with Chef Jacques Leonardi
from Jacques-Imo's Café
at L.C. Ampang, September 2005
New Orleans and Cross-Culture-Cuisine
"Where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico, an array of cultures comes together to create New Orleans, a festive port town where boisterous music and fresh, savory seafood are synonymous with good times," claims Andrew Jaeger & John DeMers.
New Orleans also known as "The Big Easy" is known for it's Mardi Gras parades, parties and for it's Lenten seafood feasts. Music, Cuisine & Parties are a common scene. The three B's are common in the French Quarter, ultimately Bourbon Street. For those who are unfamiliar, it means Beads, Beers & B..bs.
Having said that, New Orleans is also a Melting Pot of Cross-Culture-Cuisine ranging from Africa, the Caribbean, Spain, France, Italy, Germany & pre-colonial America. The term "Cajun and Creole" often confuses one.
Cajuns (shortened from "Acadian") were mostly brought to Canada from France but expelled in the mid-1700's by the Brits while Creole was used to represent a newborn native to the soil, a Lousiana-born descendant of continental French or Spanish parents.
At Las Carretas Mexican Restaurant & Bar, two weeks in september 2005, we have tried to capture elements of the "The Big Easy" and with Guest Chef Jacque Leonardi who proudly owns Jacques Imo's Café in New Orleans on .............
Lousiana Crab Cakes
Available in almost all Restaurants in New Orleans. At Las Carretas, we mix it with Snow Fish to give it a better texture & laced with Roasted Pepper Aioli & Guacamole on the side!
Oysters Marie Laveux
Named after the Voo-Doo Queen of Bourbon Street! 4 Pieces of Oysters Tossed with Garlic, Parsley & Finished with Flambéed Pernod. Served over Toasted Garlic French Bread
Louisiana Seafood Gumbo
A Local Classic made of Seafood, Smoked Chicken Sausages (Substitute for Andouille for Halal reasons), Oyster, Fish Fillets, Shrimps, Mussels, & Holy Trinity Served over Buttered Rice
Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya
A similar version of Spanish Paella. Originated from Spain & name was derived from African natives calling it "jambon a la yaya." A harmony of Smoked Chicken Sausages flavored with Capsicums, Mushrooms & Boiled together with Rice
A Cajun Dish in General! Braised in Vegetables & Hinted with Tabasco Chipotle.
Accompanied with Buttered White Rice "A Must Try!"
Charbroiled Cajun Rib-Eye
A Famous Rub consisting of assorted ground peppers & Mustard Served with Baked Potato & Mixed Salad
Tequila & Lime Marinated Chicken
Since Louisiana is a Melting Pot of Cuisine & Culture, we thought it might be Cool to add in some Mexican Flavors! Served with Buttered Rice & Sautéed Legumes
Tournedos Bayou Lafourche
A Favorite among the South Louisianans named after the famous "Bayous" Lightly seasoned & Charbroiled to your liking & Accompanied with Steak Fries & Mixed Salad
Blackened Fillet of Snow Fish in Cajun Butter
A Technique used to deliver a Blast of Louisiana Flavors! Served charred with Buttered Rice, Lemon Wedge & Hydro phonically grown Lettuce
Key Lime Pie
Served Cold with a dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream
Serve straight out from a slosh machine! A combination of Dark Rum, Passion Fruits Juice & Lemon Juice "If you are planning to go to New Orleans, Pat O'Briens at Bourbon Street is a must go for their Hurricanes"
All the way from USA.
Bourbon Whisky Served Straight-up, On the Rocks or with Coke
Jacques Leonardi from Jacques-Imo's Cafe
Raised on a farm in upstate New York by a French mother and Italian father, Jacques was exposed as a child to both styles of cuisine and the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients. He has had an instinctive appreciation for food for as long as he can remember.
Yet his culinary career started very different than most. In 1980 he enrolled in the Coastguard Academy and graduated in 1984 with a Masters of Science degree. After he received his commission as an ensign he landed a job as a law enforcement officer throughout the Caribbean and southern United States. Jacques was eventually stationed in New Orleans working on marine pollution clean up when he fell in love with the music, culture and most significantly the food of this unique city. On his nights off he would use his earnings to sample the many tastes of different local restaurants: Blackened Redfish at K-Paul's, Oyster Rockefeller at Antoine's, Turtle soup at Commanders Palace and Fried Chicken at Chez Helene.
In 1990 Jacques decided to dive right in. He secretly took a job at night in the kitchen of legend Paul Prudhomme's K-Paul's while he was commissioned in the coastguard. Working as a humble prep cook he worked hard to learn the mysteries of real Louisiana food in a real working kitchen. This is where he learned the basics of food preparation and founded his appreciation for quality ingredients and the importance of consistency.
With $8,000 in his pocket, Jacques left K-Paul's to try his own hand at "Real Nawlin's Food". Stepping away from the tourist driven French quarter, he opened "Jacques-Imo's Café" in 1996 in an old shotgun house in the Carrollton section of the Garden District.
Jacques-Imo's menu features Creole-Soul cuisine that captures all the spirit and spice of New Orleans. Its innovative yet un-stuffy approach to classic recipes has been Jacques-Imo's most admired contribution to the highly competitive and prestigious world of New Orleans' cuisine. It has brought back to life the old classics like Chicken Pontalba with béarnaise sauce, a deep-fried roast-beef Po-Boy or the gourmet Fried Chicken cooked by none-other than New Orleans own Soul-food legend Austin Leslie from the illustrious Chez Helene restaurant. Yet it has been Jacques' own creations like the delicious Shrimp & Alligator Sausage Cheesecake (recently featured on the Food Network) and Grilled Mahi Mahi with a sweet pistachio reduction that brings huge numbers to this cozy and funky restaurant and solidified Jacques' status as an unforgettable New Orleans' fixtur
Victor Siow Proprietor Las Carretas Mexican Restaurant & Bar
Having done his Food & Beverage Diploma in International College of Hotel Management in 1984, he stayed back for in search of Culinary Expertise & naturally to master the French Language.
Montreaux Palace Hotel, Euro Hotel, Restaurant Du Parc were some of his training ground. Cuisine involved was extremely fine & has worked with numerous 2 to 3 Michelin Chefs. He left Montreaux in 1988 & headed to Amsterdam where he stayed on with Victoria Hotel till 1990 & pursued his Degree in Hotel & Restaurant in New Hampshire College, USA. Having graduated in summer 1992, he worked with Marriott Boston Bay for 8 months before re-locating back to Holland.
This time he landed with Gauchos which owns over 150 Argentinean restaurants throughout Europe. He led a team of Chefs and further opens another 6 outlets under his leadership. It then came to a point of time when he decided to move back to his roots with an objective of opening up a neighborhood dinner. Came summer of 1993, he moved back to Malaysia & was quickly employed by Crown Princess Hotel as a Sous Chef. In less than 7 months, he was head-hunted to open & lead a Fine Dining restaurant at the brand new Legend Hotel.
During his service of 31/2 years, he has managed to infuse "Fine Health Cuisine" into the minds of our local community. Things changed when he decided to pursue for his dreams & in July 1996, he founded Las Carretas Mexican Restaurant & Bar which is located in Taipan, Subang. 5 Years later, he opened his second restaurant which is located at Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
Some of his specialties included Wine & Food Pairing Dinners, Degustation Menus besides having a different Promotion every month in his restaurants.
Through these years, he is known as "Mr. Mexican" within the Food & Beverage Industry & has managed to maintain a steady growth in both of his restaurants with his "Style & Leadership."