Boudin, Bourbon and Beer Draws Tourists and Revelers to Champions Square
Something we do particularly well in New Orleans is party with a purpose. Our festivals draw visitors from across the country to join us in celebrating our culture and raising money for worthy charitable projects. One example of such is happening this weekend, Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Boudin, Bourbon and Beer, on Nov. 8.
In its fifteenth year, Boudin, Bourbon and Beer has become a signature fall festival drawing 5,000 guests in 2017 and over 4,000 guests in 2018. Event organizers recognize the appeal of New Orleans and Cajun food culture to tourists. They created partnerships with American Airlines to encourage airline ticket purchases and organized a room block at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel for overnight stays.
Even a main page of the Boudin, Bourbon and Beer website is dedicated to travelers. Called “Visit NOLA,” the page provides suggestions for tourists of things to do beyond the main event. It includes the aforementioned air transportation and hotel accommodations from their partnerships, as well as highlights local businesses. For dining, two culinary training programs the foundation supports are listed, Liberty’s Kitchen and Café Reconcile. Also provided are a link to the event’s 70 participating chefs, representing more than 50 Louisiana food establishments. Of course, Emeril’s restaurants get the plug as well. The Visit NOLA page has additional suggestions under the umbrellas of shop, play, arts and jazz.
Boudin, Bourbon and Beer is part of a fundraising weekend the Emeril Lagasse Foundation holds annually in New Orleans. Together with the premier black-tie Carnivale du Vin wine auction and gala, the weekend raised more than $3 million in 2018.
According to the foundation, in 2018 it donated more than $2.2 million to 42 children’s charities and over $650,000 to nonprofit organizations through its community grants program. Many of those beneficiaries are located around New Orleans, such as Broad Community Connections, Café Hope, Covenant House, Crescent City Schools, Edible School Yard Nola, Einstein Charter School, Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Education Fund, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Youth Empowerment Project. It also supported the capital campaign of the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Foundation with a $250,000 matching grant.
All of that is to say, the ticket price for Boudin, Bourbon and Beer is $150, which is expensive for a lot of people, but the proceeds from the event support organizations doing critical work for children and future leaders of the hospitality industry.
Admission includes a feeling of philanthropy, boudin-inspired dishes from more than 70 participating chefs, and open bars featuring Abita craft beers, Buffalo Trace bourbons and premium spirits in craft cocktails and fine wines. There are also dessert tasting stations, a premium cigar bar, chef-curated silent auction items and live music. Performers for 2019 include Motel Radio, Fruition, Grace Potter and headliner Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.
The menu shows the tradition of chefs vying to outshine each other continues. Douglas Braselman of Emeril’s will be making Boudin Rice Crispy Treats. Nina Compton of Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro is preparing Jerk Pork Bahn Mi. Michael Gulotta of Maypop and Mopho is serving a Boudin Chimichanga. And from left field, Frank Brigtsen and Emily Pfeifer of Brigsten’s are going vegetarian and will offer Vegetarian Smoked Mushroom Boudin.
Boudin, Bourbon and Beer is Friday, Nov. 8 from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Champions Square, adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It has sold out in the past, and there’s no rain in the forecast for this outdoor event, so I recommend you buy your tickets online.