On October 24, the award-winning NOLA Restaurant will celebrate an important milestone - its tenth anniversary serving local customers and visitors in the French Quarter. In the past decade, the restaurant has served over 1 million customers, has received prestigious awards, and has become an integral part of its French Quarter neighborhood. NOLA, which stands for New Orleans, Louisiana - the way New Orleanians have long abbreviated their return address on letters - is the second restaurant owned and operated by Chef Emeril Lagasse.
On the eve of the tenth anniversary, Neal Swidler will return to NOLA to take over the reins as chef de cuisine. Swidler originally served as NOLA’s chef de cuisine from 1998-2000 before heading up the kitchen at Emeril’s Delmonico. General manager Fred Sutherland will continue to oversee all front of the house operations. NOLA’s former chef de cuisine Joel Morgan will travel to Orlando for the December opening of Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, while Andrew Knoll, former executive sous chef takes over the kitchen at Emeril’s Delmonico.
Since NOLA opened its doors in 1992, the menu has been an exploration of what Lagasse calls “new New Orleans” cooking, but with a casual almost rustic tone. NOLA’s opening chef Dave McCelvey - who today is Director of Culinary Operations - developed a menu heavy with indigenous Louisiana products that reflected the soul of the building and the spirit of the immigrant French Quarter. The wood-burning oven in particular is integral to the rustic menu. The Garlic-Smeared Wood Oven-Baked Pocket Bread with Parmesan Cheese, and Nola pizzas from the wood-burning oven continue to be signature dishes today, along with the indigenous seafood like the Cornmeal-Crusted Oysters and Cedar Plank Fish with Horseradish Crust.
NOLA features an unusual floor plan with the first and second floors open to one another and liberal use of industrial materials such as corrugated tin, local barge board from river vessels, and exposed brick. The casual chef’s bar has a prominent view of the central wood-burning oven and open kitchen. The menu and wine list are designed to cater to the more casual diner — both visitors and native New Orleanians.
Chef Emeril Lagasse is now the chef/proprietor of eight restaurants, two of which are scheduled to open in 2002-2003 - Emeril’s Tchoup Chop (pronounced chop-chop) at Universal Orlando’s new Royal Pacific Resort in the fall, and Emeril’s Restaurant Atlanta in summer 2003. Emeril became a national TV personality with the Food Network’s production of “The Essence of Emeril” and “Emeril Live” which reach over 70 million homes daily. Additionally, Emeril is a food correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and author of seven cookbooks, including his first kids cookbook, Emeril’s There’s A Chef in My Soup!