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|John David Folse|
St. James Parish, Louisiana
|Cooking style||New Orleans, Louisiana, Cajun and Creole|
John Folse (born July 1946, St. James Parish, Louisiana, on the German Coast of the Mississippi River) is a Louisiana chef and restaurant owner, and a leading authority on Cajun and Creole cuisine and culture. His philosophy of life is summed up in the quote, “Risk is the tariff paid to leave the shores of predictable misery. The best fruit is not on the trunk of a tree; it’s on the limb.”
Restaurants and other Ventures
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, Bogotá in 1991, Taipei in 1992 and 1994 and Seoul in 1994. In 1988, the Sales and Marketing Executives of Greater Baton Rouge named Folse “Marketer of the Year” and the Louisiana Legislature gave him the title of "Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World.”
The success of Folse’s Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant, helped establish several other Chef John Folse & Company properties including White Oak Plantation in 1986, a catering and events management division; Chef John Folse & Company Publishing, since 1989, has produced nine 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 restaurants as well as the retail and food service industries. In January 2005 a new USDA manufacturing plant opened in Donaldsonville, and in 2007 growing demands pushed the plant to expand. In 2008, Folse cut the ribbon of his expanded 68,000 square-foot food manufacturing plant.
The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, opened in October 1994 and is dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana's rich culinary and cultural heritage.
The bakery 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.
In 2002, Bittersweet Plantation Dairy opened, and offers a full line of fresh and aged cheeses, butters, yogurts and ice cream.
TV and Radio
Chef Folse has for many years hosted a culinary radio show on Saturdays called "Stirrin' It Up!" The show is broadcast on many stations throughout the state of Louisiana, chiefly WBRP TALK 107.3 FM, Baton Rouge. The show is usually co-hosted by his right-hand person, Michaela D. York, his director of communications and marketing.
Awards and Recognition
- 1987, the Louisiana Restaurant Association named him “Louisiana Restaurateur of the Year.”
- 1989, Nation’s Restaurant News inducted Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant into its “Fine Dining Hall of Fame.”
- 1990, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) named Folse the “National Chef of the Year.”
- 1992, Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., recognized Folse with an honorary doctorate of Culinary Arts, as did Baltimore International Culinary College in 1995.
- 1994, he assumed the role as national president of the American Culinary Federation, the largest organization of professional chefs in America.
- 1995, Folse was one of 50 people recognized in Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Profiles of Power.”
- 1996, Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant received the Award of Excellence from Distinguished Restaurants of North America. (Folse served two terms as DiRōNA Chairman from 2000 to 2001.)
- 1998, Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing received TGI Friday’s Inc. Procurement Product Development Award for assisting in the development of T.G.I. Friday's Jack Daniels© Glaze.
- 1998, Food Arts magazine awarded Folse the “Silver Spoon Award” for his sterling performance and contributions to the food service industry.
- 1999, the Research Chefs Association (RCA) named Chef John Folse & Company "Pioneers in Culinology" because of the efforts of Folse's culinary research team.
- 2001, Folse was elected to RCA’s Board of Directors and served as RCA president from 2005-2007.
- 2011, Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing received TGI Friday's Inc. "Food Vendor of the Year" Award.
- 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.
- November 2000, the Antonin Carême Medal and has served on the National Dairy Council Chef’s Advisory Panel.
- 2007, American Judge for the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest in Lyon, France.
- October 2008, the Louisiana Governor’s Cultural Economic Development Arts Award and Southern Foodways Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award.
- August 2011, honored with the Grace “Mama” Marino Lifetime Achievement Award by Baton Rouge Epicurean Society
- December 2011, Honorary Doctorate of Commerce from NSU.
Folse serves as the marketing specialist on the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. He is a member of Chaines des Rotisseurs, and also on the Sister Dulce Foundation Board.
Folse is the author of:
- The Evolution of Cajun & Creole Cuisine (1990)
- Chef John Folse's Plantation Celebrations (1994), a cookbook focusing on recipes whose origins can be traced to Louisiana plantations along the Mississippi River
- Louisiana Sampler (1996), a collection of recipes from Louisiana Fairs & Festivals
- Hot Beignets & Warm Boudoirs (1999), a guide to Louisiana bed-and-breakfast inns and their recipes
- The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine (2004)
- After the Hunt-Louisiana's Authoritative Collection of Wild Game & Game Fish Cookery (2007)
Folse also co-authored:
- Something Old & Something New-Louisiana Cooking With A Change of Heart (1997), with Craig M. Walker, a cookbook of healthy versions of traditional Cajun and Creole cuisine
- Hooks, Lies & Alibis-Louisiana's Authoritative Collection of Game Fish & Seafood Cookery (2009) with co-author Michaela D. York.