April 27, 2022

Dinner of the Century is Back at Chef John Folse Culinary Institute

Dinner of the Century is Back at Chef John Folse Culinary Institute

For the first time in over two years, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University is inviting members of the community to be a part of their annual “Dinner of the Century” fundraiser, according to this news release from the school.

Director of the Culinary Institute, Chef John Kozar, commented on the return of the traditional fundraiser by saying, “this is the first Dinner of the Century since the pandemic began over two years ago. We are excited to be able to bring this unique culinary experience back to our community.” The theme for this year’s dinner is named “A Joyful Magnificence Celebrating Catherine de Medici.”

This year’s menu is inspired by the Queen of France from 1547-1559, Catherine de Medici, who has influenced much of the way we eat and even think about food today. Having been born in Italy, Catherine de Medici introduced many ingredients, recipes, and culinary culture that she had grown up with to the French, making the rest history. Chef John Kozar commented on the cuisine set to be served by saying, “this historic menu is a mix of modern and antique dishes that include some of Catherine de Medici’s favorite treats, as well as some iconic items from Pascal’s Manale, all of which is created by our student chefs and the Chef John Folse team.”

The last planned “Dinner of the Century” fundraiser event was to be held in April 2020, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; luckily, this 2022 event aims to pick up the torch and carry the tradition onward. In addition to the culinary celebration of various dishes, the evening will be used as an opportunity to induct the DeFelice Family of Pascal’s Manale Restaurant into the Lafcadio Hearn Hall of honor, an honorary event that was originally slated for the since-canceled 2020 fundraising dinner.

The Lafcadio Hearn Award is one that is bestowed upon culinary professionals who have had a positive, long-term influence on the cuisine and greater culture of Louisiana and throughout the nation. The honor is named after Lafcadio Hearn, an influential figure who penned a series of books and articles introducing New Orleans to the world while helping to document Creole cuisine for future generations. Having passed away in 1904, Hearn’s legacy lives on in how the public interprets Creole cuisine today as well as in the inducting members into the Lafcadio Hearn Hall of Honor. The Defelice Family will join other influential chefs and restaurants in the Hall of honor. This includes Ella Brennan, Frank Brigtsen, Leah Chase, Drago Cvitanovich, Ruth Fertel, and T.J. Moran, among many others.

It’s appropriate that the DeFelice Family of Pascal’s Manale Restaurant fame be inducted into the Hall of Honor, because not only has Pascal’s Manale Restaurant been an influential part of New Orleans cuisine, but since the very beginning, the restaurant has been a family affair. First opened by Frank Manale in 1913, the restaurant was taken over by Manale’s nephew Pascal Radosta in 1937, who took full ownership of the establishment and later added his name to create the infamous culinary institute that we now know today.

The restaurant eventually gained international attention after Pascal’s youngest brother, Jake, created one of the most iconic New Orleans dishes in the 1950s: barbecue shrimp. Later,  Pascal’s youngest daughter, Virginia DeFelice, and her family purchased the restaurant in 1988. The family continued to operate the restaurant until November 2019.

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University’s “A Joyful Magnificence Celebrating Catherine De Medici” also honoring The DeFelice Family of Pascal’s Manale Restaurant will be held on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Nicholl’s Cotillion Ballroom in the Bollinger Student Union. A cocktail reception will be held at six o’clock with dinner service starting at seven o’clock. Information to reserve seats and sponsorships can be found here, with all proceeds going toward the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

For more education-related information, click here.

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