Chef Moses has a surefire way to ensure everything he cooks brims with the best ingredients and flavors—he imagines it's for his mother. The veteran chef cooked his first meal, which was a steak dinner, for his mom at the age of 10 before eventually going on to train at the Culinary Institute of New Orleans. The burgeoning cook then honed his skills by working under renowned chefs Emeril Laggasse and Paul Prudhomme at their respective restaurants.
Today, the now-seasoned chef creates his own signature dishes—such as a crawfish bisque and pasta jambalaya—that blend old family recipes with his own unique additions, earning himself features in Louisiana Cooking Magazine and on WWL-TV News. All the while, he cooks with a firm grasp on the differences between Cajun and Creole cooking, which mostly come down to the spice level, origin, and astrological sign of Cajun and Creole shrimp. In addition to using catering trays as his canvases, he showcases his culinary talents during classes that teach novice chefs how to prepare their own restaurant-quality meals.
Inside The Afghan Grill's warm-hued dining room, the aromas of authentic Afghan specialties swirl and waft up from dishes plated in kaleidoscopes of color. Nosh skewered morsels of charbroiled chicken breast and grilled vegetables off kebabs ($16.95) one mouthful at a time. In the sabzi chalao, one of a flavorful stable of entrees, spinach is slowly simmered with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and peppers ($16.95), and can be bolstered with an edible entourage of lamb ($1 extra). Chefs steam beef dumplings before coating them with garlic yogurt and vegetable sauce in the mantoo ($17.95), a dish that can be ordered to fill growling people bellies or loaded into wide-barreled paintball guns and shot into the bills of ravenous pterodactyls.
The Jerk Pit’s white wood siding and covered porch might lead folks to think they’re stepping into owner Lisa Waddell Rose’s own house—and that’s likely what she intended. The chefs apply spicy blends of seasonings to transform morsels of chicken, pork, fish, and tofu into traditional Jamaican jerk dishes, served alongside other staples such as curried goat and ackee with saltfish. While sipping on Jamaican soda or sweet iced tea, patrons can utilize the Pit’s free WiFi to download sounds of crashing waves or pictures of the Caribbean's blueberry-flavored waters.
Although homemade prepared meals are the main business at Vignola Gourmet, the chefs also roll out Italian arancini rice balls stuffed with cheese and peas, stack hearty sub sandwiches, and twirl pasta with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. The hand-lettered chalkboard sign keeps track of the kitchen's other recipes, such as classic caprese subs with mozzarella and tomato, as well as tortellini salad and meatballs served à la carte.
It starts with dough made from scratch each day. Chefs continue the pizza-making process by ladling on sauce made in house from freshly peeled Italian tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Whole-milk mozzarella then melts around gyro meat, eggplant, sausage, and other toppings in the rippling heat of an oven. Washington Deli’s owners supervise the entire process, drawing on pizza expertise accumulated during formative years spent in New York. Their workers rush from the kitchen, carrying paninis, boxed lunches, and platters—including vegan and gluten-free options—to fuel workplace parties or collapse the flimsy tables of rival offices.