Like Aunt, Like Nephew

Ralph Brennan Receives Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award


They say the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree. In Ralph Brennan's case, it's proven by the fact that he received the Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award from New Orleans Food & Wine Experience [NOFWE,] honoring the woman credited with putting New Orleans cuisine on the map. She is the sister of Ralph Brennan's late father, and it was from both of them that he learned the hospitality trade.


"We are thrilled to honor such an industry icon,” states NOWFE President Ted Selogie. “Ralph has been on the ground level of so many of our longstanding events—a pioneer in that arena—and has made significant contributions to the hospitality industry and our community during a career spanning nearly four decades.” The award was bestowed at a gala on Thursday, October 6 at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. In one week, a documentary film highlighting Ella Brennan's monumental role in the restaurant industry will premiere at the New Orleans Film Festival.


Ralph Brennan, 64, entered the family business as a teenager, working for his father, uncles, Aunt Adelaide an Aunt Ella, now 90, as a prep cook at Brennan's. Aunt Adelaide and Aunt Ella have been two of his strongest mentors ever since: from a distance, as he earned a degree in economics and an MBA, working for several years afterward for Price Waterhouse; then much more closely when he returned to open Mr. B's with his sister Cindy. The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group now comprises eight highly regarded establishments in New Orleans, in the suburb of Metairie, and at the Disneyland resort in California. In the last two years, it has expanded to include the fabulously renovated Brennan's and the historic Napoleon House, both French Quarter landmarks.


Ralph Brennan, himself, is a tireless advocate, not just for the hospitality industry, but for the Gulf seafood industry, and for the city, heritage, and people of New Orleans. He has served as president and chairman of the National Restaurant Association, and has also presided over the restaurant industry associations of Louisiana and New Orleans. He is a member of the governing board of the Culinary Institute of America, and is the author of the critically acclaimed Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook [2008.]


In receiving this award, Ralph Brennan is in very good company: Ella Brennan herself was its inaugural recipient in 2010, followed by chef Paul Prudhomme, liquor magnate and philanthropist Bill Goldring, chef Leah Chase, restaurateurs Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, and Audubon Nature Institute leader Ron Forman.


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