Carrolls take Louisiana cuisine to James Beard House

Cody and Samantha Carroll inside their New Orleans restaurant Sac-a-Lait. Photo courtesy of Samantha Carroll

By Amanda Capritto

Just five years ago, young culinary sensations Cody and Samantha Carroll wooed the Capital Region with Hot Tails in New Roads. The upbeat restaurant serving spicy Southern cuisine drew rave reviews and statewide recognition.

And the recognition hasn’t stopped.

The couple was invited by The James Beard Foundation to cook this fall at the James Beard House in New York City just one week after opening their second restaurant, Sac-a-Lait, in New Orleans in March.

At just 25 years old, Samantha will be the youngest female chef ever to cook at the James Beard House, and together, they are one of the youngest couples ever invited.

The high-profile dinners are meant to highlight up-and-coming chefs from across the country. More than 80 Louisiana chefs have participated since the dinners started in the late ’80s, but only a handful have hailed from the Capital Region.

“Baton Rouge kind of gets overlooked because the whole country sees New Orleans as Louisiana’s food capital,” Cody, a Baton Rouge native, says. “I’m glad we were able to bring some of that excitement to the Baton Rouge area with Hot Tails.”

The pair is scheduled to cook at the James Beard House Oct. 1. Cody says the dinner in New York won’t be any different than a dinner he’d make here.

“The goal is to show them real Louisiana food. We’re shipping ingredients we’d always use—local ingredients—up there, and we’re bringing our chefs so we can show them how we cook down here in Louisiana,” Cody says.

Though they don’t have the menu entirely planned out yet, Cody and Samantha say it will consist of fall vegetables like squash as well as seasonal seafood.

The couple agrees that the ultimate goal is to eventually win one of the annual James Beard Awards, but just being invited to cook there is an immense honor.

“We’re just happy to be recognized, and we’re happy our style of food is being recognized,” Samantha says.

More information: jamesbeard.org