Gerard Maras, though not a native of New Orleans or even Louisiana is a well known figure in the recent culinary history of this food-loving culture.Coming to New Orleans in 1983, via Commanders Palace and restaurant “matriarch” Ella Brennan, Gerard would find his new home. Prior to his arrival, he had been schooled in French Classical cooking in New York and Palm Beach Florida. New Orleans seemed a strange new land, with a culture unlike any he has seen. The food, he soon realized was reveled and held sacred to the proud people of this city and state… “They lived, they ate, they drank in a constant celebration…but most of all they ate”. Food is the nucleus and driving force of this land.
Gerard soon moved from Commanders Palace to Ella’s new Bistro in the French Quarter, put at the helm of a premiere new concept for the city, Mr. B’s Bistro. He quickly discovered the passion his clientele had for food and the bounty of beautiful fresh produce and seafood that was available to him. Along with the then ‘New Garde’ of chefs, Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Susan Spicer, Frank Frank Brigtsen and Jamie Shannon, Gerard began networking with farmers and fishermen to bring these products into his restaurant, long before the farmers markets and “farm-to-table” surge had begun. It was this that shaped his food style and career. The freshest product, simply prepared.
For 15 years Gerard ran the brigade of cooks and chefs at Mr. B’s, teaching technique and inspiring them in his passion for fresh product. Many of these young cooks are now the owners and chefs of some of New Orleans finest eating establishments. Gerard opened Gerard’s Downtown, earning accolades both locally and nationally, rated one of the top 15 new American restaurants, by Travel and Leisure its first year and several other awards and favorable articles from media across the country.
In 1993 Gerard bought a farm in Franklinton Louisiana and started growing some of his own produce for his kitchen, fresh farm eggs for baking, micro greens for salads, baby brussel sprouts, peppers,and a variety of product that would enhance his menu. He still uses these products in his catering and private cooking classes because freshness is the key ingredient to truly wonderful food.
Today Gerard teaches private classes at the New Orleans Cooking Experience in New Orleans as well as bringing his expertise into the homes of “foodies” for private classes. His catering of weddings, parties and special events is unsurpassed. Private dinners with menus created by the chef and host are truly special. Whether you are hosting a dinner party, a wedding or just want to learn new recipes and techniques, bringing this esteemed chef into your kitchen adds that personal touch to a memorable evening.