EAT: WILLA JEAN

3/5/2016
By: Molly Kztoak, Ledbury

In the morning I joined celebrated chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White for coffee at their restaurant, Willa Jean, New Orleans was just beginning to enter into the throes of bead-and-glitter Mardi Gras mayhem.

“It’s a party—every day is a party,” Fields laughed. “Sometimes you want to be at the party, sometimes you don’t.”

The duo are no stranger to the fact that Carnival season in the city is a marathon, not a sprint, and one that requires a certain kind of sugary stamina if you’re working in the kitchen. Kelly’s elegant desserts wowed out-of-towners and locals alike for years at John Besh’s Restaurant August, while Lisa’s magical king cakes (the traditional sweet of the season) at another Besh favorite, Domenica, have long been the stuff of magical Mardi Gras legend.

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Where To Drink Coffee In New Orleans Right Now

February 2016
By: Nora McGunnigle and Gwendolyn Knapp, Eater Nola

Coffee is a New Orleans tradition - not only is it drunk in large quantities, but coffee beans flowed the ports here, more than any other city in the country, at one point.

Recently, a bunch of what's known as "third wave" coffee shops have popped up around town, showcasing small batch roasted beans, passionate knowledge, and flawless coffee making technique.
 

Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee actually came down to New Orleans to assist pastry chef Kelly Fields in building the coffee program at this hot new bakery and cafe in the South Market District. There's a legit house blend and coffee cocktail menu too. Milk is sourced locally from Mauthe's Progress Milk Barn.

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The Best Places To Travel in March

February 2016
By: Stephanie Wu, Travel + Leisure

March is when the cold starts to let up and much of the country finally gets signs of warm weather. But if you start planning a trip for the summer months, you’ll hit high season for most destinations. Instead, seek out places you can go now—an ideal combination of warm weather and no crowds.

If you’re looking for a quick jaunt, there are tons of exciting happenings in New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, D.C. All three cities have exciting food scenes, but they each have March-specific attractions as well, from new hotel openings to the famous cherry blossoms.

Wine lovers should head to Portugal, where the Douro River area is in full bloom and you’ll have the vineyards practically to yourself. In Reykjavik, it feels like spring but looks like winter still, due to the snow on the ground—perfect for exploring the beautiful city.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Mardi Gras is over, but that’s perhaps even more of a reason to head to New Orleans now. Stay at the new Roman and Williams-designed Ace Hotel, which opens this month in an Art Deco building dating back to 1928. The hotel will house the first Southern outpost of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, as well as a restaurant from Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman. Given that modern cocktail culture was invented in this city (there are tons of cocktail tours you can go on), it’s no surprise that the bar scene is fantastic. The ideal place to recover is Willa Jean bakery, a bread-centric restaurant that serves breakfast all day and incredible sweets. 

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Look Inside Willa Jean Chef Kelly Fields' Reclaimed Home Kitchen

February 2016
By: Gwendolyn Knapp, Eater Nola
 

In honor of this week's relaunch of Eater sister site Curbed Nola, take a moment to tour James Beard Award pastry chef semifinalist Kelly Field's home kitchen.

Fields has made an indelible mark on New Orleans restaurant industry as Besh Group's executive pastry chef. She is co-founder of the new bakery and cafe Willa Jean. But making incredible desserts is not her only talent— when she purchased her house in Holy Cross two and a half years ago, she actually decided to do the renovations her self.

Fields has sourced wood from the Green Project, Ricca's, and even salvages it from the side of the road, to create a colorful and unique kitchen all her own. She credits her father for getting her into carpentry.

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2016’s best Mardi Gras King Cakes

February 2016
By:iWay

At Willa Jean bakery, pastry chef Lisa White created a king cake that’s filled with bananas, salted caramel and topped with edible gold.  Willa Jean

The long-standing tradition of eating king cake is rooted in Old World Europe, but eventually found its way to America — specifically Southern states and New Orleans, in particular. Celebrating with this dessert has become the sweetest way to usher in Mardi Gras celebrations. The cake, traditionally a braided wreath of cinnamon-laced brioche dough, is adorned with sugared stripes of green, gold and purple. Inside, the king cake can be filled with cream cheese, fruit or even unique takes on savory elements. But all king cakes include the tiny baby tucked inside, said to represent good fortune — and the responsibility of bringing the cake to the next party.Here’s your guide for where to find the best king cake in time for Mardi Gras 2016.

Willa Jean in New Orleans

The recently opened Willa Jean is the brainchild of Besh Restaurant Group’s executive pastry chef Kelly Fields and pastry chef Lisa White. This year’s version of the king cake is created by chef White and is comprised of two dense rings of homemade cake, each filled with sliced bananas, mascarpone filling and salted caramel sauce, then topped with a praline glaze. The final touch is a sprinkling of edible gold. The $45 dessert can be ordered online and picked up in person, and $1 for every cake sold will be donated to the John Besh Foundation, which provides loans and scholarships to up-and-coming chefs in New Orleans.

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