Chef John Folse is the owner of two award-winning restaurants in South Louisiana. His most famous, Lafitte's Landing Restaurant in Donaldsonville, has been recognized as one of the finest restaurants in and around New Orleans. White Oak Plantation, in Baton Rouge, houses his national catering division. Chef Folse is the author of "The Evolution of Cajun & Creole Cuisine", published in 1990 and "Plantation Celebrations" in 1994.
John is respected around the world as an authority on Cajun and Creole cuisine and culture. He hosts his own national television cooking show on PBS. He has taken his famous "Taste of Louisiana" from Hollywood to the Great Wall of China, opening promotional Louisiana restaurants in Hong Kong, Japan, Beijing, London, Paris, Rome, Bogota, and Taipei. In 1989, Chef Folse was invited to create the first ever Vatican State Dinner in Rome, and while there had a private audience with Pope John Paul II. In 1990, Chef Folse was named the "National Chef of the Year" by the American Culinary Federation, the highest honor bestowed upon an American chef. In that same year, his Lafitte's Landing was inducted into the "Fine Dining Hall of Fame", one of ten restaurants in America honored with this prestigious award. In 1987, Chef Folse was selected as "Louisiana Restauranteur of the Year" by the Louisiana Restaurant Association and in November of 1988, the Louisiana Sales and Marketing Executives named him "Louisiana's Marketing Ambassador to the World".
In 1988, Chef Folse made international headlines by opening his "Lafitte's Landing East" in Moscow during the presidential summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. This opening represented the first time an American restaurant had operated on Soviet soil. Immediately following this venture, John hosted ten Soviet chefs for the first Soviet-American Culinary Exchange.
Chef Folse is the recipient of numerous culinary awards and recognitions, and has been honored by local, state and international governments for his continuing efforts to showcase America's regional cooking around the world. One of the most prestigious acknowledgments of Chef Folse's career was his selection as the May, 1992, commencement speaker for the 78th graduating class of Johnson & Wales University, the hospitality industry's largest university. On this occasion, Chef Folse was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Culinary Arts Degree. In November of that same year, he was called upon to give the commencement address to the graduating class of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
In July, 1994, at its National Convention in San Francisco, California, Chef Folse assumed the role of National President of the American Culinary Federation—the largest organization of professional chefs in America.
White Oak Plantation
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Cajun and Creole cultures are distinct and so are their cuisines. The Cajuns settled the bayou countryside of southeastern Louisiana whereas the Creoles inhabited New Orleans.
Cajuns are descendants of the French Acadians who fled to Louisiana after the British deported them from Acadia in Nova Scotia and the Maritime Provinces of Canada in 1755 for refusing to pledge allegiance to England. Conversely, the Creoles were European-born aristocrats wooed by the Spanish to establish New Orleans around 1690.
The Cajuns learned to adapt to their new surroundings in Louisiana. They utilized ingredients indigenous to the area and did not attempt to recreate the classical cuisine of Europe. They were by-and-large fisherman and trappers—and what ended up in their black iron pots each night reflected their lifestyle.
The Creoles, on the other hand, brought from Europe their wealth, education and cooks with a knowledge of European styles. Influences of French, Spanish, German, Italian, English, African and native American techniques crept into the pots of these "new Americans."
Perhaps the easiest way to comprehend the difference is to understand that Cajun food typified the lifestyle of fisherman and trappers, who moved throughout the bayous with a black iron pot in which they slowly simmered the catch and harvest of the day over a campfire. The Creoles, living in New Orleans, revolved their cuisine around haute European influences recipes, techniques, sauces, and presentation.
"As different areas of our country begin to define their cooking techniques and ingredients, Cajun and Creole cuisine will ultimately establish itself as America's premier regional cuisine."
—Chef John Folse
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scoop meat from the baked sweet potatoes, place in a mixing bowl and mash. The five potatoes should produce two full cups of mashed sweet potatoes. Add cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring well to incorporate the flavors into the potatoes.
Using a large cooking spoon, divide the mixture into six equal parts and roll each into a ball shape. Once shaped, use your thumb to press a hole into the center of the ball. Fill this indentation with one teaspoon of mayhaw jelly. Close the hole by pushing the potato over the jelly. Roll potatoes in the roasted pecans to coat evenly.
Place the pecan balls on a buttered cookie sheet. Bake ten to twelve minutes. Remove from oven, place on a serving plate and top each potato with an additional spoonful of mayhaw jelly. Serve immediately.
(Makes 3 cups)
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine crawfish, cucumber, cream cheese and mayonnaise. Blend on high one to two minutes or until all is well processed. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, parsley, mint, dill and thyme. Continue to process until flavors are well blended. All lemon juice and season to taste will salt, pepper and Louisiana Gold.
This dip is ideal for any raw vegetables or chips.
Using a sharp boning knife, cut chicken into eight serving pieces. If the breasts are large, you may leave a large portion attached to each wing. This will provide two additional serving pieces.
In large bowl, season chicken generously with all of the ingredients except garlic and rosemary. Allow to marinate approximately one hour prior to frying.
In a large black iron skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat. sauté chicken until golden brown on both sides. Add garlic and rosemary and lower heat to simmer. Cover, turn occasionally and allow to cook approximately 30 minutes. The chicken will release its own juice in the pan creating a natural sauce.
If you should wish to have more of a gravy once the chicken is fried, remove from skillet and add chicken stock. Bring mixture to a rolling boil and reduce to one half volume. Season to taste and serve along with chicken.
Provided by Chef John Folse
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified January 2007
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