For nearly two years, John Folse and Rick Tramonto have been working on R’evolution, a restaurant slated to open in New Orleans’ French Quarter this April, right before the April 27–May 6 Jazz & Heritage Festival, in what will likely be one of the major fine-dining restaurant openings of 2012.
The restaurant, now under construction in the Royal Sonesta Hotel, is intended as an homage to the city’s traditional Creole cuisine, expressed in a modern context.
Folse operates a number of boutique food operations, including cheese making, through his Chef John Folse & Co. in Gonzales, La. He met Tramonto, who grew up in New York and has spent most of his chef career in Chicago, at a cheese dinner at Tru restaurant, where Tramonto was executive chef from 1999 to 2010. Their friendship grew in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when Tramonto went to Louisiana to help cook for FEMA workers and others in need.
The restaurant will have 180 seats, plus 50 at the bar, and have a 10,000-bottle wine cellar. Chris Lusk, most recently executive chef of Café Adelaide, a Brennan family restaurant also in New Orleans, will be chef de cuisine.
The restaurant was designed by The Johnson Studio of Atlanta, which also designed Tru.
Nation’s Restaurant News recently spoke with Folse and Tramonto about their plans for the new restaurant.
What’s your vision for this restaurant?
Tramonto: We’re going back into the history of those dishes and looking at them again through a fresh set of eyes. I’m learning from John about the nuances of a roux, of turtle soup, learning from the ground up and then refiltering them through my own perspective.
Folse: New Orleans cuisine evolved from Native American, French, Spanish, German, African, English and Italian cuisines. As those different cultures arrived, they all adapted to what was there. Paella became jambalaya, bouillabaisse became gumbo. That evolution is continuing with new emerging cultures here, like the Vietnamese and other Asians.
We’re doing the same thing — reexamining local herbs and spices, such as sassafras. What made this cuisine exciting in the first place was the evolution as new cooks arrived.