Walk-On’s owners, general manager receive honors

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Greater Baton Rouge Chapter named Last in Concepts owners Brandon Landry and Jack Warner as its Restaurateurs of the Year.

Chapter President Peter Sclafani III, of Ruffino’s Restaurant, presented the pair their award during a program Jan. 21 at Juban’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge, a news release said.

Landry and Warner own several establishments, including Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, the Roux House, Happy’s Irish Pub, Schlittz & Giggles and Walk-On’s Catering. The two have expanded these concepts in Louisiana, primarily in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

“We are proud that their first concept, Walk-On’s, started here in Baton Rouge,” Sclafani said. “To see the expansion of their company to now 11 restaurants employing upwards of 1,000 people is a testament to the success and opportunities that exists in the restaurant industry.”

Ryan Nizzo, general manager of Walk-On’s in Baton Rouge, was recognized as the chapter’s Active Member of the Year. The award goes to an individual in the food service industry who is involved in chapter affairs, events and meetings, and encourages his peers to join the association and become active. Nizzo served as chapter president for two years.

“Ryan has served our chapter diligently and has shown amazing dedication and leadership,” Sclafani said. “He really focused on member engagement and growing the success of our fundraisers benefiting the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation and its ProStart programs.”

Billy Long, vice president of Crescent Crown Distributing, was selected as the chapter’s Associate Member of the Year. This award recognizes an associate member who volunteers time and talents in service to the chapter and its activities and fundraisers.

“Billy has been a steadfast supporter of the restaurant industry and our chapter,” Sclafani said. “His dependability and commitment to helping restaurateurs succeed in their businesses is a great example for our membership.”

The Grill Room sommelier

John Mitchell has been hired as sommelier and director of outlets at The Grill Room at Windsor Court in New Orleans.

“An award-winning sommelier, Mitchell brings with him an extensive knowledge of wine, years of experience and a passion for French and Creole cultures,” a news release said.

The East Coast native’s relationship with Windsor Court began in 2008 when he worked for the Orient Express Co. which relocated him to New Orleans. He was part of the team who helped The Grill Room develop a revamped wine program after Hurricane Katrina.

“We are delighted to have John back on the Windsor Court team,” said Skip Adams, Windsor Court food and beverage director. “His familiarity with The Grill Room and his passion for delivering excellent and memorable dining experiences will further elevate our food and beverage offerings.”

As sommelier and director of outlets, Mitchell will oversee The Grill Room, Polo Club Lounge, Cocktail Bar, Suite Service and events. He will also work closely with Executive Chef Vlad Ahmadyarov and Chef de Cuisine Daniel Causgrove to develop pairings for dinner and chef’s tasting menus, the release said.

In January 2007, Mitchell received his sommelier certificate through the Court of Master Sommelier.

Most recently, Mitchell was the wine director at Stella! where his team was awarded the Distinguished Restaurants of North America award four years in a row.

During his tenure, Stella! was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wine Restaurants in the U.S. Mitchell was also named Star Chefs’ Rising Sommelier in 2012.

Kid ambassador

Eliana de Las Casas, the award-winning 13-year-old chef and author from Harvey better known as Kid Chef Eliana, has been named the Kids Ambassador of SoFAB in New Orleans.

In that capacity, she will represent the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, the SoFAB Culinary Library and Archive as well as the other divisions of the SoFAB Institute to help the message of sustainability, healthful cooking and eating, and whole person literacy (including nutritional and reading literacy), said Liz Williams, president of the SoFAB Institute.

The SoFAB Culinary Library and Archive at 1609 Oretha C. Haley Blvd., New Orleans, has a goal of amassing the largest collection of children’s culinary literature in the country, Williams said.

The young chef is a recent Taste Award honoree, a recipient of an award for Special Achievement in the Outstanding Kids category for her role as host of “Cool Kids Cook,” her weekly web radio show on the VoiceAmerica Kids network. The Taste Awards are the highest awards for the Lifestyle Entertainment Industry. Also known as the Tasty Awards, they are the premier broadcast awards show celebrating the year’s best achievements in food, fashion, home, and lifestyle programs in television, film, online and radio. She accepted her award at a red carpet event at Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood on Jan.16.

Her cookbook “Cool Kids Cook: Louisiana” (Pelican Publishing) won a 2013 Parents’ Choice Approved Award from the Parents’ Choice Foundation. Her third cookbook, “Cool Kids Cook: Fresh & Fit” (Pelican Publishing) will debut this month.