Happy Fat Tuesday from New Orleans Chef Tenney Flynn of GW Fins!

Chef Tenney Flynn and his staff made the best panna cotta I have ever eaten in my life. It haunts my dreams.

Chef Tenney Flynn isn’t a New Orleans native, but after more than 20 years in the Big Easy, he’s not necessarily a tourist either. When he’s not serving up the city’s finest seafood dishes at GW Fins during Mardi Gras, Chef Flynn is watching the action from his French Quarter balcony.

What’s been happening at the restaurant in honor of Mardi Gras?

Well, GW Fins doesn’t regularly open for lunch; we only do lunch a few times a year. But the Friday lunch during Mardi Gras is a very popular party at GW Fins. We had a crazy, crazy lunch. There’s a dance troop called the Pussyfooters, who wear pink corsets and wigs, and they were doing a dance routine. We had the Krewe of the Rolling Elvi here — not on their scooters, though. There was a brass band and scantily clad tequila girls. It’s really fun, and people are already booking for next year. We were completely sold out, with 300 people for lunch! Everybody enjoys the eating, but the entertainment, the party atmosphere, and the drinking, that’s all very important, too!

In general, though, you never know what to expect with the Mardi Gras crowd. We are 60 feet from Bourbon Street. There are lots of people in costume to extremes and anything can happen!

Anything else?

On Saturday afternoon, we did the first ever walking culinary parade — throwing wooden spoons into the crowd. We had two old-style, mule-drawn floats for culinary royalty, which this year are Susan Spicer and John Besh. There are 200 people — and that’s probably every chef in town. It’s called the Krewe of Lafcadio, named for the writer Lafcadio Hearn, who famously said of New Orleans, “But it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.” Really for a lot of us, that’s the way we feel about New Orleans. There’s a lot of reason to not like it, but we like it so much anyway. I think people have very strong reactions to the city. They’re either horrified by it or they say, “This place is really cool and I’d like to live here.’ And I’m definitely one of the latter.

What foods do you associate with Fat Tuesday?

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Diners with Food Allergies Put Chefs to the Test; Bartending Behind Closed Doors in Utah; Memphis Wants to Be the New New Orleans; Ozersky on Food Criticism

Memphis will have a tough time besting New Orleans's rep, thanks to the amazing oysters NOLA is known for!

Dining and restaurant news from around the web…

* Chefs developing allergies to diner allergies. When you’re handed a laminated card, is it time to 86 diners who could die by your hand? [InsideScoop SF]

* Hey! You’ve got to hide your booze away. Utah’s liquor laws make it difficult for restaurant operators to tend bar in plain sight. [USA Today]

* Redemption song. Josh Ozersky has some tips as to how The New York Times can redeem food criticism. [TIME]

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Notes from NOLA: A Jazzy Brunch at the Legendary Commander’s Palace

It’s no secret that brunch at Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans tradition. Actually, any meal at Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans tradition. And the Louisiana Seafood Blog Masters attendees were happy to honor that tradition with a jazzed up meal on a warm Sunday morning. Chef Tory McPhail, who put on a cooking demo at the Louisiana Seafood Festival, and the superb staff, didn’t hit a single sour note! The jazz music was hot, the dishes were decadent (and ENORMOUS!), and the heirloom tomato Bloody Mary was, well, bloody good.