Étoile Is Welcome New Addition to NOLA Culinary Scene With True Farm to Table Menu

Photo Credit: Marielle Songy

What do you get when you cross a seasoned Louisiana-born chef with a restaurant committed to serving locally-produced food grown on small farms? The answer is Étoile, the newest restaurant from acclaimed chef Christopher Dupont. 

Dupont, a New Orleans native, was raised on the Westbank and attended St. Joseph Academy and West Jefferson High School. His journey into the culinary world began as a means to fund his passion for tennis, working in restaurants such as Visko’s, La Ruth’s, and Christian’s. It was at Christian’s that Dupont’s love for the kitchen started to bloom. After graduating from Birmingham-Southern College, he honed his skills at Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega Cafe in Birmingham, and La Tour Eiffel and Flagons in New Orleans.

In 1994, he opened his first restaurant, Café Dupont, in Springville, Alabama. It was then that he committed himself to obtaining the freshest ingredients from small producers.

He says, “I realized after working in good kitchens with good products, I had trouble getting that level of product delivered to such a small place. That was eye-opening because I had to figure out where to get my produce and dry goods. It was like being on an island; I realized I had to change the way I viewed my products and how I was going to cook with them.”

Dupont became what he describes as a forager, directly seeking food for his restaurant, years before there was such a thing as ‘farm-to-table’ or the slow food movement. He used nearby fruit and vegetable orchards, a fish farm, various gardens, and other resources to stock his kitchen. Within months, Dupont was getting fresh food from all local sources and began offering courses that used the product in the best way possible. During this process, he developed his philosophy on cooking: that fresh seasonal food changes the dynamic of the cooking and dining process. This philosophy is at the heart of Étoile’s culinary offerings, with each dish carefully crafted to highlight the natural flavors of the seasonal ingredients used.

“In Alabama, land is cheap and there are a lot of young farmers who have one or two acres and are growing a lot and making a living,” Dupont explains. “Farmer’s markets in Birmingham attract thousands of people, are a cultural event, and a connection to the land. In New Orleans, I’ve met a few growers who are in it because it’s their livelihood; it isn’t a hobby. The ones who are growing here are committed to putting out good product because they are small and unique in how they grow. It’s a way of life.”

Photo Credit: Marielle Songy

Dupont credits JV Foods, a wholesale food distributor in Destrehan, with stemming his connection with small farms inside and outside of New Orleans. The company buys fresh food such as corn, peaches, tomatoes, oysters, fish, and meat and sells it to restaurants that want to add fresh produce and meat to their menus. This partnership allows Étoile to source its ingredients directly from local farms, ensuring that the food served is not only fresh but also supports the local agricultural community. This commitment to local sourcing is a key part of the restaurant’s farm-to-table concept, which aims to provide diners with a unique and sustainable dining experience. 

“Having JV Foods as a resource has been valuable because they have the connection to these folks around Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi,” Dupont explains. “I like anything we put on a plate to be at least eighty percent farm-to-table. We want the food to be rustic and not over-curated.”

Some of the farms from which Dupont gets his product are Fekete Farms in Hammond, Louisiana; Little Brown Egg Farm in Singer, Louisiana; Atkinson Farm Produce in Spring, Texas; Two Dog Farms in Flora, Mississippi; Allegri Farm in Daphne, Alabama; and many more.

Étoile is Dupont’s homecoming. After Hurricane Ida, he and his family began renting a home in New Orleans, and he saw an opportunity to start his next culinary chapter in the city in which he was raised. When his realtor suggested he look at the spot that was Cavan’s former home, he knew it was the perfect space for his new venture. The restaurant opened just a few weeks ago.

Étoile offers a French-inspired tasting menu of seven courses with an optional wine pairing. Course selection changes regularly, but highlights include Seed Cracker, Bluefin Tartar and French Ostera Caviar with cold crudo broth and horseradish crème fraiche; Tomato Gazpacho and Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with fried tomato, cucumber, apple, peas, and cantaloupe; Rabbit Terrine and Goat Cheese Souffle with cocktail tomatoes and baby romaine; and Stuffed Quail with corn cake stuffing, Silver Queen creamed corn, and polenta. Price is $110 per person with an optional $60 wine pairing. 

Cocktails include twists on classics such as Uptown Manhattan made with Tempelton rye, Lecarre brandy, and sweet vermouth; Étoile 75 made with Lecarre brandy, lemon, and sparkling wine; and Local Old Fashioned made with bourbon, Steen’s Cane Syrup, and El Guapo chicory pecan bitters.

Étoile has three dinner services on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The restaurant opens at 6:00 p.m., Thursday through Friday. Reservations are required. 

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