Chefs in Emeril Lagasse's Boudin, Bourbon and Beer talk about the star of the culinary show before they cook.

boudin bourbon and beer photos
Emeril Lagasse Foundation's Boudin, Bourbon and Beer 2014 in Champions Square

Friday, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Boudin, Bourbon and Beer returns to Champions Square for the second year, and last year’s event was one of the best uses of that venue. With two tents of boudin-based dishes by some of the most celebrated chefs in the South, it lined up a genuinely impressive an occasionally daunting lineup of food to sample. There were moments when the stakes were sufficiently raised by some dishes that some suffered only by comparison. Here’s my Storifyed account of last year’s BBB.

Champions Square also allows an impressive musical lineup, this year with headliners St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Elle King, Sweet Crude, and Silverado Pickups.

As chefs prepared for this year’s Boudin, Bourbon and Beer, we asked them boudin, and how this distinctly South Louisiana specialty factors into their thinking. 

John Currence, City Grocery Restaurant Group
Oxford, Mississippi

What are you looking for in a good boudin?
Spice, liver, and a little snap when it is cut into. 

What are the things you think about when cooking with boudin? 
Paper plates, plastic knives, cheap yellow mustard, and gas station parking lots. And beer.

How did you integrate boudin into your culinary aesthetic in your Boudin, Bourbon and Beer dish?
Ours is a riff on a Vietnamese rice porridge that we use ground pork and liver as the protein. It has a little bit of an Asian slant to it, and just enough spice to grab you by the tongue.

Habteab Hamde, Bern’s Steakhouse
Tampa, Florida

What are the things you think about when cooking with boudin? 
I will be exploring the home, kitchen, farm-style soul gastronomy, utilizing the whole animal, using ancient grain and freshly blend of spice

How did you integrate boudin into your culinary aesthetic in your Boudin, Bourbon and Beer dish?
To create the sausage, I utilized pork butt, shoulder, tripe, liver, heart, kidney and chitlins, I’m also serving a crispy injera made of rye and teff, and green awaze made of roasted chilies, ajwain, grain of paradise and ginger that was blended and braised in bourbon. .

Rene Louapre, Hogs for the Cause
New Orleans, Louisiana

What are you looking for in a good boudin?
Good boudin to me is all about texture and flavor. I like a semi-smooth boudin with a rich, livery flavor and a good streak of spice.

What are the things you think about when cooking with boudin? 
How can I enhance the boudin? If I want more richness, I would add a soft poached egg with a runny yolk, or maybe I want to highlight the spice so I will serve it with some pickled shrimp.

How did you integrate boudin into your culinary aesthetic in your Boudin, Bourbon and Beer dish?
We chose not to do a traditional boudin, but instead retooled the elements with Caribbean flavors. So we have a super delicious pork rillette, some pickled vegetables, and a plantain mustard. It will all sit on top a rice cracker. Is it boudin? Probably not, but it’s boudin after a week spent lounging in the Caymans.

Kevin Rathbun, Rathbun’s Restaurant
Atlanta, Georgia

What are you looking for in a good boudin?<
I am a fan of Cajun boudin. I look for flavor and texture in boudin. I like my spice and particularly the meats that are in boudin. Crawfish is a favorite, but I'm also a big fan of chicken liver and hearts. 

What are the things you think about when cooking with boudin? 
When cooking boudin, I love smoked foods and grilling sausage that snap. When cooking boudin that is very important for texture purposes. 

How did you integrate boudin into your culinary aesthetic in your Boudin, Bourbon and Beer dish?
I'm doing a play on boudin pierogi: dirty rice risotto with open-faced, griddled pierogi dough.

Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery
New Orleans, Louisiana

What are you looking for in a good boudin?
I look for heavy seasoning, and a good moisture ratio. All Cajun food is seasoned well and boudin is no exception. Boudin should be moist, even when it's fried.

What are the things you think about when cooking with boudin? 
When I make boudin, I always think of home. I'm from Rayne in the heart of Cajun country, and it really brings me back.

How did you integrate boudin into your culinary aesthetic in your Boudin, Bourbon and Beer dish?
I'm making cracklings for Boudin, Bourbon and Beer. It's boudin’s brother. It's the most common combo for your Cajun snack selection.