Catching, cooking and eating seafood is a lifelong passion of Brian Landry, the chef/owner of QED Hospitality, a restaurant operations management group.
“For as long as I can remember, on the weekend before Thanksgiving, my relatives on my mother’s side would meet up in Venice and we would fish all day Friday,” he says. “We’d almost always get a boatload of speckled trout and redfish. Then we’d have a massive dinner with 15 to 35 people depending on who could make it that year.”
Landry, a graduate of Jesuit High school received dual degrees in biology and philosophy from the University of Alabama. But soon after graduation, he followed his passion into the culinary arts and attended Johnson and Wales, one of the top-ranked culinary and hospitality colleges.
Landry eventually went on to work at Galatoire’s, where he spent five years as the famed restaurant’s executive chef. But in 2010 after the BP oil spill, he took some time away from the kitchen to join the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board as part of an effort to restore confidence in Gulf seafood.
Landry strongly believed if Louisiana lost this family business—one that is passed from generation to generation— because of the challenges fishermen faced as a result of the oil spill, we would lose much more than the availability of fresh seafood.
“Brian is an amazing ambassador of Louisiana Seafood and has promoted the bounty of our waters locally, nationally and internationally for years now,” says Wendy Waren, vice president of communications for the Louisiana Restaurant Association. “He serves as an inspirational example of someone who’s found his passion in the restaurant industry.”
This Wednesday, Chef Landry will appear on NBC’s “Today Show” during the show’s cooking demonstration in its 4th hour, which runs 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
“I’m going to talk about our shrimp: white, brown, and royal red and demonstrate how to prepare Shrimp Etouffee,” he says.
Landry’s no stranger to TV appearances. He was on the Today Show shortly after Hurricane Katrina and competed on the Food Network’s Iron Chef Showdown where he beat Chicago chef Ryan McCasky in a pork belly cook-off to face Iron Chef Stephanie Izard. He lost that heat, but he did the city proud.
He was also a partner in John Besh’s restaurant, Borgne. Last year he sold his share and opened QED Hospitality, where he oversees operations in New Orleans and Nashville.
In New Orleans, he’s the chef/owner of Jack Rose in the Pontchartrain Hotel. He’s also the culinary force behind the hotel’s Bayou Bar. Interesting note: The bar was once where Frank Sinatra and Truman Capote tipped more than a few cocktails. In 1966, it was also where the New Orleans Saints football franchise was christened.
What Landry says he enjoys about his chosen field is the instant gratification of seeing people’s faces light up as they enjoy his food.
“His oyster spaghetti and oyster BLT with pork belly are the stuff of my fondest food memories,” Waren says. “And the crawfish fried popcorn rice he served at the Louisiana Grammy party in Los Angeles was to die for!“
Landry believes that so much of our Louisiana culture is centered around food.
“It’s how we get together and where our memories are made,” he says. “Our company motto is based on the Maya Angelou quote, ‘People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.’ We say, “People may forget what they ate, what they drank, or what we said, but they will not forget how we made them feel.”