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My New Orleans: 20 Questions with David Slater

“I grew up in Toronto,” Chef David Slater told me as we sat across from each other sipping drinks at Emeril’s. “It’s a very cosmopolitan city, so when I was a kid, I got to eat fantastic Greek, Italian, and East Indian food.” Chef David’s worldly palate along with local ingredients and the history of New Orleans inspires his current cooking style.

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Emeril’s Chef de Cuisine, David Slater

Chef David didn’t always know he wanted to be a chef. “I was a Mass Communications and Psychology major in college before going on to business school,” he said. “But eventually I realized it wasn’t for me, so I dropped out and enrolled at the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach.”

Shortly after graduating, Chef David moved to New Orleans to work under Rene Bajeux at the Windsor Court Hotel. Two years later, he was offered a job at Emeril’s in Universal Studios before helping to open Emeril’s in Atlanta in 2003. He was thrilled when he got the chance to come back to New Orleans in 2005. Chef David has been the Chef de Cuisine at Emeril’s New Orleans for six years now.

I asked Chef David what he thinks Emeril’s does best. “We have a really good hand with seafood,” he said. “Our Barbecue Shrimp are classic and not-to-be-missed, but I am partial to the Sizzling Sea Scallops.” He added that the Banana Cream Pie is usually a favorite when it comes to dessert.

Chef David urges visitors and GoNOLA readers to visit Emeril’s before the end of August. “Right now, we are offering a $48 five-course tasting menu every evening,” he said. You better believe I’ll be paying Chef David a visit!

Emeril’s New Orleans
Where it all started – Emeril Lagasse’s original flagship restaurant in the Warehouse District! Opened in 1990, this is where Chef Emeril created many of his classic dishes, including the New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp, Banana Cream Pie and more.
Lunch: Monday – Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dinner: Nightly, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
800 Tchoupitoulas Street, 504-528-9393

20 Questions with Chef David Slater

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Emeril’s Exterior

1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?

Leah Chase – she’s inspirational.

2. What first brought you to New Orleans? 

I first came to New Orleans 12 years ago to take a job working for Rene Bajeux at the Windsor Court Hotel. He’s now my neighbor and valued mentor.

3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?

I live in the Bywater, so I have to admit I’m a bit biased. It’s peaceful, relaxing and bohemian.

4. City Park or Audubon Park?

City Park – there is just so much space!

5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans?

Whenever my friend, Chef Alon Shaya of Domenica, cooks at his house! For a meal out, I hit Tan Dinh.

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Fettuccine “Nero”

6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?

Atchafalaya – I always order the Eggs Atchafalya. It’s basically Eggs Benedict with the addition of lump crab meat and fried green tomato. Can’t go wrong with that!

7. What’s your favorite po-boy?  Where do you go to get it?

I get the roast beef po-boy from Parkway Bakery & Tavern or the fried shrimp from Mandina’s.

8. You’ve got friends visiting and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?

For obvious reasons, I focus on restaurants. I’ll take friends to Mandina’s for lunch and Clancy’s or Bayona for dinner.

9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?

I like Mimi’s and Markey’s Bar. Recently, I’ve been really enjoying the new upstairs area at Bacchanal – the food is terrific there, too!

10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail and where do you go to get it?

I like a Ramos Gin Fizz – the best I’ve had is at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel.

11. Snowball or Daiquiri? What flavor? 

Homemade Andouille and Boudin Sausages

Homemade Andouille and Boudin Sausages

Pina Colada daiquiri.

12. Best spot to see live music?

Three Muses, The Maple Leaf, Tipitina’s.

13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?

I have my classic favorites like Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield, but I also love the street musicians on Royal Street, especially Tonya and Dorise. They usually play near the intersection of Royal and St. Peter streets.

14. Favorite New Orleans Festival?

Jazz Fest – you can really just lose yourself there.

15. Favorite Mardi Gras parade?

Krewe du Vieux.

16. Where do you shop in New Orleans?

Rubenstein’s for clothes. Rouses, Stein’s, and Hong Kong Market for food. I get my wine at Bacchanal.

Chef David in the kitchen

Chef David in the kitchen

17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?

NOMA – what a beautiful setting!

18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?

Usually I’m working so I’ll watch it here on TV at Emeril’s. But whenever I get the chance, I’m in the Superdome!

19. Describe New Orleans in one word.

Magical.

20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans and why?

I was flying home from Amsterdam, of all places! I looked out the window as we hovered over New Orleans and I realized there was no place I’d rather be.

* Photos courtesy of Emeril’s Restaurant