Golf Fans Enjoying New Orleans Cuisine


AVONDALE, La. -- Joanne Washington of Houston wanted to spend the weekend sampling all the famous restaurants New Orleans has to offer. Her husband wanted to watch the golf tournament.
Each was satisfied.
'This is heaven,' Joanne Washington said as she dug into Galatoire's famous shrimp remoulade. 'We're both happy, but I'm maybe happier.'
The couple was feasting at the Champion's Club at the Zurich Classic. The club, situated along the 18th green of the TPC of Louisiana golf course, allows high rollers to watch professional golfers and professional chefs work.
The club features 10 of New Orleans best restaurants serving their specialties daily during the tournament.
For those shelling out $140 a day for the little blue arm band that allows admittance, there are freshly opened oysters from Acme Oyster House, lobster stuffed with shrimp dressing and covered with crab au gratin from Drago's, soft-shell crab pecan from Brennan's, steak and garlic mashed potatoes from Ruth's Chris Steak House, crawfish cakes from Semolina, pepper jelly spinach salad from Zea's, seared scallops from Mr. B's, to name a few dishes.
'Worth every penny,' said Bob Davis of Miami. 'I came in for the tournament and might not make it to any of the restaurants without this. And what's a trip to New Orleans without trying the food?'
The club, housed in a massive canvas-and steel-beamed structure, was the brainchild of a member of Fore!Kids Foundation, which raises money though the tournament for children's charities.
'He came to me and asked if we could do something like this,' said David Blitch, director of food and beverage for the Hilton Hotel. 'I told him I would get eight of my best friends who are in the restaurant business and we'd do it.'
The restaurants donate the food and their service. Most of the time the owner or manager of the restaurant is on hand.
'Everybody in here loses money and loves it,' said Tommy Cvitanovich of Drago's. 'We're all fierce competitors, but we're also good friends. This is something everyone loves doing.'
The profit goes to a number of charities including Emeril Lagasse's foundation and the Louisiana Restaurant Education Foundation, which has programs in 46 schools statewide. The club has raised more than $50,000 in the last two years.
'We try to serve a signature dish, but also cover each area of the menu,' said Melvin Rodgigue of Galatoire's. 'There are appetizers, main dishes, dessert.'
With the blue wrist band, people can come and go all day.
'This is my Mother's Day gift,' said Margaret Schubert, who was dining with her son, Scott. 'And it's amazing. What a way to spend the day.'
Diners were not shy about chowing down. Galatoire's expected to go through 1,200 pounds of shrimp. 'Stormin' Norman Conerly, who's been shucking oysters at Acme for 26 years, was hard at work on Friday.
'We did six bushels yesterday -- that's 13 dozen per bushel,' he said. 'We'll do twice that on the weekend.'
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