NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) has announced the 2022 Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award will be presented to Louisiana’s legendary chef Frank Brigtsen. The gala celebration will take place on June 7 at 7 p.m. at The Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans kicking off the 30th anniversary of the award-winning wine and food event.
“Chef Frank is more than just passionate about cooking; he is passionate about New Orleans and Louisiana; he is so well-respected by both those in the restaurant industry and the general public that he deserves the unofficial title of ‘the Chef of chefs,’” said Aimee Brown, NOWFE Executive Director. “Chef Frank’s 50-year career has made an indelible mark on the hospitality industry, and we are humbled to bestow the Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award upon Chef.”
Chef Frank and his wife Marna are the owners of Brigtsen’s Restaurant in the Riverbend neighborhood of Uptown, New Orleans. Chef Frank’s culinary career has spanned 50-years, beginning in 1973 while he attended Louisiana State University. He apprenticed at Commander’s Palace Restaurant under the guidance of Chef Paul Prudhomme in 1979. When the restaurant began dinner service one year later, Chef Frank became the first Night Chef at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. During his seven-year tenure with Chef Prudhomme at K-Paul’s, Chef Frank attained the position of Executive Chef. Paul and the late K Prudhomme were instrumental in helping Chef Frank and Marna open Brigtsen’s in 1986.
Chef Frank has received numerous local and national accolades throughout his 50-year career. He was named one of the Top Ten New Chefs in America byFOOD&WINE magazine (1988) and America’s Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation Awards (1998). He was also named Chef of the Year by New Orleans Magazine and Restaurateur of the Year by the Louisiana Restaurant Association – N.O. Chapter. In 2012, Chef Frank received the Lafcadio Hearn Award from the John Folse Culinary Institute and was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Louisiana Restaurant Association. In 2016, Chef Frank received the inaugural Paul Prudhomme Award from the American Culinary Federation. Brigtsen’s Restaurant was voted Top Cajun Restaurant, Top Service, and Top Wine List in the annual Zagat Survey. In 2001, Brigtsen’s received the distinguished Ivy Award from Restaurant & Institutions magazine. In 2016, Brigtsen’s was named one of the Top Ten Restaurants in New Orleans by Brett Anderson, writing for The Times-Picayune newspaper.
Chef Frank’s passion is teaching and sharing through food. For 15 years, he taught public cooking classes at the New Orleans Cooking Experience, sharing his love for America’s greatest regional cuisine. He also teaches Contemporary Creole/Acadian cuisine as Adjunct Professor at the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. He serves as the inaugural Chef-in-Residence for the Culinary Arts program at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA).
The Ella Brennan Award recognizes one individual each year that has made a lifetime commitment to the hospitality industry through extraordinary leadership, personal and professional accomplishments, and philanthropic contributions to the community. The Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award is named for restaurateur legend Ella Brennan. Her deep passion and commitment have made a significant and longstanding impact on the New Orleans hospitality industry. The award’s past recipients include Chef Paul Prudhomme, philanthropist Bill Goldring, Chef Leah Chase, restaurateurs Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, Audubon leader Ron Forman, local restaurateur Ralph Brennan, celebrity chef and philanthropist Emeril Lagasse, tourism industry icon Mark Romig, and Louisiana’s culinary ambassador to the world Chef John Folse. In 2021, NOWFE presented the Ella Brennan “Stand Up for Your Hometown Award” to recipients who exhibited unwavering love and extended an extraordinary response to support the New Orleans community during the pandemic. Those recipients included Al Copeland, Jr., Phil Moseley and Ronnie Evans, Robert Peyton and Troy Gilbert, Zeid and Marv Ammari, Erich and Jennifer Weishaupt, Devin De Wulf, Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski, Jennifer Kelly Killian, Lauren Darnell, Melvin Rodrigue, Zach Strief, Charles Armstrong, and Isaac and Amanda Toups.
Tickets now available at nowfe.com for $150 per person or $1,500 per table of 10. VIP tables for 10 are also available for $2,500, and VIP a la carte tickets are available for $250 which includes entrance to the VIP reception from 6 – 7 p.m. Proceeds from the awards gala benefit the many local non-profit organizations NOWFE supports throughout the year.
Named USA Today’s 10Best for Best General Food Festival and Best Wine Festival, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has showcased the culinary excellence in our community for 30 years alongside national and international wines at wine dinners in many of the city’s finest restaurants; at VINOLA, a premium tasting event; at dozens of culinary labs and experiences; and ultimately at the Grand Tastings. NOWFE is a non-profit organization with proceeds going to causes that support culinary education. It has raised more than $1.5 million for local non-profit organizations. www.nowfe.com.