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On this edition of the NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias, we have two great conversations on tap! First, we chat with Shane Finkelstein of Top Taco New Orleans along with Casa Borrega’s Orestes Montero Cruz about the 2nd annual event. Then, we visit the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and talk with Pepper Bowen, Director of the Culinaria program, about food policy, culture, history, and more!

Pictured above from left – Pepper Bowen of Culinaria and Bryan Dias of NOLADrinks.

NOLADrinks – 1-25-18 – Food Policy and Culture with Culinaria – Top Taco New Orleans

We start things off talking about who’s on the show this week. We also rundown a couple events including the Krewe du Vieux parade taking place (weather permitting!) this weekend. It’s certainly an adults-only, irreverent, and satirical procession that features a great lineup of brass bands and is laden with political and cultural humor.

We also talk about a terrific event coming up on Monday called “Speed Rack.” It’s an all-female bartender competition that benefits breast cancer awareness and research. It takes place at the famed music venue, Howlin’ Wolf. See more here.

Next up, we head to the Central City area of New Orleans for our two featured interviews. In fact, both took place about 2 blocks from each other on the historic Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. First, we talk with Shane Finkelstein (at left, far left), owner of Nacho Mama’s in Elmwood, and Orestes Montero Cruz (at left, center), bar manager at Casa Borrega, where we taped this portion of the show. Shane is the producer of the fun event Top Taco NOLA that is heading into its second year. Orestes, part of the family that owns Casa Borrega restaurant, will be participating this year.

Top Taco NOLA is an event that brings together tacos and agave-based cocktails for a good time and a good cause. It takes place at Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter on Thursday, March 15. A new edition to the proceedings will be several events leading up to Top Taco NOLA as part of the newly created “Agave Week.” That kicks-off on the preceding Sunday with activities including dinners, industry-oriented presentations, happy hours, and more.

We discuss the various events, participants, and the excellent charity it benefits – One Heart NOLA – that assists young people aging out of the foster care system in Louisiana. We also chat about the dinner taking place during Agave Week at Casa Borrega – a paired agave cocktail meal with Oaxacan inspired cuisine.

We then head down the street to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum once again (we were just there last week – we love this place!) This time around, we talk with Pepper Bowen who is the Director of the Culinaria program. It’s part of the National Food and Beverage Foundation, of which the museum is also a part, with their Center for Food, Law, Policy, and Culture.


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With Pepper, we discuss food policy, a very rich and important topic that not only relates to legislation and regulation but also to history, culture, immigration, issues of race, and much more. It’s a fascinating chat, the first of many we will have with Pepper. We touch on issues such as our collective disconnect from food and from where it comes, the evolving world of food policy, cultural implications, urban farming, and more.

Also, of note, she will be starting a podcast next month called “Green Pepper” dedicated to these topics. So, be on the lookout for that!

Below the map that shows the location of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Casa Borrega, and Woldenberg Park you can subscribe to, stream, and download the NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias podcast!

Cheers, You All!

~ Bryan