12 Ways Businesses Are Capitalizing On Twelfth Night, Carnival

Balthazar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India bestowed “Magi-stic” gifts upon the infant Jesus on Twelfth Night, which we celebrate Saturday, Jan. 6. In New Orleans, local businesses are using the date to start employing sage and lucrative ways to cash in on Mardi Gras festivals, events, masked balls and king cakes to mark the commencement of Carnival.

The tradition of eating king cakes originated as part of the Feast of the Epiphany, which honors the biblical trek of the Three Wise Men and has also come to mark the official beginning of the Mardi Gras season.

Executive Pastry Chef Maggie Scales of the Link Restaurant Group will be offering several heavenly flavors and sizes of king cakes at both Cochon Butcher, 930 Tchoupitoulas St., and La Boulangerie, 4600 Magazine St., this year.

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Chef Scales’ traditional-style king cakes, made from brioche dough and adorned with sprinkled sugar, come in both 6” and 9” sizes and are filled with cinnamon, strawberry almond and chocolate brownie, and her savory-style, soft pretzel king cake is topped with purple, green and gold salt and served with a side of whole grain mustard. Her popular Elvis king cake is filled with peanut butter and banana and is topped with house-cured bacon, marshmallow and Mardi Gras sprinkles. The Elvis will be sold daily by the slice or as a large special order cake.

Instead of finding a small plastic “Baby Jesus” inside the collection of king cakes, expect to bite down on a petite pink pig figurine.

La Boulangerie will also be serving traditional French Galettes des Rois, which are two rounds of puff pastry filled with almond cream topped with a small porcelain trinket sold in 8” and 10” sizes.

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King Cake hogs are sure to appreciate Link Restaurant Group’s delicacies, each with a petite pink pig inside.


The Link Restaurant Group’s chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski created the Link Stryjewski Foundation to help nourish, educate and empower the youth of New Orleans.

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On Saturday, Jan. 20, the foundation’s Bal Masqué, will be held at the Sugar Mill, 1021 Convention Center Blvd., and feature food and drink from top chefs and mixologists who have 17 James Beard awards between them, and entertainment by RAM, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Cha Wa and The Roots of Music. An exclusive Chefs' Dinner with host Chef Nancy Oakes, from San Francisco’s Boulevard and Prospect Restaurant, will take place the evening before Bal Masqué on Friday, Jan. 19.

General admission tickets, reserved seats and tables of 10 are available. All proceeds from both events support the Link Stryjewski Foundation’s mission.

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Carnival Kickoff at Pizza Nola, 141 W. Harrison Ave., means the return of Dong Phuong king cakes on Saturday, Jan. 6, available in plain, cream cheese and pecan flavors.

“This is the third year that we have celebrated the start of King Cake season with our Carnival Kickoff event,” said Will Samuels, co-owner of Lakeview’s Pizza Nola. “What better way to start Carnival than by celebrating the arrival of king cake.”

Morning events, from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., will include live music from Benny Grunch and the Bunch, breakfasts from BAWK, coffee from Coast Roast, a king cake “procession” that starts at 8:15 a.m., and a special appearance by television and theater personality Professor Carl Nivale, a Carnival fixture on WWL-TV for the past 22 years, who will ceremoniously cut the first slice of king cake at 8:20 a.m.

Pizza Nola will have king cakes from Dong Phuong delivered daily (except Tuesdays), and cakes will be available for pre-order and pick-up at the restaurant as well as via delivery throughout the restaurant’s normal delivery area.

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Ochsner Hospital for Children’s fifth annual King Cake Festival will take place on Sunday, Jan. 28, at Champions Square, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. More than two dozen bakeries across the region will serve unique and traditional king cakes. Last year, more than 17,000 attendees feasted on more than 25 varieties of king cakes ranging from traditional cinnamon to decadent bananas Foster renditions.

“Ochsner Hospital for Children has been overwhelmed by the support and interest in the King Cake Festival, and our fifth year is sure to be bigger and better than ever,” said Thomas Harris, Jr., vice president of pediatrics at Ochsner Health System. “This event offers the community a family-friendly Carnival celebration and supports our efforts to care for children across the Gulf South.”

The Carnival-themed festival will also host a Gladiator Rep Run & Fun Run presented by Smoothie King, a Kids’ Zone and live music.

The festival is free and open to the public, with food tickets, merchandise and VIP experience passes available for sale.

New for the 2018 festival, attendees can join the “I Got The Baby Club,” which includes two VIP passes, two Kids’ Zone passes, 20 tasting tickets and a mention on the King Cake Festival website as a member of the club. Kid’s passes include admission to the Kids’ Zone, plus VIP room access.

Last year, $200,000 was raised at the King Cake Festival to benefit Ochsner Hospital for Children.

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NOLA Boards, 519 Wilkinson St., a homegrown, handcrafted cutting board, countertop and custom furniture business, is selling a classic Carnival board made of Purple Heart, Yellow Heart and Sinker Cypress wood.

Used for a serving board for your king cake, or for an everyday cutting board, the Carnival board is made to order and each one is unique due to variances in the wood. No stains or dyes are used in making this 12”x 18”x 3/4” cutting board, just all natural wood that brings out the colors of Mardi Gras.

Mandy Simpson and her husband Daren Sumrow of New Orleans Woodworking teamed up in 2014 to create these one-of-a-kind pieces of functional art and a variety of domestic and exotic hardwoods are used to make their products. After each cutting board is sanded to a smooth finish it is soaked with a food-grade mineral oil to condition the wood to bring out its rich colors and unique wood grain. To complete the process, a combination of mineral oil and beeswax made by Fleur de Bees is added to seal the wood.

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NOLA Board’s Carnival Board


The Bombay Club, 830 Conti St., will serve the Legendre Ojen Cocktail with a traditional French fève (the porcelain trinket traditionally placed in the king cake) this Mardi Gras season.

An iconic liqueur flavored with anise, Legendre Ojen is a beloved unofficial Carnival krewe drink, and the drink used to toast King of Carnival on Mardi Gras Day.

“Ojen had gained popularity in New Orleans at the beginning of the last century, and over time had become the standby cocktail, especially during Carnival season,” said Executive Chef Phillip Todd. “In fact, some believed that New Orleans’ consumption of Ojen surpassed that of all of Spain [where it was first produced in the mid-1800s], and considering that New Orleanians like a good drink every now and then, I’d believe it.”

The Sazerac Company revived the classic cocktail with a new production in the U.S. in early 2016.

The Bombay Club fèves are musically-themed figurines, and a full collection makes up a ten-piece jazz band. “We just thought this was a fun way to celebrate our favorite holiday in New Orleans,” said Todd. “If you get all 10, it’s a great collection, and it’s a unique souvenir by which to remember Carnival 2018.”


The Bombay Club’s Ojen Cocktail recipe:

  • 2 ounces Legendre Ojen
  • 7 dashes Peychaud's bitters 
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat or simple 

Method: Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice. Pour Ojen over the ice and add four dashes of Peychaud's bitters, then swizzle. Fill with more crushed ice and top with three more dashes of Peychaud's. Swizzle until the glass frosts.

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Each Bombay Club’s Legendre Ojen Cocktail comes with a collectable jazz band figurine.


The indoor/outdoor Marley Gras Jerk Chicken Festival, presented by Power 102.9 FM and NOLA Brewing Co., takes place Saturday Jan. 20, at Central City BBQ, 1201 S. Rampart St., from 1:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

A funky fusion of Jamaican musical and culinary traditions and the rich culture of New Orleans Carnival, this festival celebrates its sophomore year with music, food, dance, celebrity guests and vendors blending reggae with brass and bounce music, jerk chicken with ya-ka-mein and gumbo, and handmade arts and crafts from New Orleans and Jamaica.

The festival will also host New Orleans’ only Scotch Bonnet pepper eating contest and Jerk Chicken Cook-Off Competition with celebrity guest judges.

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The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) will explore the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans with an exhibition in the Williams Residence, a guided tour, a headdress workshop and lectures about the Baby Dolls and gay Carnival.


  • “Mardi Gras at Home at the Williams Residence”

Wednesday, Jan. 10 – Sunday, Feb. 25

533 Royal St.

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Admission is free.

The home of THNOC’s founders General and Mrs. L. Kemper Williams will be open for self-guided tours for visitors to view its mid-20th century design and Mardi Gras traditions. Photographs, favors and ephemera from the Williams’ personal Carnival collection will be on display throughout the house, including Carnival royalty crown jewels, costumes and ball invitations.

THNOC’s annual Mardi Gras guided tours, “Rites, Rituals, Revelry,” will take place from Wednesday, Jan. 10 – Thursday, Feb. 8, at 11:00 a.m., Tuesdays through Sundays.


  • “The History of the Baby Dolls,” a lecture by Dianne Honoré

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St.

Admission is free.

Dianne Honoré, founder of the Black Storyville Baby Dolls, will present a lecture on the history and culture of the New Orleans Baby Dolls tradition. Honoré’s group continues a masking tradition started in about 1912 in Black Storyville, an unofficial area just outside of the city’s infamous, legal red-light district. Her presentation will include on-site examples of Baby Dolls costumes.


  • Mardi Gras headdress workshop with Ellen Macomber

Saturday, Jan. 20, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Ice House Classroom, 610 Toulouse St.

Admission is $65 and participation is limited.

Fine art and textile artist Ellen Macomber will conduct a Mardi Gras headdress workshop where participants will leave with their own creations. Admission includes materials, work station and tools. Light refreshments will be served.


  • “Unveiling the Muse: The Lost History of Gay Carnival in New Orleans” presentation and book signing

Wednesday, Jan. 31, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St.

Admission is free.

Author Howard Philips Smith will discuss his new book that showcases gay Carnival krewes and the role of gay Carnival within the larger context of the season.

After his presentation, Smith will be available to sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase for $50.


All THNOC properties will be closed Saturday, Feb. 10 – Tuesday, Feb. 13 for Mardi Gras.

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