The Hungry Neko Food Festival, a celebration of Asian culture, was held on Nov. 5 at Party Beer Co. in L.A.’s Jefferson Park neighborhood.

The organizer was Keiko Nakashima, owner of Sunny Blue, which specializes in handcrafted omusubi and has stores in Culver City and Santa Monica.

Vendors included Okayama Bakery, The Plant Lab, Rakkan Ramen, Torisho, Buttery Popcorn, Kumamoto Ice, Shoshi Watanabe, Kenzo Illustrations, Asian Boba Girl, Mume Farm and The Paper Donut Shop.

There was a raffle for prizes that included a Sunny Blue gift card, Hungry Neko swag and a rice cooker.

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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Recognition for hospitality sector pros usually comes from outside, be it from the media, some Internet accolade or a people’s choice award. This week, the Louisiana Restaurant Association brought back its own awards, and these are different because they come from peers in the business honoring their own.

Many New Orleans names are in the forefront for these awards, which were announced this week during a dinner at Juban’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge.

Here are the winners:

Restaurateurs of the Year

Emery Whalen and Chef Brian Landry, founders of QED Hospitality

The two business partners run the restaurants and bars

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The fate of chef Emeril Lagasse’s French Quarter restaurant NOLA has been one of the lingering question marks in New Orleans dining through the pandemic. The restaurant, in business for nearly 30 years, has been closed since March 2020 when all restaurants were ordered to suspend indoor dining.

Now a different local restaurant company has leased NOLA’s building, at 534 St. Louis St., and plans to quickly develop a new restaurant in its place.


First opened in 1992, NOLA Restaurant from chef Emeril Lagasse got a new design and menu overhaul in 2017, shown here that year.  (Staff photo by

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The daily work of the Made in New Orleans Foundation is about building racial equity in the local hospitality sector. Now, a wide-ranging slice of that sector is coming together to support its work through a week-long fundraiser, and they’re inviting the public to do the same just by going out for a meal.

MiNO, as the nonprofit is known, is bringing back its Pass the Peas Week, Nov. 5-11, as a citywide event held at many different restaurants and bars, including a special community dinner led by a rising star of modern New Orleans hospitality.

Cobia topped with crabmeat

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Long before Cajun cooking became a global phenomenon, the Bon Ton restaurant was a beloved destination for these flavors in downtown New Orleans. The restaurant’s history reached back further, to 19th century New Orleans, and it was an enduring part of the local restaurant scene.

When its longtime owners, the Pierce family, decided to retire, they lined up a buyer with plans to continue the restaurant. They hosted their regulars for heartfelt, sometimes tearful farewells over crawfish étouffée and strong rum Ramsey cocktails. And then they closed the doors.


Bon Ton Cafe owners Debbie and Wayne Pierce talk restaurant business

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Wasting food is something all of us should avoid. It is extremely vital to teach young children the importance of having the privilege of eating all three meals. In order to pass on the same message to his students, a school principal from central China is opting to walk the talk. 

Wang Yongxin, head of a private secondary school in Oiyang, Hunan province is apparently eating students’ leftovers from the school cafeteria to warn them against food waste. 


A video of the incident showed Mr Wang standing near the cafeteria dustbin and stopping students from discarding their meals, and

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