Wednesday, March 12, 2008

First Lady Visits Ralph's on the Park

The fair city of New Orleans hosted a visit last week for First Lady Laura Bush. Reporter Stacey Plaisance covered the March 3, 2008, visit for the Associated Press. Mrs. Bush's visit included remarks at Henry C. Schaumburg Elementary School in the morning, to which she granted $75,000. She also visited The Idea Village, an economic development organization for social and economic change and recovery, where she spoke on many topics, including recovery of the restaurant industry. Mrs. Bush and her party then stopped for lunch prepared by Executive Chef Haley Bitterman at Ralph's On The Park, a member of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group.

Ralph Brennan attended the lunch, where discussion focused on housing. Members of Habitat for Humanity, among others, also attended. "Ralph's on the Park is proud to showcase the gracious hospitality and culinary creativity that define New Orleans," Ralph Brennan said. "We are delighted to welcome the First Lady back -- particularly to discuss housing recovery, an issue near and dear to all of our hearts."

It wasn't the first visit to one of Ralph Brennan's dining establishments for the First Lady. As mentioned in our previous blog entry, President and Mrs. Bush visited the city in October 2005 to survey damage and talk to community leaders during a three-course dinner hosted in at Bacco. Twenty-five guests attended, including Mayor Ray Nagin and members of the Bring Back New Orleans Commission. Chris Montero, Executive Chef at Bacco and contributing chef to Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, prepared a meal including Gumbo Ya-Ya.

The housing issue has resonance for Ralph Brennan's Restaurant Group. 70% of their employees' homes were destroyed according to estimates made in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Included in the list were the homes of Bacco General Manager Roy Barre and Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group Executive Vice President Charlee Williamson. A photo of the President at Bacco can be found here.

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