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At Coquette in New Orleans, La., chefs Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus serve their favorite dishes with a “southern twist” in an environment that aims to make all guests — Oprah Winfrey included — feel at home.
“When people walk out of our restaurant, I want them to feel as if they are leaving an extension of their dining room or living room,” Essig told Where Hollywood Eats. “Oprah joined us a while back and no one bothered her at all. I think we’re more of a refuge for them than anything else, and I think that’s a fantastic opportunity. I think everybody just needs a break.”
Essig and Stoltzfus are partners both in business and in life. “I think we both recognize that we complement each other really well,” Stoltzfus said.
Their partnership has helped inspire some of the dishes at Coquette: “He’ll contribute a flavor profile that I hadn’t thought of or a textural component that I had not thought of before, and it ends up being a really layered dish, and that’s how a lot of dishes come through at Coquette,” Essig said.
Coquette prides itself on creating a smaller menu of southern cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced product. “The reason we did the smaller menu is we can constantly change it as we need to and not feel beholden to a certain ingredient,” Stoltzfus said.
But incorporating local products means much more to the chefs of Coquette than just to make a great southern dish. It’s about the relationships they develop with the purveyors day after day.
“Having those kinds of relationships are really important because they’re mostly small families, and we get the ability to interact with them and be a part of their life, which is great,” Stoltzfus said.
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