“New Orleans has been a culinary leader for three hundred years, and we can’t stop now,” says Ti Martin, co-proprietor of Commander’s Palace and a member of one of the greatest restaurant dynasties in America. “But we were a little like a gap-toothed kid. We were missing something.” The New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI), which she cofounded, aims to fill the void. The best part, according to Martin: “We get to eat our homework.”
Six years in the making, the ninety-three-thousand- square-foot facility fast-tracks aspiring chefs and restaurateurs on the way to their food-and-bev-industry dreams. NOCHI’s abbreviated course structure awards culinary and baking and pastry arts certificates for $15,000—a more approachable tuition than that of many two-year institutes.
Even for home cooks, NOCHI is a wish granted. The institute, located on Howard Avenue in the Central Business District, hosts book signings and events, and enthusiast courses let wannabe Emerils in the door. “Locals were demanding access,” Martin says. Not to mention tourists. “The number-one thing people want to do when they come to New Orleans is take a cooking class,” she adds.
Upcoming events to note: cookbook signings with chefs Sean Brock (October 17) and Justin Devillier (October 29) and a desserts course with pastry chef Bronwen Wyatt, who has concocted the sweets at such beloved New Orleans spots as Bacchanal and the Elysian Bar. In November, Melissa Martin of the charming Mosquito Supper Club will host a course on holiday baking. More upcoming events and courses can be found here.