South Louisiana is one of the true food capitals of the world, known for both its Creole and Cajun fare, and, more recently, it s contemporary twist on classic southern dishes. And though New Orleans often gets top billing for its famous restaurants and innovative chefs, Baton Rouge has a growing food scene that is vibrant and exciting in its own right. In fact, Baton Rouge is home to the school that trains many of the chefs that go on to top restaurants around the state and, around the country. The Louisiana Culinary Institute was founded in 2003 and in the 13 years since has graduated more than 1 thousand students, awarding degrees in culinary arts and culinary management, with concentrations in advanced baking and pastry and advanced culinary arts. Charlie Ruffolo is the public affairs manager for LCI a native of Chicago who grew up working in the family s produce business and married into a family who launched a cooking school. While a culinary degree and a career in the restaurant or hospitality industry is the path many foodies choose, others take a more entrepreneurial approach, using multiple platforms to promote recipes and products. Such is the case with Lili Courtney. Lili is the founder of Delightful Palate, a Baton Rouge company whose salad dressings have found their way onto the shelves of stores like Whole Foods across the South. You can also find Lili teaching cooking classes and leading character builder kitchen adventures for corporations under the rubric Team Cooking. We often hear that one of the first rules of entrepreneurship is to make sure your product solves a problem for a consumer. At first glance Aquiem Coffee Water packaged water treated specifically to enhance the taste of coffee or tea seems to break this cardinal rule. It is hard to imagine too many people have been sitting around dreaming of the day they could go out and buy special water to make coffeeh. But rules are meant to be broken. Co founder of Aquiem Coffee water, Mitzi Barber, reports that 30 days into launching their new product business is already booming in Baton Rouge. Photos at Mansurs on the Boulevard by Ken Stewart.
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