Food events bring Caribbean crawfish, pizza in the garden, a Juneteenth feast on the farm | Where NOLA Eats

Restaurants are getting back to normal, festivals are returning, and so are the smaller food events that normally pepper the New Orleans calendar. Here’s a look at a few of note coming up:

A Juneteenth feast on the farm

Collaboration has been a key part of Serigne Mbaye’s journey in New Orleans. Now, this rising star chef has assembled a crew of collaborators for a celebration of Juneteenth that doubles as a road trip and an exploration of African American culinary roots.

Called Afro Freedom / Afro Feast, it will take place on a farm in Petal, Mississippi, near Hattiesburg, with a communal meal centered around outdoor open-fire cooking.

“I want to practice how our ancestors used to eat when they celebrated Juneteenth, to demonstrate those techniques,” said Mbaye. “It wasn’t a style, it was a means of survival, and this is an homage to our ancestors, the ones who started those fires.”

Juneteenth, marking the day on June 19, 1865, when formerly enslaved people got word of their emancipation, inspired Mbaye to hold a series of dinners last year. One of the guests was Ben Burkett, a leader in the Black farming community. When he invited Mbaye to do an event on his farm in Petal, the wheels were in motion for this year’s edition.

Mbaye is best known for Dakar NOLA, the pop-up and communal dinner series blending Senegalese and Creole cuisine. He also cooks at the Uptown restaurant Mosquito Supper Club. He’s one of six finalists for this year’s James Beard award for Emerging Chef, a national honor.







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A spread of takeout dishes from Dakar NOLA, the pop-up run by chef Serigne Mbaye to showcase flavors of Senegal. A salad of fonio, redfish yassa with caramelized onion sauce, thiakary pudding, plantains, cornbread, and a sandwich stuffed with akarra black eyed pea fritters.




For Afro Freedom / Afro Feast, he’ll be joined by chefs Charly Pierre, of the Haitian restaurant Fritai; Martha Wiggins, of Cafe Reconcile; Indigo Martin, of Indigo Soul Cuisine; and baker Sim J Harris, of House of Brown Sugar.

The menu will be based on each chef’s interpretation of important heritage foods, including barbecue, smothered beans and greens, and jollof rice, a West African dish akin to jambalaya, and red velvet cake.

Cocktails will be fielded by Turning Tables, the New Orleans-based nonprofit working to increase equity for people of color in the bar and spirits business. Expect red-hued drinks, following one of many Juneteenth traditions.

The event on June 19 begins with a cocktail hour at 3 p.m., and there’s a bus provided for those who need transportation for the two-hour drive, departing from Congo Square.

Tickets are $150. Proceeds benefit the Indian Springs Farmers Association, a cooperative for Black farmers in Mississippi. Get tickets via exploretock.com.

A Caribbean crawfish boil

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Lisa Nelson (left) and her daughter Jamila at Queen Trini Lisa, the new Mid-City restaurant serving flavors from Trinidad and Tobago. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)


New Orleans is seeing more buttery, Vietnamese-style crawfish, and even the further fusion twist with Filipino-inspired crawfish from Southern’s Food Truck. Next up, you can get a taste of a Caribbean crawfish boil, thanks to a pair of local chefs and a community group  working to foster change and inclusion in the hospitality field.

The April 24 boil is dubbed Cray, and it goes down April 24, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., outside the Hotel Peter and Paul, 2317 Burgundy St., adjacent to the Elysian Bar restaurant. It’s a benefit for the nonprofit Made in New Orleans Foundation, which address racial equity in the hospitality sector.







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The former Sts. Peter and Paul church is used as an event space by the Hotel Peter & Paul.




Chef Lisa Nelson, of the Caribbean restaurant Queen Trini Lisa, and chef Joshua Blue, a MiNO alum, will put their spin on the crawfish. Expect some tropical ingredients in the boil (like pineapple and mango) and different Caribbean-style sauces for the finished crawfish.

There’s also beer from Faubourg Brewery, spiked sno-balls and popsicles from MiNO alum Barbara Rodriguez. Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots will perform.

Tickets are $75 via eventbrite.com (search under “cray”).

Pizza & Pies in the garden







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Paradigm Gardens in Central City supplies its partner chefs and doubles as an event space for outdoor parties.




Paradigm Gardens, 1131 S. Rampart St., holds down one particular verdant corner of Central City that can feel like an oasis and an in-city field trip all in one.







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Paradigm Gardens in Central City supplies its partner chefs and doubles as an event space for outdoor parties.




The garden setting also doubles as an outdoor venue, and over the years it has evolved a series of periodic events. One of the most popular is called Pizza & Pies, which gathers different restaurants to cook in the garden’s outdoor, wood-fired kitchen.

It returns April 27, with Ancora Pizzeria, Windowsill Pies, Turkey & The Wolf, Fritai, Vals and the Indian pop-up Lufu. There’s beer from Miel Brewing, cocktails from Roulaison Rum and a DJ for tunes. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and tickets, all inclusive, are $75. Get them via paradigmgardensnola.com.

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Karen J. Simmons

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