Chef John Folse
Chef John Folse, CEC, AAC Chef and Author, is the owner and executive chef of his Louisiana-based corporations. Lafitte's Landing Restaurant in Donaldsonville is recognized as one of the finest restaurants in and around New Orleans. White Oak Plantation in Baton Rouge houses his catering and events management company. Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing, the only chef-owned and -operated manufacturing company, produces soups, sauces, entrees and specialty items for chain restaurants, foodservice and retail establishments across the country. Folse has authored numerous books available in bookstores nationally. He hosts his own National television cooking show, "A Taste of Louisiana" on PBS, and his syndicated radio show, "Stirrin' It Up!" can be heard worldwide.
My first day on the job, I was asked to deep fry some beautiful pre-breaded scallops for the General Manager's lunch. I had no idea that the chef and sous chef had taken round pieces of butter and rolled them in bread crumbs and placed them in the refrigerator. When the GM sat down they yelled, "Hey John, first big job.....impress the GM fry those scallops in a hurry!" Imagine the outcome when the scallops hit the hot oil only to disappear in front of my eyes. [expletive]! By: John Folse
Chef John Folse, born in St. James Parish in 1946, learned early that the secrets of Cajun cooking lay in the unique ingredients of Louisiana's swamp floor pantry. Folse seasoned these raw ingredients with his passion for Louisiana culture and cuisine, and from his cast iron pots emerged Chef John Folse & Company.
When Folse opened Lafitte's Landing Restaurant in 1978 in Donaldsonville, he set out to market his restaurant by taking "a taste of Louisiana" worldwide. He introduced Louisiana's indigenous cuisine to Japan in 1985, Beijing in 1986 and Hong Kong and Paris in 1987. In 1988, Folse made international headlines with the opening of "Lafitte's Landing East" in Moscow during the Presidential Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1989, Folse was the first non-Italian chef to create the Vatican State Dinner in Rome. Promotional restaurants also included London in 1991 and 1993, Bogota in 1991, Taipei in 1992 and 1994 and Seoul in 1994. In 1988, the Louisiana Sales and Marketing Executives named Folse "Louisiana's Marketing Ambassador to the World" and the Louisiana Legislature gave him the title of "Louisiana's Culinary Ambassador to the World."
The international success of Folse's cornerstone property, Lafitte's Landing Restaurant, spawned the incorporation of several other Chef John Folse & Company properties. White Oak Plantation in 1986 established Folse's catering and events management division. Chef John Folse & Company Publishing, since 1989, has produced seven cookbooks in his Cajun and Creole series, plus a novel, two children's books and a religious memoir by other authors. "A Taste of Louisiana" is Folse's international television series produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting since 1990. Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing, since 1991, is one of the few chef-owned food manufacturing companies in America producing custom manufactured foods for the retail and food service industry. In January 2005 a new USDA manufacturing plant opened in Donaldsonville.
The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA, opened in October 1994 and is dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana's rich culinary and cultural heritage. In August 1996, Folse began broadcasting his radio cooking talk show, "Stirrin' It Up." In 2001, "Stirrin' It Up" expanded to a television cooking segment during the 5 p.m. newscast on WAFB-TV Channel 9 in Baton Rouge.
Exceptional Endings, the pastry division, was launched in 1996 to create specialty desserts, pastries and savories. In October 1998, a fire destroyed the 200-year-old Viala Plantation, which housed Lafitte's Landing Restaurant, and in May 1999 Folse opened his former Donaldsonville home as Lafitte's Landing Restaurant at Bittersweet Plantation offering fine dining and bed and breakfast accommodations. In the year 2000, Folse incorporated Digi-Tek Productions, a full service digital recording studio. Expanding on the catering services of White Oak Plantation, Chef John FOLSEvents Management & Catering fulfills the special events needs of clients both regionally and nationally. In 2002, Bittersweet Plantation Dairy opened offering a full line of fresh and aged cheeses.
Folse has received numerous national and international accolades. In 1987, the Louisiana Restaurant Association named him "Louisiana Restaurateur of the Year." In 1989, Nation's Restaurant News inducted Lafitte's Landing Restaurant into its "Fine Dining Hall of Fame." In 1990, the American Culinary Federation named Folse the "National Chef of the Year." In 1992, Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, recognized Folse with an honorary doctor of Culinary Arts Degree, as did Baltimore International Culinary College in 1995. In 1994, he assumed the role as national president of the American Culinary Federation, the largest organization of professional chefs in America. In 1995, Folse was one of 50 people recognized in Nation's Restaurant News' "Profiles of Power." In 1996, Lafitte's Landing Restaurant received the Award of Excellence from Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA). Folse served two terms as DiRoNA Chairman from 2000 to 2001, and he currently serves on the American Cheese Society's Cheese Advisory Panel. In 1998, Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing received TGI Friday's Inc. Procurement Product Development Award for assisting in the development of Friday's Jack Daniels� Glaze. In 1998, Food Arts magazine awarded Folse the "Silver Spoon Award" for his sterling performance and contributions to the food service industry. In 1999, the Research Chefs Association named Chef John Folse & Company "Pioneers in Culinology" because of the efforts of Folse's culinary research team. In 2001, Folse was elected to RCA's Board of Directors. In November 1999, the Acadiana Chapter of the American Culinary Federation inducted Folse into the Louisiana Chef's Hall of Fame for his lifetime contributions to the promotion of Louisiana cuisine. Additionally, Folse received the Antonin Careme Medal in November 2000. Folse is currently serving as president of RCA.
Twenty-five years of culinary excellence later, Folse is still adding ingredients to the corporate gumbo he calls Chef John Folse & Company, which is as diverse as the Louisiana landscape, and he would not want it any other way.