“Food is like a lifestyle,” Jervon Francis, 19, reflects on her night working back of house alongside Kristen Essig from Coquette. She, along with three other trainees, helped run Guest Chef Night, our monthly intimate dining experience with our city’s culinary stars.
Kristen Essig has been named one of Coastal Living Magazines “5 Coastal Chefs to Watch”(2015), nominated as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “The People’s Best New Chef” (2015), and one of Times Picayune’s Chefs to Watch (2014). Kristen proudly joined the Coquette family in the fall of 2016 as a co-chef and partner with her love, Michael.
She served a three-course meal and, working alongside her, were some of our current trainees. Darius Simmons, 17, distinctly remembered the food they cooked. “We made steak and shrimp. I got to taste some of the snacks and appetizers Chef [Kristen] made.” The menu included a surf and turf element with grilled Gulf Shrimp with sauce Romesco and pickled horseradish Gremolata for the first course and Beef Hanger Steak with Louisiana heirloom tomatoes, Georgia peaches, and pickled squash served over braised black-eyed peas for the second course.
“I learned how to grill and that was something I learned the most about from that night,” Gerald Jordan, 20, recalled. “It’s very hot. I still got a lot to learn but it was a good experience.”
With every seat in our cafe filled, the smoked catfish dip with salsa verde and buckwheat crackers got the night off to a great start. “Food really brings people together, everyone in that room was from different backgrounds but all eating together,” Jervon remarked.
Jervon said she really enjoyed working alongside Kristen. “She was patient and very attentive, I didn’t feel rushed and I got to ask a lot of questions.” Jervon will be starting her externship with Kristen at Coquette next week.
“I’m excited to learn more from her.”
When the night was almost over Gerald and the other trainees got to introduce themselves to the guests. “I’m not scared to introduce myself to the guests. I told them the part of the food I did- the grilling.”
“We worked as a team, we didn’t have to rush to do anything and Chef (Kristen) was real nice,” Darius said. He said his team worked together really well. When asked what his favorite dish was he couldn’t pin it down to just one “I just love all food.”
Darius, Jervon and Gerald are on their way to graduate on June 22 and will be starting their Externships with Ruby Slipper, Coquette and Clesi’s.