After Hurricane Ida seized power in New Orleans in its devastation across the state and country, restaurants in the area were left without refrigeration and plenty of food on hand. Many put it to good use by distributing meals or simply offering mass groceries to those in need.
Some restaurants have donated their food to relief efforts such as World Central Kitchen, celebrity chef Jose Andres’ mobile relief effort. Coordinating with Culture Aid NOLA at the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute on Howard Avenue, they shipped meals from there to distribution points in the city and outlying parishes.
Former Gambit editor-in-chief Kevin Allman, from his home in Southern California, has noticed the efforts. In addition to sharing information to help hungry residents find food, he created an online map, so people can remember and support restaurants that have been generous in times of need. He dubbed the effort “Map of Restaurant Excellence” or MRE.
The restaurant map of the region is below, as well as an alphabetical list by region. Allman keeps updating the map, which you can find in line.
MRE Q&A with Kevin Allman
Kevin Allman spoke with Gambit about his MRE.
Gambit: What prompted you to compile the map and the location list?
Kevin Allman: Like so many people, I followed Hurricane Ida and its immediate aftermath by browsing social media. One of the few bright spots was seeing chef Jose Andres and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen were in New Orleans before the storm hit, cooking free meals for what was to come.
Then I saw a few restaurants doing the same – either cooking food for the neighbors, for free, or donating their stocks. Someone wrote: “Hope someone made a list of all these places that are so generous.” There’s not much I can do in California, but I was like, “I can do a Google map, so when things get back to normal these days, people can visit these places and pay back.”
Gambit: How did you find places and what types of things did you include? Free cooked meals, food gifts, non-food gifts?
All the men: Well, first of all, if a place was cooking and charging for food – that’s fine, no shade. Times are tough and tight. But I wanted to point out the places that said “Come have a meal” or “We have these ingredients if you want them. The meal part was important because, besides kindness, it offered people a place to gather and compassion, to have a heartwarming food ritual that was unlike the MRE situation after Hurricane Katrina and the sea wall failures. federal.
I got most of my information from social media, text messages, and emails. Some of the things I encountered I couldn’t include because they were temporary, but they were beautiful. Neighbors set up a “free store” on card tables with canned goods, diapers and the like. A woman had set up a massage table on the sidewalk to relieve her neighbors for a few minutes. The people who got the power installed extension cords up to their front fences, offering free phone charges. Musicians who make the sound of the city, as always. Even in such a miserable time, it seemed like everyone was trying to think of how to help their neighbors.
Gambit: Have you had any feedback from chefs, restaurateurs and service professionals?
All the men: Not yet. I guess they’re all pretty busy! But I will continue to add to the map as I get more information. I would really like to know more about the restaurants in Westbank, Jefferson Parish and Northshore that fed people.
The weeks after Katrina and the Dike Failures were so desperate – I think this time around, the people of New Orleans were collectively ready to do something worthwhile.
This is what I wanted to record for Better Times – a restaurant guide based on generosity.
Map of excellence in catering
Compiled by Kevin Allman
After Hurricane Ida passed, these restaurants cooked for free for their neighbors or distributed the contents of their pantries, refrigerators and freezers. When things get back to normal in the future, please support these generous places that were already suffering from the pandemic.
MRE restaurants by district
Bayou Whiskey from Pirogue
Waterfront / Marigny
Horn’s Eatery (catering offered)
The best of sundae
CBD / warehouse district
Barcadia New Orleans
Empire State Delicatessen
The howling wolf
La Boca Steakhouse
Poeyfarre street market in Nesbit
Singleton mini market
Willie’s Chicken Shack
World Central Kitchen in NOCHI
Carrollton / Riverben
Live Oak Cafe
Louisiana Pizza Kitchen
Latitude 29 from Beachbum Berry
Palm & Pine
Thai restaurant with banana blossom
Island Paradise Grill Restaurant
Indian cuisine from Punjabi Dhaba
Junior on Harrison
Moe’s Original BBQ – Métairie
Downtown / Treme
Backatown Coffee Lounge
Bevi Seafood Co.
Blue Oak barbecue
Mexican Felipe Taqueria
HEY Coffee Co.
Juan’s Flying Burrito
Trilly cheese cookies
New Orleans East
VEGGI farmers’ cooperative
The crest of the river
Rosemary & Roux Café & Caterer
The courtyard brewery
Taqueria Del Fuego
El Pavo Real
Juan’s Flying Burrito
M. Tequila bar and grill
Slim Goodies Dinner
Surrey Cafe and Juice Bar