May 10th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

'Treme' Recap: Celebrity chefs can't outshine New Orleans food

testing captions
testing captions

So chefs Tom Colicchio, Wylie Dufresne, David Chang and Eric Ripert walk into a bar. ...

Is this the beginning of a food awards joke? Nah, it's just the fifth episode of "Treme," when chef Janette DeSautel gets a surprise visit by four New York chefs referred to her struggling fictional restaurant by New Orleans' own "Top Chef Master," John Besh.

"We can't out-New York a bunch of New York chefs – we lowball them," DeSautel tells her sous chef Jacques. "We start with the sweet potato andouille shrimp soup. Then we get the rabbit kidneys out the freezer – they're tiny, they're going to thaw fast. We skewer 'em with some lardons of the Benton's bacon, then we hit 'em with sweetbreads and crawfish over grits."

Naturally, her lowball meal is a success, with Dufresne ID'ing the bacon, Colicchio promising to return the favor of DeSautel's cooking, Chang labeling the fare "awesome" and Ripert offering praise in French.

But don't let four celebrity chefs fool you. This episode was filled with delicious local favorites beginning with cameos by the wax statue of Ernie K-Doe at his Mother-in-Law Lounge, the Upperline restaurant and Slim Goodies Diner on Magazine Street. Beignets returned, crawfish was shucked and sucked, a taco truck appeared, a second-line barbecue occurred and a request for a Sazerac cocktail was sweetly refused.

And then there's the king cake. When a New Orleans police official asks lawyer Toni Bernette how she always manages to get past the desk sergeant, she smiles and says: "I brought a king cake. If you want a slice, you'd better hustle."

King Cake is a staple of New Orleans Carnival celebrations. It starts 12 days after Christmas and lasts through Mardi Gras Day. Locals only eat this ring-shaped cake stuffed with a plastic baby during Carnival season. But it's available from bakeries like Gambino's year-round.

While getting the baby is good luck, it also means the recipient has to buy the next cake.

Here's a guide to the local products and restaurants in episode five of "Treme":

Big Shot Soda New Orleans' Own Big Shot is made by the National Beverage Corp. Albert Lambreaux drinks a strawberry-flavored Big Shot as he and his daughter lunch on po'boys and Zapp's potato chips. Other flavors include cream soda and pineapple.

Ernie K-Doe's Mother-in-Law Lounge Opened by rhythm and blues singer Ernie K-Doe in the 1990s, this bar on North Claiborne Avenue was completely flooded during Hurricane Katrina. Following his death in 2001, the bar's two big draws were K-Doe's widow, Antoinette, who was happy to tell patrons stories about her late husband, and a wax statue of K-Doe. Antoinette died in 2009 on Mardi Gras day.

Slim Goodies Diner This Magazine Street diner opened in September following the storm.

Upperline This uptown restaurant has been a staple since the early 1980s and is known for its Creole cuisine and art collection. Owner JoAnn Clevenger makes an appearance in this episode of "Treme."

Post by:
Filed under: television • Treme

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Bardon

    I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I'm not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are incredible! Thanks!

    March 2, 2011 at 5:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. Erin

    You don't "shuck" crawfish. You PEEL crawfish.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Teri Velazquez

    Although I understand that tastes differ....I cannot understand why this show would fail to grip anyone–it's fantastic! The characters are so understated and......"real".....I've had a lifelong fascination with New Orleans, and have never been there.....but this is what I've always imagined it would be like.....after Katrina, people who live and breathe the and breathing in the city....the Treme....amazing acting....characters I wish I could meet in real life....I can't say enough about this production rocks!!!

    May 13, 2010 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lee

    Sitting here now sipping Community Coffee Dark Roast and feeling nostalgic for NO.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rosemarie Davis

    In regards to Tresme the real stories are not being told especially what is not being done down in the lower 9th Ward and the awful violence and killings that happen there every day the only thing that is being focus on is Food and Jazz and the misconcepion that people are parting in the streets all day everyday. the show make it seem as if tons of people are trying to get back to New Orleans some do want to get back but a lot of people have moved on with their lives and are not looking back at New Orleans but have found better lives else where so HBO be real with this series.

    May 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gerry White

    Hey, where y'at? The article above states that Slim Goodie's opened after Katrina. In fact is was open before Katrina for about a couple of years. After Katrina, however, Slim made the news for cooking on the sidewalk on a propane stove and giving food to police officers. This act of love even made the newspaper in tiny Dixon, Illinois, where we had evacuated to my son's house. . . . .and enough, already, with this N'AWLINS stuff! I was born here in 1940, lived here all but one year of my life, was not raised in the Garden District so I am not an aristocrat, and I had NEVER heard N'AWLINS until some 20 years ago by people who didn't get the pronunciation right. Get it– it's pronounced "New Orlins" or "New Awlins" or, best of all, "Noo Awlins". See ya later, Alligator.

    May 12, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. Duan

    2PACOLYPSENOW – when you said comparing it to the wire, someone would be sadly disappointed?

    I have to disagree. The Wire brokedown the culture, crime and vibe of Baltimore.

    Treme does that as well for New Orleans.

    I guess I understand the show because of the relationship Mississippi and New Orleans has, but if you are watching with open eyes, then you will get the whole picture.

    The creators of the show, are showing people the relationships between the Bourgeois blacks or Creoles with dark skin blacks, the corruption of the police department, how people just up and went missing from the prisons, how far that NOLA jazz reaches people, how important the Second Line is, what the Crewes mean to neighborhoods – the underlying stories are there – it's just up to people to not be lazy in the brain, but they need to watch the show with a real curioisity and it will open your eyes to whole nother world.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |

    After struggling initially to follow this show it's taken me about 4 episodes for it to hold my attention. For the most part it's a good show but the fact that we aren't from NawLins, some of the culture of the city was hard to pick up on initially. The bad part about is that with the exception of John Goodman's, Wendell Pierce and Khandi Alexanders characters, these characters offer nothing in terms of really caring about them. Maybe it's the acting itself. However, I will finish it out to the end and make my assessment afterwards. I can now understand why some outside of Maryland had a hard time following The Wire, which was based in Baltimore. Treme' being set in Nawlins and being about Nawlins after Katrina may take some a while to pick up on the whole vibe but so far it's not bad. If you are comparing this to The Wire, you'll be sadly disappointed. But if you are comparing this as a stand alone series on it's own merits then it's off to a decent start.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LT

    I love this city. The show is spot-on. Went down their several years ago, pre-Katrina with and old highschool two middle -aged ladies enjoying.. the music at the Jazz Festival as well the history of the area. Where else could find Napoleon's death mask and the pirate, Lafitte's house ....the only thing I had trouble with was the crawfish...they reminded me of large waterbugs occasionaly found in New York City apts...still makes to shudder when I watched people eating them. I guess it's an acquired taste.

    May 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Duan

    living in Jackson, Mississippi – New Orleans is our sister city, so Jacksonians, usually run to NOLA for entertainment, it's only 2 hours away.

    The show is on point, right down to the local lingo – "Say bruh!?" – "Hmmm bruh!?" – "Yes Indeed!" – lol!!!!

    I was a fan of the Wire, so I knew Treme was going to be a good show! I look forward to Sunday evenings myself because of this show

    May 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Johnny O.

    Can't get into this show. I don't care about any of the characters.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. Susanth

    This show has hooked me. The attention to detail is fantastic.

    May 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lee Davis

    This is a terrific show! I can't wait for Sunday nights each week. Seeing it filmed on location, with actual New Orleans residents, activities, locales,the food and restuarant exposure, the great music and musicians creates a clear vivid picture in mind of the greatness of this city. Though I've never been there I am completely drawn to all its glory. As it is shown cast in the memories of the devastation of Katrina, you are filled with hopes and power the people of that have to excel and build and even greater future. My hat is off toHBO

    May 10, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jiminy Cricket

    I absolutely love this show. Treme captures the very essence of NOLA. I believe all the characters in the show along with the real New Orleanians. I look forward to every Sunday when Treme comes on. It is just a fun show to watch even though Katrina is a overshawdowing giant I have a huge respect for the people who lived, loved and laughed before, during, and after the hurricane. I highly recommend watching this show.

    May 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

About this blog

Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.