Celebrity Chef and Northshore native John Besh
Celebrity Chef John Besh

Northshore People

Maybe there's something in the water. The Northshore is and has been home to many creative people, artists, musical talents, authors… Here's a list of some of them:

Chef John Besh

He's a south Louisiana boy with blue eyes, a wicked sense of humor, and an angel's touch in the kitchen. As the head of the Besh Restaurant Group, the chef has a growing empire of restaurants in New Orleans and beyond, including Restaurant August, Borgne, Lüke, Domenica, Shaya, Willa Jean and Johnny Sanchez. His first restaurant, though, was La Provence here on the Northshore, in Lacombe. Now owned and operated by Chef Eric Hunter and wife Jennifer, the menu continues to showcase fresh, local and seasonal ingredients from the on-site farm.

Besh is everywhere these days, on Bravo's "Top Chef" series and NBC's "Today Show" as well as in his own cooking series on PBS. Besh is also the author of several well-received cookbooks, including "My New Orleans," "John Besh's Family Table," and his most recent, published in Fall 2015, "Besh Big Easy." Besh turned his first two cookbooks into a PBS cooking series, taped in his Northshore home's studio kitchen. (photo above by Rush Jagoe). The John Besh Foundation works to promote the preservation of Louisiana's culinary heritage and cultivate new talent through scholarships and grants. Chef Besh and his wife, Jenifer, are raising their four sons here on the Northshore.

Walker Percy

This acclaimed novelist fell in love with the Northshore in 1950, when he moved to Covington. Percy lived here for four decades and is buried in the cemetery at his beloved St. Joseph's Abbey nearby. He is the subject each year of the Walker Percy Symposium hosted by the St. Tammany Parish Library, which holds a collection of Percy items. Percy wrote six novels while living in Covington, including "The Moviegoer," for which he won the National Book Award, "Love in the Ruins" and "The Second Coming."

Amanda ShawAmanda Shaw

At the age of eight this Covington fiddler became the youngest soloist in the Baton Rouge Symphony. Now in her twenties, she's already had a jam-packed career full of accomplishments. You may have seen her in the film —Hurricane on the Bayou," caught her in concert or in a couple of made-for-TV Disney movies. Shaw recently signed with Rounder Records, which released her "Pretty Runs Out" CD, an upbeat convergence of pop and Louisiana roots music. A singer/songwriter as well as "fiddling wizard" (per, Amanda collaborated on the album with New Orleans' own Anders Osborne and Troy "Trombone" Shorty, another rising star.

12 Stones

This post-grunge rock band hails from Mandeville. Lead vocalist Paul McCoy won a Grammy for his work on the Evanescence single "Bring Me to Life." 12 Stones songs have been featured in the movie soundtracks of Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Daredevil, and The Scorpion King.

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

The noted bluesman made his home in Slidell in his later years, lending his name to a barbecue restaurant and delighting customers with impromptu performances. The Grammy-winner played many instruments and toured the world, influencing such performers as Albert Collins, Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton. Gatemouth died of cancer shortly after his Slidell home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.

Ronnie Kole 

An accomplished pianist, Kole has made Slidell his home for a long while now. He's played for presidents (and a pope), recorded almost 30 CDs and albums, and performed concerts at Carnegie Hall as well as in more than 500 cities around the world. A familiar face in New Orleans and on the Northshore, Kole has been lauded by Harry Connick Jr. "When you look up piano in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Ronnie Kole," he has said. "He's one of the great players of our time."

Louis Prima

The New Orleans-born entertainer, singer/songwriter and trumpeter was known as the King of the Swingers when he opened the Pretty Acres Golf Course in Covington. The golf course is gone, a WalMart and Home Depot in its place, but Louie Prima Drive is still there. Prima is remembered for such songs as "Just a Gigolo," "Jump, Jive an' Wail," and "That Old Black Magic," for which he and Keely Smith won a Grammy in 1958.

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