New Orleans Wine & Food Experience to Honor Donald Link

Thumbnail Donald LinkNEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has announced that the 2024 Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award will be presented to chef and restaurateur Donald Link. The gala celebration will take place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 25 at the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans.

“Chef Link will be honored for his long standing stewardship of our culinary culture and heritage, his celebration and cultivation of the remarkable bounty of growers, farmers and fishermen in southern Louisiana, and his guiding inspiration of future generations of chefs,” said Aimee Brown, NOWFE executive director, in a press release.

Inspired by the Cajun and Southern cooking of his grandparents, Link began his professional cooking career at 15 years old. He has peppered the streets of the Warehouse District with a collection of award-winning restaurants, including Herbsaint, Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Calcasieu, Pêche Seafood Grill, La Boulangerie, Gianna and Chemin in the Four Seasons Hotel. Herbsaint earned Chef Link a James Beard award in 2007 for Best Chef South. The same year, Cochon was nominated for Best New Restaurant. The James Beard Foundation has also nominated Chef Link for the prestigious award of Outstanding Chef for multiple years. Pêche Seafood Grill was awarded Best New Restaurant at the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards. Gianna was honored to be named a James Beard Award Nominee for Best New Restaurant 2019. Gourmet Magazine listed Herbsaint as one of the top 50 restaurants in America and was inducted into the Nation’s Restaurant News Hall of Fame. Cochon was listed in The New York Times as “one of the top 3 restaurants that count” and named one of the 20 most important restaurants in America by Bon Appétit. For his commitment to the industry, the Louisiana Restaurant Association honored Link by naming him Restaurateur of the Year in 2012.            

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The James Beard Foundation also honored Link’s first cookbook – Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana (Clarkson Potter) with its top award for Best American Cookbook. Released in 2009, Real Cajun is a collection of family recipes that Link has honed and perfected while honoring the authenticity of the Cajun people. In February 2014, Link celebrated the release of his second cookbook Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything (Clarkson-Potter), which looks beyond New Orleans and Louisiana at dishes in nearby states.

The Ella Brennan Award recognizes one individual each year that has made a lifetime commitment to the hospitality industry through extraordinary leadership, personal and professional accomplishments, and philanthropic contributions to the community. The Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award is named for restaurateur legend Ella Brennan. Her deep passion and commitment have made a significant and longstanding impact on the New Orleans hospitality industry. The award’s past recipients include Chef Paul Prudhomme, philanthropist Bill Goldring, Chef Leah Chase, restaurateurs Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, Audubon leader Ron Forman, local restaurateur Ralph Brennan, celebrity chef and philanthropist Emeril Lagasse, tourism industry icon Mark Romig, Chef Frank Brigtsen, and Chef Susan Spicer. In 2021, NOWFE presented the Ella Brennan “Stand Up for Your Hometown Award” to recipients who exhibited unwavering love and extended an extraordinary response to support the New Orleans community during the pandemic. Those recipients included Al Copeland, Jr., Phil Moseley and Ronnie Evans, Robert Peyton and Troy Gilbert, Zeid and Marv Ammari, Erich and Jennifer Weishaupt, Devin De Wulf, Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski, Jennifer Kelley Killian, Lauren Darnell, Melvin Rodrigue, Zach Strief, Charles Armstrong, and Isaac and Amanda Toups.

Tickets to the event are available at nowfe.com. VIP tables for 10 are available for $2,500 and include access to the VIP reception from 6 – 7 p.m. and a plated meal at the Award Gala. Complimentary bottles of wine and access to multiple bars are also included. Single a la carte tickets are available for $175 per person or $1,500 per table of 10. VIP a la carte tickets may be purchased for $275 and include the VIP reception. Proceeds from the awards gala benefit the many local non-profit organizations NOWFE supports throughout the year. 

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