We southern residents, visitors, and drifters know that this is a time where Southern food has never been better. Foodies are thankful for the amazing chefs in the region like Louisiana native John Besh who are turning out some of the most soulful, unctuous, satisfying fare in the country. But thankful doesn’t seem like quite the right term. Blessed? Eternally grateful? Proud as punch? This is how we feel about living in, and traveling, below the Mason Dixon.
With an entire region of cuisine constantly evolving, you’d think it’d be impossible to keep up. In reality, Southern chefs have been thriving in the ever-changing, ever-progressing world of food. Chef John Besh is no exception. It’s not just the great state of Louisiana who loves Besh, but the whole world—the family—of Southern food adores this James Beard award winner. Is it his culinary prowess? His endearing demeanor? Is it the hair? Maybe a combination of all three. We love him becuase at his core he’s the type of chef who knows that the most important thing at any table is the company. Talk about a Southern icon who practices what the South preaches.
His cookbook titles alone can give you an idea of who he is: Cooking from the Heart and My Family Table. He sure has opened our eyes to how we look at today’s South. In both books, the strength of his recipes combined with the colorful stories is an arrangement that’s unparalleled. It’s that familial storytelling that is so endearing, you’ll feel like you’ve grabbed a glass of sweet tea and are sitting next to the chef in a front porch rocking chair instead of reading a cookbook in your home.
It’s not just the Southern home-sweet-home market that Besh has capitalized upon. He’s got the upscale diners flocking to him, too. Most notably by developing menus that make the most of authentic, southern cuisine with a modern, Cajun twist. John Besh’s restaurants are unique, upscale, and bucket-list worthy. In his eight restaurants, you’ll find a flawless blend of semi-traditional mouth-watering dishes. Lacombe, Louisiana, New Orleans, and San Antonio are lucky enough to have these gems in the heart of their cities. Grab a perfectly seared steak cooked to perfection right inside Harrahs New Orleans at Besh Steak . Treat yourself to a night at August, where words like kimchi and marrow share menu space with grilled octopus, duckling, and rabbit. Borgne is more casual dining, with a long concrete bar spanning the restaurant. The happy hour menu sets the tone as the perfect place to grab a drink and watch the big game; while coastal cuisine is highlighted by shrimp toast rissoles & a rich oyster spaghetti.
Of course, the list goes on and on (Lüke, Lüke San Antonio, La Provence, American Sector, Soda Shop, and Domenica). No matter which restaurant you decide to frequent, you’ll find that each plate is composed of a balance of charming personality, classic technique, and the perfect combination of down-home and high-end flavor that any restaurateur would covet.
His Southern humility, gentility, and passion for generosity are notable. The John Besh Foundation was established in 2011 to better serve the community by bringing a focus to his efforts in New Orleans. The foundation provides the Chef’s Move!: The John Besh and Bride Mayor Scholarship, in additional to grants and loans to individuals in the New Orleans community with the passion, creativity and knowledge to enact change in New Orleans and Louisiana. Like any good Southern boy, Besh has a heart for philanthropy, and this foundation and its initiatives support local farmers, students, and the community in an effort to sustain the history and improve the future of The Big Easy and the culinary world within it.
We simply can’t get enough of Chef John Besh, and we have a feeling that his successes over the past years are just the tip of the iceberg for this talented Louisiana boy.