Infrogmation of New Orleans / Flickr

This week, we are headed straight to the living room. But we don’t mean the living room in your house; we’re talking about the nearest Irish Pub! In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Louisiana Eats! is exploring all things Irish.

Tulane History Professor and author of the new book “The Irish in New Orleans,” Laura Kelley gives us a history of Irish immigrants in the Crescent City and how they influenced Louisiana culture in some unexpected ways.

Sandra Hanna

It's a common fact of life that there is more to people and things than meets the eye.

For example, many people know New Orleans artist Thomas Mann for his jewelry and metal sculptures, but may have been unfamiliar with his interest with food. An accomplished cook and self-styled ovo-lacto-piscean vegetarian, Thomas will get to show off his chops on Food Network's new competitive cooking show "All-Star Academy," which premieres Sunday, March 1 at 8 p.m. He gives us the scoop on his network debut and what audiences can expect to tune in to.

Louisiana Eats! roving reporter Jyl Benson is more than just a longtime contributor to our show. She's also a prolific food writer and, most recently, author of a new cookbook: "Fun, Funky and Fabulous: New Orleans' Casual Restaurant Recipes." Along with collaborator Sam Hanna, Jyl discusses how the book came together, both offering an in depth look at their approach to food photography.

Also, Chris Boucher, industrial hemp advocate, explains the benefits of Cannabis sativa, the plant often demonized as "The Devil's Weed." While hemp and marijuana are both derivatives of Cannabis sativa, hemp contains no THC, the active chemical that gets marijuana users high. Chris explains why attitudes toward hemp turned sour by the 1930s and why he believes, with new research and growing interest in the product, hemp cultivation will soon become a giant industry in the U.S.

We're taking a long look on both sides of the fence on this week's Louisiana Eats!

Kenny Louie / Flickr

Mardi Gras may be over, but festivities for the Lunar New Year have just begun! On this week's Louisiana Eats!, we celebrate the Year of the Goat the way they do in China, with a baijiu toast, courtesy of baijiu enthusiast Derek Sandhaus. Derek explains to us the story behind the ancient Chinese liquor and its recent emergence in the West.

Then we'll check in with our roving reporter Ian McNulty about this weekend's Tet Festival at Mary Queen of Vietnam in New Orleans East. Gabriella Gershonson of Every Day With Rachel Ray shows us how to host a dim sum brunch. Finally, John Georges, Master Distiller of Angostura Rum, gives us a look at how they ferment, distil and age their famous liquor.

Poppy Tooker

It's Carnival time in Louisiana! We'll take you into the secret realm of some of New Orleans' oldest Mardi Gras krewes by visiting Antoine's and Tujague's Restaurants. Antoine's fifth-generation proprietor Rick Blount gives us a tour of the Rex Room, the Proteus Room, the Twelfth Night Room, and the Hermes Bar. Then, Mark Latter of Tujague's shows us the infamous Krewe d'Etat Room, a place of rollicking misbehavior.

In sharp contrast to elaborate parades and krewes of New Orleans, Mardi Gras in Cajun Country is altogether different. From Lafayette, Toby Rodriguez and Lucius Fontenot talk to us about the prairie Mardi Gras traditions that make Acadiana unique.

Also, Robin Young, host of NPR's Here & Now, turns the tables on Poppy with an interview about Mardi Gras food. There's more to it than just King Cake!

Allons au Mardi Gras!

Ragulin Vitality

When it's unbearably hot in Louisiana, there's not much you can do to beat the heat. Take a tip from the guests on this week's Louisiana Eats!: cool down with a brew or leave town for a couple of weeks.

Ed Lallo / Newsroom Ink

Fine dining restaurants are often where innovations take place in the restaurant industry, but quality food is never limited to those locations. After spending years in white tablecloth restaurants, Jeff and Michael Gulotta started their own place, MoPho, which caters to the palates and pocketbooks of their working class industry friends. 

If you're under 10 years old, the ingredients to an Easter meal are probably self-evident: chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and Peeps. If you're older, the usual suspects may (or may not) be less sweet, but they're likely no less traditional.

Poppy Tooker, host of New Orleans Public Radio's Louisiana Eats, is no stranger to dinner table traditions — even if her favorite was a year-round affair. When Tooker was a child, her great-grandmother was still cooking, and her go-to side dish was something that, at first glance, might sound pretty typical: peas.

Inna Astakhova / Shutterstock


Getting together with family and friends is something Louisianians do best and in springtime, the weather's just right for barbecues and crawfish boils. This week on Louisiana Eats! we're going around the state to investigate two primary foods that feed the masses this time of year.

Sam Irwin grew up in crawfish country, so his fascination with our state's freshwater crustacean seems natural. Sam's the first of many guests to discuss the crawfish, as well as Chris Jay and Scott Gold, who join the conversation with their own advice about the mudbug.

Then we'll turn to members of the Southern Foodways Alliance for some insights into barbecue. Chef Drew Robinson talks about running a barbecue joint with over 30 locations, and John T. Edge discusses the peace-making capabilities of a great smoked pig.  

Wikipedia/Maggie Black's The Medieval Cookbook

Among the many professions that require an ongoing sense of inquiry and creativity is a chef. On this week's Louisiana Eats! we'll hear about the illustrious career of Jacquy Pfeiffer,a pastry chef who's helped found The French Pastry School in Chicago and has also been the subject of a documentary by D.A. Pennebaker.

Then we're joined by the Nola Pie Guy, a graduate of The French Pastry School, to hear how his education prepared him for a life in pastry.

And finally we'll hear how Syrena Johnson keeps her ambitions in fine-dining afloat by mentoring with A-list chefs around New Orleans. 

The morning of Mardi Gras calls for something a little hardier — and a little more indulgent — than your average bowl of Wheaties. After all, a long day lies ahead, thick with flying beads, outlandish parade floats and food in every form and function. When partying in New Orleans starts as early as dawn, a good breakfast is crucial.

And don't forget, Poppy Tooker adds: "This is the one city in America where breakfast drinking is totally socially acceptable." Why let such a splendid opportunity go to waste?