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Rodrigue Foundation’s contest lets students show culinary art as ‘art’

7th January 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

When it comes to Louisiana cuisine, the plate isn’t the only canvas used to create a possible masterpiece.

The George Rodrigue Found­ation of the Arts is partnering with the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foun­dation to publish a cookbook, which will feature some of the state’s most celebrated culinary dishes, illustrated by some of Louisiana’s aspiring artists.

High school students in the state will compete in an art contest for individual college scholarships and awards totaling $45,000.

The 4th annual contest’s theme is “Louisiana’s Culinary Heri­tage” and winning artwork will be used in a new cookbook published by (GRFA) and (LRAEF). The annual art contest offers one-time college scholarships and awards to the top ten senior and top five junior winners. The top winner will receive a $6,000 college scholarship. Since 2009, the GRFA has received well over a thousand entries from 125 cities across Louisiana, awarding 52 students a combined $130,000 in college scholarships. All Loui­siana high school juniors and seniors are eligible, regardless of test scores, grade point averages or declared majors.

“Louisiana is an international culinary melting pot,” says George Rodrigue, noted Cajun artist of “Blue Dog” fame. “For centuries our food reflects a cultural history of adventurous cuisine. Uniquely, Louisiana yields seafood, wild game and produce, providing home cooks and chefs with a wide variety of fresh local ingredients. These indigenous resources complement Louisi­ana’s cultural ‘gumbo’ of French, Spanish, African, Italian and German flavors; influencing the food we ‘live to eat.’ Our beloved Creole and Cajun culinary traditions encourage a vibrant restaurant industry, impacting our state’s economy with jobs and tourism. We invite Louisiana’s high school juniors and seniors to create a work of art representing our state’s unique culinary heritage while honoring its festivals, dishes and local ingredients.”

“We were thrilled to—one, be able to partner with such a terrific foundation like the George Rodrigue Foundation, and two—to talk about the culinary arts as ‘art’, and be able highlight the great work that our students here in Louisiana are doing,” Alice Glenn, Executive Director of the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation, said.

A blind, two-part judging process focuses on three categories: interpretation of theme, creativity and design. GRFA requires that submissions be two-dimensional; between 11 x 14 and 18 x 24 inches. Acceptable mediums include oil or acrylic paint, charcoal, pencil or graphite, watercolor, photography, mixed media or digital media.

“We’ll take the finalists’ artwork and match them with recipes from our member chefs and restaurants from around the state to create the cookbook, which will be available for sale in the fall of this year.” Glenn says.

Proceeds of cookbook sales will benefit both the GRFA and LRAEF programs.

“We’ve done this four years and the contest and it gets bigger every year,” Jacques Rodrigue, GRFA Executive Director says. “This contest has taken a life of its own and its going to grow.”

On March 23, the GRFA will host a reception at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel; in which the finalists will be announced.

“We just encourage students to do something that they love about Louisiana; maybe it’s a family meal they grew up with, a crayfish boil-anything that’s typically Louisiana; involving food,” Jacques Rodrigue says. “We’d love to see what they can do. It’s up to the students to show what Louisiana culinary art really means to them.”

A junior from Lafayette won the 2012 contest, which was themed Louisiana’s Bi-centennial. Ac­cording to the GRFA, The winner actually designed the official poster for the state’s bi-centennial celebration.

The GRFA also keeps track of the students as they enter college.

“These are students that normally wouldn’t have a chance to go to college, so it’s just a great thing for kids that builds their self confidence and helps them realize they can succeed in whatever they do.” Jacques Rodrigue states.

Students can access applications at www.rodrigue­founda­­/art­contest and the deadline for entries is February 20, 2013.

This article was originally published in the January 7, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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