Taste Louisiana food at Charlotte, NC restaurants


Chef Ryan Trahan's wagyu tartar at Lafayette's Vestal restaurant.

Chef Ryan Trahan’s wagyu tartar at Lafayette’s Vestal restaurant.

Get ready, Charlotte. Louisiana is coming to the Queen City.

On Nov. 3 — and for one night only — 14 chefs from across the Bayou State will host select Charlotte restaurants to present some of their finest culinary creations.

Presented by Louisiana Culinary Trails, the Louisiana X Charlotte restaurant night is part of a campaign that began more than a decade ago to offer big-city foodies a little Louisiana lagniappe to whet their appetites and make them want to take a trip to the Bayou. Past takeovers have taken place in New York, Atlanta, Nashville and Houston, among others.

“Charlotte, we’re coming to you, and we’re going to give you some amazing food that you can only find in Louisiana. Hopefully, you’ll leave hungry for more,” said chef Samantha “Sam” Carroll, Food Network star, restaurateur and executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

Carroll’s team, which works closely with the Louisiana Office of Tourism and Culinary Trails, will ship about 1,000 pounds of seafood to Charlotte for the event.

“Not only are our chefs some of the best in our state, but we offer fresh Louisiana seafood from our waters so people can enjoy the work of our fishermen. It doesn’t get more authentic than that,” said Carroll, who has also been a featured chef at previous shopping events. “But it’s not just seafood. There will be something for meat lovers and a bit of everything.”

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Gumbo is one of Louisiana’s top dishes. Tim Mueller/Louisiana Office of Tourism Louisiana trip

For the Charlotte event, each Louisiana chef will come from a different part of the state, named among the best by tourism officials. They will be paired with a local restaurant and collaborate with management and staff to create a special menu.

NoDa’s Goodyear House is among the participating Charlotte restaurants and will host chef Ryan Trahan, owner of Vestal Restaurant in Lafayette. He will work closely with Goodyear House Chef Chris Coleman to help prepare five specialty dishes for the event.

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Chef Ryan Trahan of Green Olive Media at Vestal Restaurant

“Ryan’s going to do a wagyu tartare with oyster mayo, crispy crab and rice cake and red cracklin crust, which I’ve heard is pretty interesting in terms of preparation,” said Coleman, whose family has roots in Louisiana. “And then, on our side, I’m paying homage to my mom’s jambalaya, a Carolina golden rice creole with shrimp and chicken. Our young chef from Monroe, La., is making his mother’s creole filé gumbo.


Coleman said the Louisiana ownership experience is a great way for local kitchen staff to learn from experienced chefs from another culture. He also said it is a way to expand his network and make new culinary friends. But most of all, he says, it will help put Charlotte on the map as a culinary destination.

“In the past, these events have been hosted by more famous food cities, so it’s a great honor to select Charlotte,” said Coleman. “It shows that we are a city that appears on people’s radar when it comes to food culture. We’re excited to learn from these Louisiana chefs, but we’re also excited to show off who we are.”

Charlotte chef Chris Coleman has appeared on the Food Network numerous times, including “Chopped,” “Beat Bobby Flay” and “Alex Vs. America.” Courtesy of Chris Coleman

Other participating restaurants include:

Reservations are recommended. Some places will welcome walk-ins, while others may require reservations or a pre-purchased ticket.

And what makes Louisiana cuisine so special?

“In Louisiana, it’s all about, ‘Where are we eating and what are we going to eat?'” Carroll said. “We have become such a culinary destination, partly because of the influence and heritage of all the settlers who brought their cuisine. Now, the dishes that are famous in Louisiana are the all-stars of every culture. It’s history on a plate. And with new blood and new people in the restaurant business, it’s being revived and updated, with chefs using more local ingredients and bringing these dishes up to date.”

If you can’t wait until November for your next bite of Cajun food, go ahead and check out Carroll’s recipes.

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Shannon Greene is a Charlotte native and Winthrop University graduate with over 20 years of journalism and communications experience. Outside of work, she enjoys going on adventures and making memories with her 6-year-old son, Evan. Follow her on Instagram Shannon_Greene_SC or Twitter @Shannon_Greene