Local chef happy with ‘Chopped’ experience

Chef Jeremy Langlois of Houmas House Plantation
Chef Jeremy Langlois of Houmas House Plantation

Chef Jeremy Langlois was knocked off in the second of the three rounds of the Dec. 11 episode of the Food Network show “Chopped,” but he says it was a fun experience he doesn’t regret.

“I just didn’t want to be the first to go” from the episode titled “Thirst for Victory,” said the executive chef at Latil’s Landing Restaurant at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in Burnside. “I was the only Louisiana chef against three New Yorkers.”

“The show was filmed in New York City on April 4, but I couldn’t say anything until after the show,” Langlois said. “I was surprised I was able to keep it quiet” for eight months.

Langlois, 28, said he was familiar with the show “but thought it was like ‘Top Chef.’ First, they intentionally try to come up with crazy ingredients.”

For example, he explained, in the first round, the four chefs had to make an appetizer using crabmeat, pickled ginger, turnips and a package of ice cream cones.

“Some people made a crab cake,” but Langlois prepared a salad with a crabmeat remoulade dressed with pickled ginger and fresh herbs.

“I puré ed the cones and put the ice cream cone down first, like a crouton element,” he said. “I blanched the turnips, peeled and diced them, tossed in little extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Then, I put the crabmeat mixture in and made a quick vinaigrette for baby arugula.”

Langlois was so pleased with the salad he put it on the Houmas House restaurant’s menu as a weekend special on Dec. 15-16.

“One of the judges thought it was the strongest of all the dishes in that round,” Langlois said.

He was chopped in the next round which had ingredients of “city chicken, a sports drink which was like a bright red Gatorade, canned peaches and fresh mustard greens,” Langlois said. “City chicken apparently is cubed pork shoulder on a kabab stick and became popular in the 1930s Depression when there was a shortage of chicken. It was supposed to be one of the gotcha items, but I noticed right off the bat it wasn’t chicken.”

Langlois made a takeoff of grits and grillades.

“I took the pork off the kabob, dusted it and seared it in a skillet and made a basic grillade gravy,” he said. “I put the sports drink and peaches in a blender and puré ed them to use as a component on the plate.

“The show’s pantry didn’t have grits so I made a polenta with cornmeal, and put hot oil on the stove and flash-fried the mustard greens for 30 seconds. The judges complimented me on that component, but the big knock was they said my pork was overcooked. The other chefs cooked the pork to medium. Also the judges didn’t like the use of the sports drink.”

Langlois said he believes the television show “Top Chef” is a better test of a chef than “Chopped.”

“I would never cook with a sports drink or ice cream cone in real life. It’s a fun thing, but not a real test of a chef’s ability. I approached it as fun and a good experience,” said Langlois, whose wife, Theresa, accompanied him to New York City for the filming.

A graduate of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University, Langlois cooks in a style he calls “Nouvelle Louisiane.”

His next culinary adventure will be as a guest chef aboard Holland America’s Zuiderdam during a seven-day culinary adventure cruise through Alaska, departing June 22 from Vancouver, Canada.

He was selected by Holland America Cruise Line’s Culinary Arts Council.

“I will do four cooking demos and a couple of different food events” during the cruise, Langlois said. He was asked to go on a 14-day cruise, but he said he couldn’t be away that long.

A new restaurant is in the works at Houmas House, he said. Called the Carriage House, it will be attached to the Turtle Bar and is expected to open in late February or early March. It will provide breakfast for overnight cottage guests, offer teas in the afternoon and casual bar food in the evening.

Latil’s Landing, the fine dining restaurant on the Houmas House property, is open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and Café Burnside is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. seven days a week.

Sunday brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Le Petite Houmas Restaurant in the Pavillion Ballroom. Langlois said the restaurant staff also handles numerous parties and about 70 weddings a year.

In addition to Langlois, the kitchen staff includes sous chefs Bryan Duck and Christopher Foster plus six or seven cooks.

Event set to benefit
BR Epicurean Society

Juban’s Restaurant is teaming up with Calandro’s Select Cellars Fine Wine Room for a premium wine tasting and sale event that will benefit the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, according to Scott Callais, Juban’s general manager.

The event will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 30 at Juban’s, 3739 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge. Cost is $125 per person and is limited to 25 guests. It will feature such wines as 2001 Chappellet Prichard Hill, 1999 Diamond Creek’s single vineyards series, 2005 Peter Michael Les Pavots, 2006 Stag’s Leap Cellars’ single vineyard series and 2005 Shafer Hillside Select.

The wines will be complemented by cheeses and charcuterie by Juban’s.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the nonprofit Epicurean Society, which supports children’s health programs, culinary scholarship funding, Pro Start, 4-H Leadership Camp, the Boys & Girls Club and juvenile diabetes, Callais said.

For reservations, call Meghann Young at Juban’s at (225) 346-8422.