Nicholls Culinary Institute Unveils new Art Installation

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute recently installed and unveiled a $70,000 cuisine-inspired sculpture on Nicholls’s campus, according to a press release  from the school.

The “Herb Garden” sculpture stands proudly along Louisiana Highway 1 near Bowie Road, both welcoming students and faculty to the Culinary Institute and catching the eye of any La 1 drivers. The sculpture itself depicts Louisiana spices and herbs that are unquestionably essential to any home-cooked meal. Depicted in the sculpture are the culinary staples dill, okra, chili, sassafras, and parsley.

Arizona artist, Dr. Stephen Fairfield was inspired to create the art installation after seeing the increased use of a small, humble herb garden near the school’s Ledet Culinary Building. Nicholls’ Culinary students often tend to the garden, selecting fresh herbs to use in their recipes. Needless to say, this natural and genuine fusion of education, culinary intuition, and nature was certainly enough for the Arizona-based artist to be inspired by.

For a better part of the last decade, Dr. Fairfield has been focusing on creating steel public art sculptures, similar to the piece installed for the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, as well as new media projects. When speaking to Nicholls’ press about how he hopes the piece would be perceived, Dr. Fairfield said, “I hope the public experiences a sense of awe, wonder and appreciative pleasure when seeing the beautiful colors, forms and lighting effects as color waves move over the various parts of the sculpture. This sculpture represents an homage to Louisiana cuisine and to those who care so much about it that they have created a process to perpetuate this culinary cultural expression.”

The “Herb Garden” sculpture was paid for by Louisiana’s “Percent for Art” program. Enacted in 1999, the program sets out to provide Louisiana citizens with an improved public environment by stipulating that whenever more than $2 million in state funds are used by a state agency for the construction or renovation of a state building, 1 percent of the state money should be expended for the acquisition, conservation, restoration, or installation of public art displays on the grounds of that building.

The “Percent for Art” program has been long-standing in Louisiana, as it serves as a dedicated reminder to preserve both the cultural heritage and artistic expression of the state and its people through the installation of public art projects.

The Culinary Director for the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Chef John Kozar said of the installation, “We are excited to show off this centerpiece for our Bistro Ruth patrons, and for anyone who makes their way down La. 1. This artistic representation fits in with our farm-to-table emphasis for our students. These herbs are frequently used in classical Louisiana cuisine, and their placement within this piece of art is incredible.”

It was always in the initial conception of the project for the piece to be attention-grabbing, seeing that the work was on such prominent display along Louisiana Highway 1 and positioned in the front of campus. Fairfield had collaborated on the project with his colleagues from his New Media Public Art Collective, an internationally-accomplished group of artists that specializes in the merging of art and technology to create memorable displays of public art. The collective’s goal was to create a piece that not only grabs the attention of their audience but abstractly reminds them of the integral components of Louisiana cuisine.

Whenever you next find yourself entering the campus of Nicholls State University via La 1, be sure to keep a keen eye out for the impressively-sized, and emotionally-resonant “Herb Garden” sculpture that now makes a proud companion to the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute’s landscape.

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Nicholls State Commencement Announcement

Nicholls State University will hold its 104th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18th in Stopher Gym. The ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences will be held at 9 a.m., followed by the ceremonies for the College of Business Administration and the College of Nursing at noon. The last ceremonies will be held at 3 p.m. for the College of Education and Behavioral Science and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

The ceremony’s keynote speaker delivering the commencement address will be delivered by Dr. Craig Walker, an internationally-known cardiologist who is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, and interventional cardiology. Dr. Walker is a former resident of Bourg and graduated from South Terrebonne High School and earned an undergraduate degree from Nicholls State University in only two years. In reference to being the keynote speaker for the approaching ceremony, Dr. Walker said, “A college degree represents a true accomplishment, but it is just the beginning of a lifetime of learning. I’m proud to serve as the commencement speaker at my alma mater.”

From his impressive success at Nicholls State University, Dr. Walker advanced to the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans to earn his doctorate and to Lafayette Charity Hospital to complete his residency. Subsequently, New Orleans’ Ochsner Foundation Hospital and Harvard Medical School both awarded him fellowships.

In 1983, Dr. Walker returned to Terrebonne Parish to open the Houma Heart Clinic. When he first opened the doors to the clinic, he was the sole employee. However, as the years progressed, opportunities to open more facilities arose. Currently, the Cardiovascular Institute of the South has 19 locations that collectively employ 60 physicians.

Along with his extensive expansion of the Cardiovascular Institute of the South, Dr. Walker founded New Cardiovascular Horizons– a well-respected international conference that facilitates discussion on innovations and developments in cardiovascular medicine. Each year, the foundation holds 16 U.S. conferences, 4 international conferences, and consists of more than 5,000 global participants. New Cardiovascular Horizons will hold its 20thannual conference this year.

In 1997, Dr. Walker collaborated with Chef John Folse to construct a cookbook called Something Old & Something New: Louisiana Cooking with a Change of Heart. This cookbook features 200 traditional Cajun and Creole recipes alongside modified versions of the classics to make them healthier. The cookbook also features stories discussing the backgrounds of some of the classic recipes.

Dr. Walker maintains several ties in education. He currently works as Clinical Professor of Medicine at LSU and Tulane Medical Schools. He also holds the position of Clinical Editor of the news bulletin Vascular Disease Management, and holds other editorial positions on journals such as the Journal of Endovascular Therapy, Endovascular Today, and Global Vascular Digest. Additionally, Dr. Walker is a member of the Board of Directors of the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society and has participated as an associate director at numerous medical conferences, both national and international. Nicholls State is honored to have him as this year’s keynote speaker.

Because of his numerous strides made in the medical field, Nicholls State University will award Dr. Walker with an honorary doctorate during the 104th commencement ceremony.

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Nicholls to Screen Documentary on Female Chefs

Nicholls State University recently announced that on March 26th it will screen a new award-winning documentary regarding Female Chefs by Joanna James, “A Fine Line: A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen.”  Part of a national tour, and screening during National Women’s History Month, the acclaimed documentary highlights female chefs who make up only 7 percent of head chefs and restaurant owners. The film takes a deeper look at why this statistic exists, despite the high number of female culinary students.  “The ironic part about this discussion is that most culinary programs, like the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, have predominantly women enrollees, yet professionally those numbers don’t match,” said the Nicholls Culinary Department head, chef John Kozar. “That’s what the film is all about. What can we do, all of us together, to create a level playing field?”  Nicholls’ female to male ratio at the John Folse Culinary Institute is more than 65 percent female,” Kozar said.

Chef John Folse Culinary Institute: Female Chefs - Nicholls State University Logo

Hosted by The John Folse Culinary Institute housed at Nicholls University and emceed by Marcelle Bienvenu, culinary instructor and longtime New Orleans journalist, the event will include the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to New Orleans Chef, Author and television host Leah Chase, the Queen of Creole Cuisine and owner of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant.  

After the screening, there will be a discussion amongst a series of expert panelists, including some notable Nicholls alumnae and local chefs.  Among the panelists are: Kristen Essig, chef and owner of Coquette in New Orleans; Katie O’Hara, pastry chef at Mopho and Maypop in New Orleans; Anne Milneck, owner of Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge; and Samantha Love, assistant executive property chef at Caesars Entertainment Corp. in Baltimore, Maryland.

Kozar stated when interviewed, “We’re excited to be able to host this documentary.  Our enrollment at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is more than 65 percent female, so we have made it a priority to showcase the success of our alumni and other women in the workforce. That’s why we started and continue the Empowered Women Chefs Series, which brings in successful female chefs to connect with our students.”

Founded in 1993 in response to the disparity outlined in Joanna James’s documentary, was the nonprofit organization The International Association of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR).  WCR includes membership of thousands of women, from culinary students, line cooks, pastry chefs, and executive chefs to educators, food writers, farmers, media professionals, and more. Their mission is to advance women across the culinary industry through education and connection.  They offer opportunities for professional development and mentorship. Their annual National Conference is held every spring, with the 2019 National Conference scheduled for Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota on April 27-29.

The conference will cover all aspects of the food and hospitality by offering class, speakers, and camaraderie. It celebrates the strength and success of women in the profession and hopes that women leave feeling inspired and revitalized.  If you’d like more information on WCR and/or the April conference, click here.

The Nicholls documentary screening will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Mary and Al Danos Theater. Tickets are $40 for the cocktail reception, the screening and the panel, or $20 for the screening and the panel. To purchase tickets, click here.

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is named after famous Louisiana chef John Folse, acclaimed and award-winning Louisiana chef.  It was recently announced that it would be offering a series of Saturday cooking classes to the local community called Cooking With the Colonels.  Each class will include an orientation, cooking lessons, a family meal, and a tour of the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building which is the facility that houses the Nicholl’s State on-campus Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

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Nicholls Partners with Rouses For Community Cooking Courses

Nicholls recently announced that it would be partnering with Rouse’s Supermarkets to offer a series of cooking classes to the local community called Cooking With the Colonels.  Each class will be Saturdays throughout the year from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include an orientation, cooking lessons, a family meal, and a tour of the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building which is the facility that houses the Nicholl’s State on-campus Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.  

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is named after famous Louisiana chef John Folse.  Chef John Folse, born in St. James Parish in 1946, learned early that the secrets of Cajun cooking lay in the unique ingredients of Louisiana’s swamp floor pantry. Folse seasoned these raw ingredients with his passion for Louisiana culture and cuisine, and from his cast iron pots emerged Chef John Folse & Company.

When Folse opened Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant in 1978 in Donaldsonville, he set out to market his restaurant by taking “a taste of Louisiana” worldwide. He introduced Louisiana’s indigenous cuisine to Japan, Beijing, Hong Kong and Paris. In 1988, Folse made international headlines with the opening of “Lafitte’s Landing East” in Moscow and again when Folse became the first non-Italian chef to create the Vatican State Dinner in Rome. Later, the Louisiana Legislature gave him the title of “Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World.”

Folse’s Culinary Institute invites aspiring chefs with an adventurous palate and an insatiable desire to work in the food and service industries to pursue a Bachelor of Science or Associate of Science degree in culinary arts at Nicholls, currently the only post-secondary institution in Louisiana offering a four-year culinary degree.  They pride themselves on teaching their students about cuisine from around the world. However, their students are a step above others because of their knowledge of cajun and creole cuisine.

Each class will be taught by award winning chefs and teachers from the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and will concentrate on complex Louisiana fare.  Currently, only the first three classes have been scheduled, the first for Saturday, Jan. 26. That class’s theme will be Louisiana’s natural resources and rich history.  Students will learn prepare dishes incorporating rabbit, oyster, and andouille gumbo; duck and pistachio terrine; wild boar osso bucco with polenta and glazed root vegetables; and riz au lait.  The next class, titled New Orleans Creole Table, will be held on  Saturday, Feb. 23 and participants will cook T’Frere’s turtle soup; oysters Marie Laveau; spit roasted creole leg of lamb; and strawberry creole cream cheese ice cream over pecan pound cake.  The third class is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, and students will veer towards Italian cuisine as they experiment with recipes from Tuscany and Florence like ribollita soup; bruschetta; pollo alla cacciatore; bistecca alla fiorentina; and biscotti.

Class size is limited to 16 students and you must be at least 16 years old to register. Requirements are long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and flat, non-slip, closed-toe shoes. Long hair should be pulled back and students should be prepared for a 2-3 hours of physical activity. Students will work on the recipes in groups of two to three.  Tools will be provided but students are encouraged to bring their own.

Registration for one costs $125, for a couple $200, and for a Rouses’ employee $100. Payment is due two weeks before the class. For more information or to register, visit or call the Office of Continuing Education at 448-4444.

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