Chef Blaine Guillot, who cooks up culinary creations like seafood-stuffed peppers and crawfish enchiladas for the crowd at the St. Charles Parish Hospital café, has been named one of the top chefs in the state.
Guillot, who has served as the hospital’s director of food and nutrition services for the last six years, was chosen by the American Culinary Federation of New Orleans as one of the top 30 chefs in Louisiana. Other chefs who received the honor included Spencer Minch of Emeril’s Delmonico, David Haydel Jr. of Haydel’s Bakery and Chef John Folse.
"It feels pretty good to receive this honor because there are a lot of great chefs in New Orleans and the area is known for its food," Guillot said. "I’m especially honored because I have a hospital background."
Guillot graduated from Nicholls in 1999, went through the John Folse Culinary Institute and interned in France before landing at St. Charles Parish Hospital.
Guillot’s food was such a big draw that the hospital remodeled the cafeteria in 2010 and re-christened it as the Oyster’s Pearl. Now the café has a soup station, a potato bar, sandwich area and salad bar. That’s in addition to the grilled Mahi Mahi, fried soft shell crab, chicken stew, pastas and roasted chicken that have been diner favorites.
"Business has been great since the renovation," Guillot said with a laugh. "In fact, we probably need another expansion."
Guillot estimates that 60 percent of the cafeteria’s business comes from outside the hospital to get a home-cooked meal at a reasonable price. That’s especially true for the hospital’s heart healthy items, which cost only $3.69.
"Every day we have two regular hot entrees and one healthy item," Guillot said. "You can get half a serving of grilled fish with half a portion of vegetables."
Many regular meals at the café include a hot entrée, side and a drink and cost less than $6.
Guillot said that his favorite dishes to cook at Oyster’s Pearl include eggplant Isabella, which is a fried eggplant topped with a tomato and crawfish cream sauce, jambalaya and shrimp and grits. The most popular dish now is the seafood platter, which is served on Fridays. The platter cost $7.99 for a small serving and $10.99 for a large serving.
"And everything we serve here is freshly prepared every day," Guillot said. "We have a wonderful staff here and it is all made possible by the support of St. Charles Parish Hospital."
Guillot, along with the other top chefs, will cook at an event on April 16 at Generation Hall in New Orleans that will allow customers to sample food cooked by all 30 honorees.
Proceeds from the event will go to help the Children’s Hospital’s Cancer Program as well as the International School of Louisiana and culinary scholarships.
The $75 ticket also includes access to a live band and free adult beverages. The event begins at 7 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.acfno.com.