Skip to comments.From combat Marine to celebrity chef: How John Besh built a restaurant empire post-Katrina
Posted on 10/21/2017 2:15:18 PM PDT by BBell
The foundation of John Besh's culinary celebrity was built in the late 1990s, on the North Shore. He grew up in Slidell, the son of a former fighter pilot paralyzed by a drunk driver while riding his bike. Besh was 9 at the time.
By 1999, when Food & Wine Magazine named him one of the country's Best New Chefs for his cooking at Artesia, a now-closed restaurant in Abita Springs, Besh was a Marine combat veteran of the first Gulf War who'd apprenticed at restaurants in France and Germany.
The fact that Besh was a precociously gifted craftsman with a boy-next-door charm became more widely apparent after he opened Restaurant August, in the winter of 2001. The precise, worldly cooking at August was of a similar caliber to what was then found at the best restaurants on the west and east coasts. August is the only open New Orleans restaurant to have been awarded five beans, The Times-Picayune's highest critical rating, since 2000.
At August, Besh embraced early aught dining trends - foams, hollowed eggshells as serving vessels - while also claiming allegiance to New Orleans' French-Creole fine dining tradition. That allowed the chef an easy pivot to the rhetoric of preservation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
''I have a responsibility to take indigenous foods and pay them more homage," he told the New York Times in January 2006.
Besh, who famously cooked for flood victims and first responders after striding into the flooded city with a gun, willed himself into a position of consequence in the city's arduous rebuilding project. It was a period of historic uncertainty in New Orleans but also, as Besh would demonstrate to powerful effect, one of abundant opportunity.
(Excerpt) Read more at nola.com ...
He is a practicing Catholic. He got a wife and 4 kids that I know of.
Oh.ok. I’ve seen his show on PBS.
He’s an excellent chef. I liked him very much when his show was on one of the networks, about 10 plus years ago. I didn’t know that he was a veteran. Good for him!
Besh was born in Meridian, Mississippi, and raised in Southern Louisiana. He has been married to Jennifer Besh since 1991. Besh is a former US Marine. In 1992 he graduated from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) but his schooling was cut short due to serving time in the Gulf war.
In 2006, Besh won the James Beard Award for Best Chef, South. In 2008, he earned Food Arts Silver Spoon Award for “revitalizing the culinary legacy of New Orleans”.
Many of his restaurants celebrate Louisiana regional cooking, including; Restaurant August, Besh Steakhouse, Lüke, La Provence, Domenica, Pizza Domenica, Johnny Sanchez, Shaya and Borgne.
Thoroughly enjoy his cooking show, though I would never attempt any of those recipes. NOLA is one of the homes of my heart, my grandmother managed The Columns on St. Charles, and we drove down every Easter vacation to enjoy the city. That WAS 454,999 years ago. Chawmin’ memories:)
New Orleans has some wonderful restaurants.
A Marine, who knew! But his kinetic energy that he tries to suppress gives him away, along with his true heart. I’m there when he pops up on Create.. can’t praise the guy enough.
He just seems like such a nice man.
Strange article in the fact that they lay out the claim that the workplace fosters sexual harassment, but then never really expand on that topic at all. Seems strange especially given all the claims as of late. I guess they felt compelled to make mention of it, but didn’t really want to.
Anyone know if he sold La Provence on the Northshore?
He seems nice. Saw him and one of his sons on a cooking show lately, his son also seemed like a nice polite young man.
Hope he continues to do well.
JOHN BESH’S DOMENICA // 2016 THANKSGIVING DAY MENU
five-course “family-style” menu—traditional holiday flavors combined with authentic Italian dishes. chef Alon Shaya has created a “per la famiglia” menu all day-—his five-course menu of exquisite Italian dishes seasoned with traditional Thanksgiving Day flavors.”Thanksgiving meal at Domenica is truly my favorite. This year, I put my own Italian spin on it. We look forward to having you try it out,” offers Chef Alon Shaya.Price is $55 per person. Reservations are encouraged.
Antipasto- Zuppa Di Cipolla —Onion soup with focaccia, roasted garlic, and pecorino cheese
Primo- Tortelli Di Zucca-—Pumpkin filled Ravioli with black walnuts and cream
Secondo- Braciole Di Tachino
Heritage Turkey stuffed with pancetta and sage dressing
Contorni —Sauteed Rapini-—Olive Oil Whipped Potatoes -—
Dolce- Crostata Di Pinoli -— Pine nut and brown butter tart
Watched his show many times and have seen him mentioned that he was in the military. Highly doubt many in the restaurant field are conservative. Go along to get along is a good guess at this point in his career.
JOHN BESH'S CHOPPED SALAD
DRESSING Whisk 2 tb Champagne vinegar, 1/3 cup evo, s/p.
ASSEMBLY Mix 2 tbl dressing w/ 1/2 lb prepared beet salad or chp cooked beets. Add to rest of dressing 18 baby carrots, halved lengthwise, 1/2 lb blanched fingerling slices 1/2 inch thick, 1/2 pound chp marinated artichoke hearts, pound fennel bulb, thinly sliced on mandoline, 4 radishes, thinly sliced, 1/2 thin-sliced cuke quarters, 3 oz pea shoots, 2 tb chp dill, S/p; toss to coat. Plate.
SERVE scattered dressed beets on top.
I’m a squid and even a swabbie knows there are no “former” Marines!
They really do. I used to watch Chef Besh’s show on PBS every Saturday. Tried a few recipes of his and once again realized why I ain’t no chef. I’ll just go to Nawlin’s and eat at his restaurants.........;)
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