John Besh on Oysters, Tujague’s, and Johnny Sanchez

The New Orleans chef presided over the New York Wine & Food Festival’s Oyster Bash
Dan Myers

Chef John Besh chatted up the crowd during the New York Wine & Food Festival’s Oyster Bash.

John Besh is one of the most legendary chefs cooking in New Orleans now. His restaurants, which include August, Luke, and Domenica, are consistently ranked among the city’s finest, and he’s constantly planning his next adventure. On Sunday, Oct. 20, Besh was the marquee name at the New York Wine & Food Festival’s Oyster Bash, where about 20 different chefs presented their spin on the nobly bivalve, and we chatted with him about what makes oysters so popular, his newest project, and the start of the New Orleans restaurant he’s been looking for a way to save, Tujague’s.

"Oysters are almost like the perfect food," Besh told us. "You can do as little to it or as much to it as you want. It’s briny, you can add sweet, or sour, and it’ll be the perfect mouthful."

His newest cookbook, Cooking From the Heart, will be released next week, and he’s been working with Aarón Sánchez on their joint project, to be called Johnny Sanchez, which will be opening in Baltimore’s Caesars Palace. "It’ll be a farm-to-table tacos and tequila approach," he told us. "All our foods will be sourced locally, there will be a great bar, and we’ll be contributing to charity through it. It’s a great way to combine forces."

Fans of the New Orleans institution Tujague’s, which has been on the rocks, will also be interested to hear that it looks like Besh is no longer involved with trying to purchase the restaurant, as "the family is trying to reconcile," he said. The restaurant reopened in August after some family squabbling, and appears to be back on track.


"That’s what makes New Orleans so special," Besh added. "There’s a 100-year-old restaurant on every block. It really gives you a sense of humility."