Imagine a dinner of chicken and shrimp po’boys with remoulade sauce and blue cheese cole slaw, Creole jambalaya, spicy chicken-andouille sausage gumbo, corn hush puppies, red beans and rice and Cajun chicken. For dessert, you can choose from either king cake or bananas Foster. Doesn’t it sound like the perfect way to celebrate a holiday made famous for its parties during carnival time in New Orleans?
Chef Scott Teaman, graduate of Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts, is hoping so because for this year’s eighth annual Mardi Gras Fundraiser for Elyria Schools, Teaman is planning to whip up some traditional Mardi Gras foods for guests to enjoy.
Teaman, who is in his first year in Elyria as the food services director with Sodexo, the district’s contracted food provider, was excited when he heard about the annual event. Naturally, the first thing he wanted to know was what dishes were typically served.
“I quickly learned it was Mardi Gras, but it was not really Mardi Gras,” he said. “The food was great and I know everyone who prepared a dish did so with love, but there was cabbage and noodles, chicken paprikash, chicken tenders and pizza. That’s not Mardi Gras.”
Amy Higgins, district spokeswoman, said in the past the event mainly served the favorite dishes of district employees, which explains the eclectic mix of culinary treats.
“It was very much something for everyone,” she said. “But I’m excited to see what Scott has cooked up for us. Mardi Gras will feel that much more authentic with more traditional food.”
Teaman’s talents and passion for food are evident in all he does with Elyria Schools.
He and his foodservice team have initiated many new projects to interest Elyria students in good nutrition, including food tastings, chef competitions, special recognition tables during student lunches, breakfasts with the principals, and many other activities that liven up the lunchroom.
Beyond the food, which is likely to be the biggest draw, Higgins said guests can bid on themed baskets and have a Mardi Gras-themed caricature by art teacher Mel Rainey.
The event, set for 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 12 in the Nick Abraham Ford Building, 1115 E. Broad St., is a fundraiser for the Elyria Citizens Committee for Quality Education. Tickets are $15 and are available by calling (440) 284-8203.