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Chefs of the Northshore
John Besh. Born and raised on the Northshore, in Slidell, Besh is nationally known and acclaimed. He operates eight successful restaurants, five in New Orleans (The American Sector, Domenica, Restaurant August, Besh Steak, Lüke and Borgne), one in San Antonio (Lüke), and one in Lacombe - the lovely La Provence. Besh combines Southern roots, Louisiana ingredients, French technique and Culinary Institute of America training to present beautiful, resonant cuisine. National foodies may recognize Besh from his appearances on "Good Morning America," the Food Network's Iron Chef (he defeated Mario Batali) and from the Sundance program, "Iconoclasts," in which he was profiled with Branford Marsalis.
www.johnbesh.com | www.laprovencerestaurant.com
David Solazzo and Torre Bagalman. This husband-wife chef team have created one of the Northshore's best and most popular dining spots with Del Porto Ristorante in downtown Covington. New Orleans native Bagalman and husband Solazzo absorbed a sophisticated take on regional Italian cuisine while working in California and have transplanted it to the Northshore. The Times-Picayune food critic has declared del Porto the best Italian restaurant in the New Orleans area. Expect housemade pastas, expertly grilled fish, an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients and some of the best antipasti anywhere.
Kim Kringlie. As co-owner and executive chef at the lauded The Dakota Restaurant , Kringlie presents sophisticated, contemporary Louisiana cuisine in an elegant setting. The chef worked his magic at The Inn at Jackson Hole in Wyoming and at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas before being named Executive Chef at Juban's in Baton Rouge. He and business partner Kenneth LaCour opened Dakota in 1990. The two also are partnered in Dakota's sister restaurant, the acclaimed Cuvee in New Orleans.
Joey Najolia. A Northshore native, Najolia is a classically French-trained chef who specializes in bringing together the flavors of Louisiana with the culinary technique and passion of France. With wife Brandi, who manages front of house, Najolia opened Café Lynn in Mandeville in 2007. Najolia earned his Associates Degree of Applied Science in Culinary Arts from Delgado Community College and has worked in numerous kitchens here and abroad, including as sous chef at the noted Windsor Court Grill Room and as chef de cuisine at the Northshore's acclaimed La Provence.
Keith Frentz and Nealy Crawford-Frentz. Both formerly of Brennan's in New Orleans with degrees from the prestigious Johnson and Wales University, married chefs/partners Nealy and Keith opened Lola Restaurant in 2006 in Covington's historic train depot-Lola's kitchen in a real caboose-where large crowds fill the restaurant for weekly lunch and weekend dinners. Since then they have garnered plenty of attention. In 2009 they were recognized as "Chefs to Watch" from Louisiana Cookin' Magazine--only the second time in its history that married chefs won the award. In 2011 they finished third in the Louisiana Seafood & Marketing Board's Louisiana Seafood Cook-off, going on to claim first place in 2012 and the titles of King & Queen of Louisiana Seafood and representing the state in the Great American Seafood Cook-off. The young chefs won second place in the competition. Nealy also competed in The Food Network's Chopped, nearly winning with her delicious Hummingbird cake-on the menu at Lola.
Nealy and Keith also own and operate the Lola Deux food truck. The big red truck can be seen at Covington farmers market, local concerts and festivals.
Among other notable chefs on the Northshore: Kirk Dunbar of Palmettos on the Bayou in Slidell; Ross Eirich, formerly of Galatoire's in New Orleans and now operating Nathan's Restaurant in Slidell; and Zac Watters of Zachary's Restaurant in Mandeville, selected by Louisiana Cookin' Magazine as a 2012 Top Chef to Watch.
Hungry for more? Watch and listen to a Northshore dining slideshow.