Grey Bar

Exclusive Interview with Executive Chef of New John Besh Restaurant

Posted on: February 23rd, 2009 by admin No Comments

John Besh, chef and owner of several New Orleans restaurants including August and Lüke, will be opening a new Italian restaurant, Domenica, in The Roosevelt New Orleans this year. We got a chance to ask a few questions of Alon Shaya, executive chef of Domenica and partner in the restaurant, and the answers left our mouths watering…

Salumi will obviously be a big part of Domenica. Will you be using local pigs? What types of salumi, specifically, do you plan on offering, and why?

Once I returned from Italy that was the first thing I started doing. We had a few pigs from La Provence slaughtered and began curing the pig necks (coppa) the bellies for pancetta, the legs for culatello and fiochetto, and we also made lots of different kinds of salami, like strolghino and Gentile. Salumi will be a big part of what we do at Domenica because it is a big part of the everyday eating habits of Italians. I had a chance to work in a Salumificio (a butchery that makes all kinds of cured meats) outside of Parma and learned some very old recipes for different kinds of cured Italian meats, so that is what I am replicating back here in New Orleans.

I’ve heard that there are plans for a wood-fired oven for cooking meats, pizzas, and other Italian country fare. Can you whet our appetites with a hint of what’s to come?

We will have a wood fired brick oven in the kitchen to make Napolitano style pizzas. The great thing about those ovens is they also work great for roasting meats and fish, so we will take advantage of that as well. From Domenica you can expect the types of foods you would eat with families in the country sides of Italy. Braised game birds and rabbit, grilled whole fish with lemon and herbs, hand rolled pastas with simple sauces, ricotta and spinach dumplings, fritto misto of Louisiana seafood. These are the foods I remember eating all the time Italy and I think people in New Orleans have been missing out on some of these traditional dishes.

Italian cuisine is definitely not at the forefront of the New Orleans food scene. What inspired you to open an Italian restaurant? What will you be offering that visitors and locals can’t find elsewhere?

Italian food has always been my first love when it comes to cooking. When I first started working in restaurants they were all Italian and I learned under some really great chefs. Visitors and locals will be able to experience the foods that you find in small towns and villages throughout Italy. As I traveled through Italy I found the best foods to be in small trattorie and osterie that were run by families and usually had the grandmother at the helm in the kitchen. I made it my mission to study those foods with the intention of bringing it back to new Orleans. We will still have very recognizable foods like lasagne bolognese, but it’s a recipe I learned from the 83 year old grandmother of the chef I worked for in Italy.

What appeals to you, both as a chef and diner, about country Italian food versus a fine dining experience?

I love soaking up juice left on a plate with thick pieces of bread. I love the taste of fresh arugula over a grilled steak after its been sprinkled with a little salt and lemon juice, I love eating the pieces of carrots and celery in the bottom of a casserole dish of braised rabbits, I love the way the oil separates from meat sauce on a plate of hand cut tagliatelle. Need I say more?

Meet and Mingle In Style – The Roosevelt New Orleans Welcomes All to its Grand Ballrooms and Meeting Space

Posted on: February 20th, 2009 by admin No Comments

If the walls of The Roosevelt New Orleans’ ballrooms and meeting spaces could talk, imagine the magnificent tales they would tell.

“Our ballrooms represent the history and grandeur of New Orleans but also present a location with unmatched service and attention to detail,” said Mark Wilson, marketing and sales director at The Roosevelt New Orleans. “We want our guests to indulge themselves, while also envisioning these spaces as luxurious locations for their special events.”

The Roosevelt New Orleans has undergone a $145-million restoration and will feature nearly 60,000 square feet of event and meeting space. This includes three spectacular ballrooms and 23 distinctive meeting and event rooms that span two floors of the hotel. Additionally, the hotel will offer 504 luxurious rooms and 135 elegant suites located steps from the French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.

The Huey P. Long Executive Boardroom, the hotel’s premiere meeting space, has been named for U.S. Senator and Louisiana Governor Huey Long, who used a suite at The Roosevelt as his headquarters in the 1930s and was well-known by all of the hotel’s staff. Stories abound from his tenure at the hotel, including the flamboyant politician’s greeting of the captain of a visiting German ship while dressed in his green silk pajamas. The boardroom features 570 square feet of space and 10-foot ceilings, as well as the newest telephone, audio/visual and touch-screen lighting control technology available.

The Roosevelt Ballroom, the most expansive and glamorous of the three ballrooms, boasts 20,124 square feet of space and a unique feature not previously available in the hotel’s largest meeting space: “air walls” that quickly and seamlessly convert the room into five smaller spaces to accommodate meetings of various sizes, from a small meeting to a lavish, romantic wedding reception that any bride would envy. Gorgeous chandeliers hang from the high ceilings, dripping with crystal and creating soft, shimmering light throughout the room, regardless of its dimension.

The Crescent City Ballroom features 12,204 square feet of space and numerous layout options, including a banquet configuration for up to 700 people, a schoolroom design with tables and chairs for 523 and a theatre style for up to 1,227.

The Waldorf Astoria Ballroom is the ideal location for anything from a romantic, intimate wedding reception to a small to mid-sized conference. The room features 6,776 square feet of space and 14-foot ceilings, as well as the same five-star service available to all guests of The Roosevelt New Orleans.

The Blue Room – legendary with locals, visitors and celebrities – will return to The Roosevelt New Orleans. In the golden era of supper clubs from the 1930s to the 1960s, the Blue Room played host to some of the best-known names in entertainment and big bands – including Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, Marlene Dietrich, and Sonny and Cher – as well as to elaborate floor shows. In addition to hosting Sunday brunch and regular entertainment, the Blue Room again will be available for the most special of special events, including weddings and carnival balls.

Roosevelt Ballroom

Roosevelt Ballroom

New Generations of New Orleanians to be Hosted in World-Famous Blue Room and Legendery Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt New Orleans

Posted on: February 12th, 2009 by admin 13 Comments

NEW ORLEANS – Feb. 10, 2009 – Through more than a century of operation, The Roosevelt New Orleans served as the backdrop for many historic events and often made history in its own right. Key among plans to restore the property to its previous grandeur and appeal will be the reopening of the hotel’s famed Blue Room and legendary Sazerac Bar.

The smell of Eggs Benedict, musical notes from horns and pianos, and the sound of laughter from receptions soon will fill the air at The Roosevelt New Orleans’ world-renowned Blue Room, scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2009.

The Blue Room – legendary with locals, visitors and celebrities – also will return to the Sunday brunch circuit complete with delights such as mascarpone-stuffed French toast with house-made satsuma marmalade, boiled Gulf shrimp, a carving table featuring the finest roasted meats and much more.

Many big-band fans around the world will warmly recall turning to WWL radio at night and hearing the sounds of the Leon Kelner Orchestra, the house band, live from the Blue Room. With gleaming chandeliers and carefully restored architectural details, the renovated Blue Room once again will host live entertainment that appeals to all ages.

“The Blue Room is a household name not just in New Orleans but across the country and even around the globe,” said Mark Wilson, sales and marketing director at The Roosevelt New Orleans. “For decades, the Blue Room was a place for family and friends to enjoy good music and food and to celebrate life’s special occasions. We’re excited to reintroduce this pastime to new generations of New Orleanians and visitors.”

In the golden era of supper clubs from the 1930s to the 1960s, the Blue Room played host to some of the best-known names in entertainment and big bands – including Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, Marlene Dietrich, and Sonny and Cher – as well as to elaborate floor shows.

In addition to hosting Sunday brunch and frequent entertainment, the Blue Room again will be available for the most special of special events, including weddings and carnival balls. For more information about booking the Blue Room for events, contact Earl Lizana, director of catering, at (504) 648-1200 or at

The Sazerac Bar, a Roosevelt landmark for decades, again will serve its signature Sazerac cocktail and Ramos Gin Fizz – both invented in New Orleans and made popular worldwide by The Roosevelt – among other delights. In addition to beverages that stimulate the palate, patrons again will be able to enjoy the Art Deco-style murals by artist Paul Ninas and woodwork once held in awe by visitors.
When The Roosevelt New Orleans reopens, it will offer 504 guest accommodations, of which 135 will be suites, and 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the spacious 20,000-square-foot Roosevelt Ballroom, 12,000-square-foot Crescent City Ballroom and the 7,000-square-foot Waldorf Astoria Ballroom, along with a total of 23 distinctive meeting and event rooms. For more information, visit

Memories of the hotel’s meeting rooms, the Blue Room and the Sazerac Bar can be logged at the hotel’s blog site:

Zagat Includes The Roosevelt New Orleans in its 2009 Guide

Posted on: January 20th, 2009 by admin No Comments

Zagat Survey released the results of its 2009 New Orleans travel survey recently. The guide, in its 20th edition, covers 704 of the city’s finest restaurants, nightspots, attractions and hotels, based on input from 3,877 local consumers.

‘The guide was created to help both visitors and locals rediscover the uniquely rich cultural and culinary assets of New Orleans,’ said Tim Zagat, Zagat Survey CEO. ‘In today’s economy, we’re anticipating an increase in domestic travel, and we encourage Americans to experience what this most distinctive city has to offer.’

In light of the economic storm battering the nation, tourists and locals alike appreciate the fact that New Orleans’ renowned restaurant industry offers one of the lowest average meal costs in the United States: $28.52 vs. the national average of $34.31. Despite the fact that 70% of respondents report spending more per meal compared to two years ago, 41% say they are eating out more often vs. only 17% who say they’re dining less often. New restaurants show the resurgent strength of the city’s dining scene.

Since 28% of surveyors in New Orleans named Creole and Cajun as their favorite cuisines, it is no surprise that Brigtsen’s (Contemp. Louisiana) won Top Food and Top Service, while Commander’s Palace (Creole) was voted Most Popular restaurant (as it has been every time it has been surveyed) and Top Decor to boot. Best Bets for a bite at top value are at Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, Angelo Brocato and Morning Call.

In the three years since Hurricane Katrina, 97% of surveyors report their favorite restaurants are back in business. The French Quarter’s arty Cafe Sbisa and Uptown’s iconic Charlie’s Steak House finally reopened this year to the delight of loyal locals, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House returned to the city proper in fancy new digs at Harrah’s.

Showing the wide variety of cuisine available in New Orleans, there are a wealth of winners by food category, including American, Barbeque, Chinese, Cajun and nearly every region of the world.

Zagat New Orleans 2009 ($12.95), edited by Karen Hudes, Sharon Litwin, Todd A. Price and Mimi Read, is available wherever books are sold, and online at

Interview with Roosevelt New Orleans GM on HotelChatter

Posted on: January 7th, 2009 by admin 2 Comments

HotelChatter has released an exclusive interview with Tod Chambers, general manager of The Roosevelt New Orleans.  The interview includes information on food and drink venues to expect, including a new restaurant by John Besh.

Lobby Centerpiece Revealed

Posted on: November 12th, 2008 by admin 3 Comments


NEW ORLEANS – Nov. 4, 2008 – A monumental, one-of-a-kind clock once featured at the 1867 and 1878 Paris exhibitions has been purchased by The Roosevelt New Orleans for display in the lobby of the hotel following its opening in late spring 2009 as a Waldorf=Astoria Collection hotel.

The hotel expects this antique conical masterpiece, the largest known to exist, to become the centerpiece for the restored grand lobby and a local landmark. The Waldorf=Astoria Collection is a member of the Hilton Family of Hotels.

“This clock is really a gift from The Roosevelt New Orleans to the community,” said general manager Tod Chambers. “It will signal to arriving visitors the luxury that marks all Waldorf=Astoria hotels. It also should serve as a gathering point for locals and could become the preferred romantic spot for wedding proposals. The clock must be wound by hand every eight days, so we even expect that to generate excitement.”

The timepiece was crafted by two of France’s most important artisans of the late 19th century: renowned clock-maker E. Farcot and sculptor Albert Ernest Carrier de Belleuse. Its base, which features the clock’s face and inner mechanical movements, is carved from solid onyx marble. Atop the base, a bronze sculpture depicting a robed female figure holds a scepter. Rotating soundlessly from the female subject’s hand, the scepter provides consistent motion that adds to the clock’s sense of grandeur and mystery.

From its base to the top of the bronze figure, the imposing grand clock stands at nearly 10 feet tall.

Farcot, the most well-known of French conical clock-makers, established himself in 1860 and mastered his craft over a period of 30 years, helping to popularize the unique pendulum escapement, the mechanism which controls the motion of the inner wheels.

Carrier de Belleuse was one of the most important and renowned sculptors of the 19th century, as well as the teacher of Auguste Rodin. In 1857, his bronze sculptures grabbed the attention of Napoleon III, and he was commissioned for several important national works, including his most famous piece, Torchere, which still flanks the staircase of the Paris Opera House.

European exhibitions of the second half of the 19th century were staged as a way to introduce to the public the finest examples of art and science of the day. This timepiece was featured in the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and displayed once more at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. The latter event was part of the third Paris World’s Fair, held to celebrate the recovery of France after the crushing defeat of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. Held on a much larger scale than any previous exhibition in the world, it covered more than 66 acres and attracted 13 million paying visitors.

Every Waldorf=Astoria Collection hotel features a clock with significant historical and artistic merit. “We’re pleased that the city of New Orleans will be the home to one of the grandest yet,” Chambers said. The clock was purchased through M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans.

In order to bear the Waldorf=Astoria Collection name, properties also must have architectural significance, unique décor and original artwork, historic or landmark status, and a reputation for product and service excellence.

When The Roosevelt New Orleans reopens, it will offer 505 guest accommodations, of which 125 will be suites, and 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the spacious 20,000-square-foot Roosevelt Ballroom and the 7,000-square-foot Waldorf=Astoria Ballroom, along with a total of 22 distinctive meeting and event rooms. The historic Roosevelt, first opened as the Grunewald in 1893, once again will feature the famous Blue Room and the Sazerac Bar. For more information, visit