Every year, the Young Lawyers Division of the New Orleans Bar Association holds an event known as the New Orleans Bar & Grille. This year marked the 10th annual such event, and my only regret about this is that I didn't know about it until the 5th annual event! The motto of the event, which is a fundraiser for Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, is "Where there's a fork in the road, pick it up and start eating!"
Now, the most important thing about this event--of course--is the fundraiser aspect. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services is a non-profit corporation serving individuals and families who, without the legal assistance that SLLS provides, would lose a critical human need--food, shelter, income, medical care, personal safety, or parental care. Tulane students participate in externships with SLLS, and many of our alumni have gone on to work for SLLS. It is one of those entities that provides a critical service and that deserves more support than it receives.
Teams of amateur chefs from local law firms and other companies participate in a cook-off and compete for Best Local Favorite, Best Dessert, Most Creative, and so on. Over the years, I have seen the competition ratchet up to the point that much of the food is as good as that at our finest restaurants in New Orleans--and that's saying a lot.
A few months ago, I was asked if I'd consider spending 90 minutes as a "celebrity bartender" at the event. Celebrity? Me? Why, of course! And then, a couple of weeks ago, one of our alums (who is now one of my very favorite people) mentioned that if I could spend the entire afternoon at this event, I could be (are you ready?) a Food Judge! Naturally, I immediately cleared my calendar. My co-judges included two REAL judges, one of whom (a Tulane alum) formerly ran the Domestic Violence & Family Law department at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, is now the first Orleans Civil District Court judge whose docket is limited to family law issues, AND who won the grand prize at the New Orleans Bar & Grille several years ago for her lamb curry.
So that's what I did yesterday. I tasted 36 entirely wonderful dishes! It was hard work, but somebody had to do it. This is a particularly nice event for Tulane law students to attend, because of the networking potential. Beautiful weather, great food, and a lot of very friendly members of the New Orleans Bar, all in one place. And who knows...someday maybe you, too, could be a food judge!