Lead Us The Way!
Ralph Brennan receives The Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award by the National Restaurant Association.
Where the culinary culture of New Orleans is concerned, you don’t get much more in-the-thick-of-it than Ralph Brennan. A third generation scion of the family whose name is synonymous with New Orleans restaurants, he is steeped in the industry as a consummate professional – and he was up in Chicago- May 19-24, 2011 for the annual National Restaurant Associations’ gathering. Not just as a past President, but to receive the highest honor in the hospitality industry for a restaurateur - The Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award- the premiere award bestowed by the NRAEF. This award is presented annually to an individual who has shown extraordinary achievement and exemplary leadership in bringing public focus to the hospitality industry through philanthropy and community service.
New Orleans is in the forefront of many minds as the Mississippi River has threatened to deluge so many communities, the anniversary of oil spill has passed, and the anniversary of Katrina approaches at summer's end. Not a day passes since that fateful one in August 2005, that Ralph Brennan doesn't think about the restoration of New Orleans. His professional life is all about welcoming tourists and visitors – and even family – to the New Orleans food culture, an essential aspect of the city. Ralph Brennan has been a leading advocate for his hometown, testifying before Congress after the oil spill and hosting the press whenever he has the opportunity. His commitment and investment to the city is apparent in the four new establishments he has opened in the past 3 years: café NOMA within the New Orleans Museum of Art, Heritage Grill with the Ralph Brennan Catering & Events facilities in the Heritage Plaza complex in Metairie, and café b in Metairie.
Ralph shows his support in many ways and is especially devoted to his dedicated staff. He surprised his executive team, managers, and key long-term associates - corporate chef Haley Bitterman and marketing director of 18 years, Charlee Williamson - with a trip to Chicago with him and his family in order that his 'whole family' be present at the awards ceremony.
Ralph Brennan has been honored before in Chicago, back in 2008, when his cookbook - Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook by Vissy d’ Arte, was celebrated as one of only ten top cookbooks in the country.
On a side note- what is Ralph’s absolute favorite meal? A cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate milkshake – has been since childhood. Can he get that at any one of his own restaurants? “No, as a matter of fact, I can’t,” he laughs. “Just as well!”
Spoken by a man who understands how to live in the land of plenty.