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Behind the Scenes at Boudin, Bourbon & Beer

Inside The Foundry.
Inside The Foundry.

[Photos: Josh Brasted]

Yesterday the Emeril Lagasse Foundation's executive director Kristen Shannon took Eater NOLA on a behind the scenes tour of The Foundry (333 St. Joseph St.) as her team prepares for Boudin, Bourbon & Beer. Now in its third year, the event? which is tonight at 7 p.m. with limited tickets available at the door, y'all, $99? has become one of New Orleans' favorite down-home culinary events. Maybe it's because some of the best chefs in the Nation like Mario Batali, Emeril, Donald Link, John Currence, and Edward Lee are just there hanging out, serving up boudin, and drinking beer.

Maybe it's because the musical line-up continues to amaze each year? Shannon actually met Grace Potter's husband at a Mario Batali Foundation event, and he contacted her a week later about performing at BBB? but a few things are certain: The event is fun, gaining momentum, and in turn, helping to raise millions of dollars for programs that benefit lots of New Orleans children and teens through progrmas like the culinary arts center at NOCCA, The Edible Schoolyard, and St. Michael's school. After the jump find some new details about what to look for at tonight's event, and also a look inside the Hyatt kitchen as Emeril's chefs prepare for Carnivale du Vin

What to Look For This Year:
· A new layout inside the Foundry allows for more seating, and room to walk around since last year got a little clusterfuggish
· There's a Buffalo Trace map for mixed drinks? which are being made by New Orleans finest such as Daniel Victory, Jason Lee, and Michael Glassberg. You can get this map stamped at each mixed drink station. If you get all the stamps, there will be prizes awaiting you (and one of them is probably a hangover).
· Abita Beer has made a special Christmas Ale just for BBB, so make sure to try it because it won't be available elsewhere.
· The portalets are located near the beer tents this year, so if you need to use the bathroom, look for the beer.
· The stage is on the opposite side as last year to accommodate more people
· Emeril, Mario Batali, and Donald Link will be set up next to the Stage on the N. Diamond Street side.
· Cheftestapants, author of the new book Smoke & Pickles Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville will be set up inside The Foundry.
· John Besh and John Currence, also new cookbook authors, will have spots next to each other outside, as will master cheftestapants Sue Zemanick and her "favorite female chef" Naomi Pomeroy of BEAST in Portland.
· You can vote for your favorite dish at #boudinbourbonbeer, for a chance to win a trip to Florida.
· Shannon tells Eater they aren't doing the charcuterie set up this year, but there will be veggies, provided by Cafe Reconcile as opposed to Rouse's last year.
· Cafe Reconcile and NOCCA will have their young chefs on hand at the event.
· The pig poster is for sale this year, and all participating chefs will receive copies signed by Emeril.

[Photos: Brasted]

Kristen Shannon also took Eater to The Hyatt, where the entire Emeril chef team is busy preparing a meal for 700 Carnivale du Vin gala/live auction attendees. "We decided to do a risotto and a carved duck breast this year," chef Chris Wilson tells Eater. "Normally you wouldn't make something like that for 700 guests, but we're stepping it up."

Wilson is the culinary director of Emeril's homebase (their test kitchen), and Lagasse's three New Orleans restaurants, Emeril's, NOLA and Delmonico. He carries a large black binder around with him, which holds all the culinary secrets to this year's sold-out Carnivale du Vin. "It's all in the prep, the 7 Ps. We're actually ahead of schedule," he says. "But we have to take everything downstairs for the event," and oh yeah, there's no kitchen down there. The event will have a temporary kitchen and the most epic plating line of all time. "We have a plan," he says.

He also has a crew of 11 other Emeril's chefs, who've come in from Florida, Vegas, even Pennsylvania, and countless more including teens from Cafe Reconcile and NOCCA on hand to prep and help with the event. Wilson, who is also creating a pork cheek Boudin for tonight's BBB event as well, seems incredibly calm despite the task at hand. "Really?" he says, "It's kind of like a duck. They seem really calm on the surface, but underneath the feet are going like this a mile a minute."

Last year, Mario Batali and team created the five-course dinner, but this year features a dinner created by all of Emeril's chefs, and dessert from celeb chef Jacques Torres. The reception will be held down by celebrity chefs, including John Besh, Cat Cora, and Aaron Sanchez, and Rick Moonen. Not too mention the Wagner Family of wine, and Cakebread, Pride Mountain, and more impressive vineyards on hand to pair with the food. Meanwhile, about those insane Alaskan king crab legs pictured above...they will be going into a corn soup with chive pesto and hazlenut butter, in case you're wondering.