully funded seven teaching kitchens and five culinary gardens.

         The Emeril Lagasse Foundation supports and awards grants to non-profit organizations in the following areas:


NUTRITION & CULINARY EDUCATION – Connecting food to healthy living and exploring the cultural lessons surrounding its preparation.

• Edible Education Experience at Orlando Junior Academy

• Edible Schoolyard NOLA

• New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA)

• St. Michael Special School

• Bayou District Foundation


LIFE SKILLS DEVELOPMENT – Providing mentorship and tools to obtain and sustain employment for underserved, undereducated and at-risk youth.

• Café Hope

• Café Reconcile

• Liberty's Kitchen

• Youth Empowerment Project

• Covenant House


CHILDHOOD HUNGER – Giving access to food and the benefits that come from being well-nourished and ready to learn.

• Second Harvest Food Bank


ARTS EDUCATION – Incorporating creativity when teaching lessons both in and out of school.

• Lynn Meadows Discovery Center

• Contemporary Arts Center Summer Camp


         The Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s successes include:

• More than 1,500 students have empowered their own futures since Café Reconcile opened its door fifteen years ago

• More than 250 students have graduated from Café Hope since opening in 2010

• 33,566 suppers provided by Liberty's Kitchen to low-income school children last year, providing an additional meal that allows them to participate in enrichment activities

• 204 High School culinary students have taken classes at NOCCA since 2007

• More than 895,000 Second Harvest meals served to hungry kids in the summertime since 2010

• 94 percent of graduating children met or exceeded kindergarten readiness standards after graduating from Bayou District’s Educare program

• ESYNOLA provides more than 4,000 innovative, hands-on classes each year in non-traditional educational spaces: schoolyard gardens and teaching kitchens

• 87 percent of YEP program participants indicated they felt the program helped them to avoid dangerous situations and/ or violence

• St. Michael students learn how to plant, nurture and harvest herbs and vegetables to use in the teaching kitchen

• 50,000 students reached by WINGS performance and workshops

• 285 students attended CAC Summer Arts Camp in 2015

• Covenant House provided food, clothing, shelter and comprehensive services to 719 youths last year


         “Rarely does a chef say no to us when we ask them to participate,” Kish said about the Foundation’s annual fundraising weekend. “First, they respect Emeril so much and truly appreciate what he is doing through his Foundation. Second, we ensure they have a great time as well. For Boudin, Bourbon & Beer we have over 60 chefs from some of the best restaurants here in New Orleans and throughout the South. A large majority of them are James Beard nominated chefs, have been on Top Chef, or featured in national culinary magazines. This is the best of the best. As for Carnivale, we are honored that Sarah Gruenenberg from Chicago, Danny Bowein from San Francisco/ NYC, and Frank Stitt from Birmingham will be participating in this year’s Bacchus Reception. All three of these renowned chefs have been recognized nationally, numerous times for their culinary talents.”

         Even though Boudin, Bourbon & Beer and Carnivale du Vin take place for two days, Kish encourages those interested in youth education and enrichment opportunities in the areas of nutrition and culinary education, life skills development, childhood hunger and arts education to donate to the Emeril Lagasse Foundation all year long.

         “First, please come to our events,” Kish said. “Second, keep us in your philanthropic plans. We are always overjoyed to see folks make donations online or send in checks. Please know, that all gifts are valued and will be utilized to better the lives of the youth that we serve.”



         For more about Carnival du Vin

         For more about Boudin, Bourbon & Beer

         View the list of Boudin, Bourbon & Beer chefs and menu selections here.

         For more about the Emeril Lagasse Foundation 




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Big Easy Biz by Leslie T. Snadowsky


Leslie T. Snadowsky contributes to Biz New Orleans as a video blogcaster and Biz liaison for WWL/WUPL-TV. She’s contributed to Bloomberg NewsReutersThe Times-PicayuneThe New York Post and The Dallas Morning News, and appeared on CNN’s “Nancy Grace,” and “Jane Velez Mitchell,” and Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” She earned her BA from Newcomb College at Tulane University and her MS in Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. As an exhibited and published rock photographer, Leslie enjoys live music and the eclectic culture of New Orleans. 

You can reach Leslie T. Snadowsky directly at Leslie@BizNewOrleans.com.




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