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Thursday, May 24, 2012

William Kushner – 2012 Tourism Lifetime Service Award

Marsha Kushner with
Kyle Edmiston, Assistant Secretary of the
Louisiana Office of Tourism
& Gumbeaux Gator, SWLA's goodwill ambassador

"Kushner - A Lifetime of Music"

-By Angie Manning

The late William Kushner, former director of the Lake Charles Symphony,  was recently honored with the Tourism Lifetime Service Award, with Marsha Kushner accepting the award. During National Tourism Week, the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau recognized Kushner's many years of commitment to bringing music to life with the Lake Charles Symphony thereby enhancing the culture of Southwest Louisiana from a tourism perspective.

William Kushner

Kushner graduated from Julliard School of Music in New York City and was a clarinetist with the Houston and New Orleans Symphonies and the New York City Opera and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras in New York. Kushner brought his strong musical background and extensive experience to the Lake Charles Symphony in 1958. In 1967, he became the conductor of the Rapides Symphony in Alexandria, Louisiana, leading it from 1968 until his retirement in 2002. For 30 years, 1978 to 2008, Maestro Kushner was conductor of the Lake Charles Symphony, a role to which he brought his professional work ethic, kind spirit, laughter and incredible musical sensibility. Kushner also taught music at McNeese State University for 17 years. Under Kushner's leadership, the Southwest Louisiana musical community grew. The arts community misses Maestro Kushner dearly.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wild Beast Feast Re-cap!

The Boys are Back in Town! The Chris Shearman Experience.

Wild Beast Feast…So…How Was It?!

(Besides Totally Rocking?)

-By Angie Manning

The Wild Beast Feast was a smashing success by all accounts from the turnout to the decorations, the band, the chefs, the auction items, the people, and let’s not forget the Edgemont Happy Hour Bartenders. There was never a line at that bar, and that’s actually saying something with the crowd! Everyone put their “all” into making the event a huge success, and rumor has it (especially if you check, that there was a frenzy with footwear fashion that night! Everyone is trying so hard to be like Bohuslav...yet falling short! Yeah, totally check out those pix.) Anyway, let’s hear a few comments from the peeps who attended and helped put this thing together!

Bohuslav Rattay, Lake Charles Symphony Conductor:
 “I think this year’s Wild Beast Feast was the best so far. I mean, I only did two so far, but this year’s definitely trumped last year's. More people, better organized and even better food. Everyone commented on how great the bar crew was. They kept it moving and kept the entertainment going…I think every single soul that night had a wonderful time.”

 Karen Drewett:
“The Wild Beast Feast was alive! I could feel the energy and excitement! More people, more chefs, and the best crowd mix from -all ages.”

 Ann Barilleaux:
“The Chris Shearman Experience is awesome. The Beast Feast has grown. I remember when it started in the VFW. All of the food is amazing, and I ate way too much. The Edgemont Bar Crew is so much fun!”

Ashly Fruge, Symphony Director:
“Food was delicious as always. The auctions were bigger and better than last year. The Edgemont Happy Hour Bartenders were so much fun. They made the experience even better. The Chris Shearman Experience band played awesome music that everyone there could relate to in some way. “

Leslie Milligan:
As for Abbie Grace’s perspective, Leslie’s daughter commented…that the most exciting aspect of the Beast Feast for her was trying all the new foods. She's a pretty adventurous eater and enjoyed sampling each of the different chef's creations. Leslie shared that her family has been enjoying the Wild Beast Feast since Abbie was a toddler when it was held at the VFW on Country Club Road!

Chris Shearman with the Chris Shearman Experience Band:
“For my first Beast Feast, I thought the event was a blast. Everyone there knew each other, so it was like a big extended family event. It was a great turnout. This event was a lot of fun, and I plan to attend every year…and hopefully play music at it!”

Cassie Price:
“This year we had an amazing response from chefs who were very interested in joining us.  There were 24 chef teams this year.  As every year, I am so impressed by the passion that these people have for the art of cooking!  If you were able to visit with any of them Saturday night, you could see how much pleasure they got from talking to the patrons about their food. The delight on their faces, the energy and the enthusiasm is infectious!  It is a very diverse group of individuals! These chefs are lawyers, nurses, bankers, fishermen, moms, retail managers, investors, professional chefs and you name it…I thoroughly enjoy talking and communicating with the cooks. To me, they are what sets this event apart from other events.  These men and women so graciously donate their time and all of the food.”

 SPECIAL THANKS TO: The Stream Family & Iberia Bank, co-title sponsors.
Merchant and Farmers Bank, Popeye's and Stockwell Sievert - event sponsors. All auction item donors - Vickie Singletary who donated two paintings for the Wild Beast Feast:  "Get your Jazz On" and "The Art behind Shostakovich." The chefs, the judges, volunteers, Hal McMillan, the Edgemont Bar Crew and the Chris Shearman Experience. Empire of the Seed, Matt Redd and NAI Lake Charles, First Federal, and Southwest Beverage. Jambalaya news for cover story sponsored by First Federal Bank and Lacassine Oil. All the volunteers and Symphony board members.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wild Beast Feast – “True Chef Confessions!”

Lon Oden is the ancestor of Tad Martin's wife.
He was a ranger in late 1800s. This is very cool!

Wild Beast Feast – “True Chef Confessions!”
-By Angie Manning

I have to say that I had no idea what I was getting into when I thought about writing a blog on the chefs for the Wild Beast Feast. I thought that it’d be an innocent little story about sportsmen who like to cook after hunting – kinda thing. Oh no! These sportsmen chefs are characters, and they have a huge heart for the arts. I heard back from some teams on their secret cooking plans – namely the “Mangy Coyotes,” the “Panini Brothers” and the “We Got (pork) Butts!” So, here’s a little “meet the chefs” piece for your reading enjoyment! LOL!

Meet the Mangy Coyotes…So, the Mangy Coyotes team consists of Tad Martin, Don Walser, Leo Reddoch and Owen Thompson. Owen and Tad both work at Merrill Lynch; Leo is a surveyor and owns Unishippers, and Don is a Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer here in Lake Charles.  They are all big deer, turkey and duck hunters. So, why the “Mangy Coyotes?” What’s with the name? The Mangy Coyote name comes as a reference to South Texas where Tad’s wife is from and - where he primarily deer and turkey hunts.  Of course, the best part about living in Southwest Louisiana, according to Tad, is the hunting, people and spicy food!  The Mangy Coyotes will be cooking up a rotisserie feral hog from South Texas and possibly some Axis or whitetail roasts on the spit. As to why Tad supports the Symphony?  Well, he loves music and has really begun to appreciate classical music more since his wife is a classical pianist who teaches music and has a degree in performance piano.  And I quote (from Tad) about loving classical music: “I have no choice!  We are very proud to be able to support the Symphony.” (I think…behind every good turkey hunter…is a good classical pianist! Or…maybe…you are what you hunt for?!)

Meet the Panini Brothers…The Panini Brothers are made up of William Monk, Lee Boyer and Keith Duplechin. Last year, they did shrimp and tasso pizzas with caramelized onions, gruyere cheese and alfredo sauce. This year, they are cooking up two unique paninis, with an account of the history and “wildness” of each recipe.  One will be a saucy “Rachel” Panini.  The other will be a “Peachy Cuban.” How peachy?! The group enjoys cooking for any reason, especially a good cause like this one, and they like to sample all the other contributions too.  Monk said, “One of the most enjoyable things about living in Southwest Louisiana is combining the best local ingredients with the best local recipes, and then, during the meal, talking about what we plan to cook next!  And, the best meals are combined with good music and good friends.” (Well said!)

Meet the We Got (pork) Butts…Chris Price, from Lake Charles, lives in New Orleans with his wife and works in the financial services industry, but that does not stop him from participating in the Wild Beast Feast event in Lake Charles. Chris said, “I love supporting the Symphony through the Beast Feast... It's such a great event that I've been trying to get a couple groups that I'm part of in New Orleans to replicate it!” Chris is making tacos two ways - wild boar and rabbit in different preparations. He will also be serving a watermelon-strawberry agua fresca. For fun, Chris enjoys playing with his dogs Winston and Mio, playing soccer, cooking and just enjoying the music, food and culture of New Orleans.

Come on out to see these chefs and many more during the Wild Beast Feast on Saturday, May 5, from 5-10 p.m. at the Cash & Carry Building on Enterprise Blvd. For more information, check or call the office at (337) 433-1611.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Edgemont Happy Hour Bar Crew! (Wild Beast Feast) May 5

The Wild Beast Feast will have a special appearance by
these guys! They invented the "Edgemont Beast" drink
in honor of the Wild Beast Feast. Seems that the chefs
will not be the only creative culinary force!
Pictured: Luke Saucier, Dean Manning, Steve Lang & Mark Judson
Wild Beast Feast Features the
Edgemont Happy Hour Bar Crew!
-by guest writer Kelley Saucier

I sat down for an impromptu lunch Friday afternoon with Luke Saucier, Dean Manning, and Mark Judson, the undeniable Mayor of Edgemont. Over some of the best taco soup I’ve ever had, we discussed Edgemont Happy Hour, Edgemont Beer Summit, funny neighborhood stories, yoga (how does that fit in?), and, of course, their guest appearance behind the bar at the Wild Beast Feast.

Everyone considers Mark Judson the Mayor of Edgemont. As Dean puts it, “If not Mark, who?” So, I asked Mark, as the official mayor, about his vision for the Edgemont Happy Hour Bar at WBF. “A true bar is a state of mind. It can only be defined in the eye of the beholder. The majority of our celebrity bar tenders’ experience has been on the other side of the bar – and it is vast experience. We will utilize that vast knowledge to create the ultimate patron experience. We have a huge assembly of talent – an all-star team of goodtime-gurus for the Beast Feast.” Joining Judson, Saucier and Manning are Steve Lang, Dallas Kingham, Denny Dennison, and Randy King. Things will be moving fast at the Edgemont Bar!

When I asked Dean about his Edgemont Bar vision he replied, “The Bar is where everyone knows your name.” The homage to the television series Cheers! is appropriate, as I think that’s what we all love about living in Lake Charles and attending fun events like WBF – this is a place where you do know just about everyone! Dean also says that he “defers to Mayor Mark in all things bar related” and will most likely be the bar-back, while the Mayor is the front man.

Luke is the Bartender-in-Chief of the Happy Hour Bar. The Edgemont Beast is the signature drink he created especially for the WBF. Although the recipe is a secret, Saucier assures us that The Beast will live up to its name. “The Beast introduces itself like a lamb, mid-conversation lights start flickering, lightning strikes, and finally, The Beast roars. Luke’s recommended consumption is “one per customer!”

In addition to The Edgemont Beast, the Happy Hour Bar Crew will be serving Casa Manana Margaritas, beer, wine, and of course various non-alcoholic soft drinks and water. Don’t miss the fun at the Lake Charles Symphony Wild Beast Feast!

     Edgemont is a charming downtown Lake Charles neighborhood filled with sidewalks, azaleas, live oaks and a mixture of architectural styles. Many houses in the neighborhood were  built in the 1940s and at that time it was the edge of town. Residents blend old and new together, as young families and retired citizens enjoy the drone of lawnmowers, children laughing and quiet weekends; quiet, except for that one Friday night per month when the Edgemont Happy Hour gathers at an appointed home. A 17 year tradition, the Happy Hour has created legends and built friendships that will last a lifetime.