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Rosa Keller Library (5:00-9:00 PM)
My House NOLA presents a rolling food vendor mini festival
Maple Leaf (8:00PM)
Feel the Mardi Gras Indian beat with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
Rebirth Brass Band
Crescent City Farmers Market
Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns
The Antenna Gallery (7:00 PM)
A series of music-themed movies and documentaries, curated and hosted by DJ Soul Sister, and co-presented by Charitable Film Network, Press Street, and WWOZ
Jewish Community Center (7:30 PM)
The second evening of a chamber music festival that has something for classical aficionados and dilettantes alike
Circle Bar (10:00 PM)
Catch the Indie rockers on their North American tour
Hurry Up and Wait
French Market Waiters Race Puts Crescent City Twist on l'Hexagone Tradition
The dueling barges have had their say. This weekend, it's time to give locals a chance to get in touch with their far-removed French roots.
Sure, a lot of us in New Orleans have French last names, and some of us even pronounce them correctly. However, few locals actively participate in French language or culture, and New Orleans' Franco friends are trying to change that. The French Consulate, Alliance Francaise, and the Council of French Societies have planned a weekend full of activities for French National Day. One of the quirkiest on the agenda is the annual waiter’s and bartender’s race.
On Sunday from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m., The French Market District, Tales of the Cocktail, and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will bring this French tradition to La Nouvelle Orleans. It’s their third year in a row, and this year they’re doing it with a local twist. The race began in France in the 1930’s as a way to honor the work of their servers, and it continued with waiters exclusively. Since so much of the New Orleans hospitality industry is centered on liquid culinary creations, The French Market District decided to include bartenders in the race, as well.
The races don’t begin until 4pm, but onlookers should show up early to dance like everyone's watching and brush up on their mixologist skills. At 2 p.m., organizers will host a cocktail-making demonstration and conversation. From 2:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m., there will be live French music performed by the Gypsy Swing Club.
We spoke with Amy Kirk from The French Market, and she said that the only requirement is that registered racers wear their uniforms and show up by 3:15 to get a rundown on the rules. Everything else such as trays, cocktails, and pastries will be provided. Bartenders will be toting Herbsaint’s Julep Cocktails and waiters will hold Napoleon pastries from Chez Pierre Bakery and Café. Kirk said that participants usually take the racing aspect pretty seriously, which makes sense considering their potential payoff. First place prize is $150 cash, second place winner gets $100, and third place $50.
“It’s fast and furious," Kirk said. "The first year we did it, I was on foot. I had no idea how fast it would be. I have a golf cart this year.”
Kirk said that the race usually only takes about seven minutes. Although there’s no running allowed, the speed walkers are used to getting from A to B in a jiffy and making it look effortless. Despite the rush, those in the crowd will find time to laugh at the whole event.
“It’s hilarious. They’re so intense, they’re concentrating on not spilling, on not running. There’s people yelling at them,” Kirk said.
Kirk says that humor is a big part of what makes the race so appealing and sets it apart from waiter’s races in other cities.
“We’re adding some funny things this year," she said. "When you see some of these in other cities, they’re fairly formal. We have mimes and French maids. We have Napoleon and Marie Antoinette starting the races.”
The two historical figures are required to be donned in their finest attire from the waist up, but they are encouraged to wear jogging shorts below their corsets and wigs.
We spoke with one of this year’s waiters, Chad Boutte of Saints and Sinners, about what makes this race important to the participants.
“It’s a way for waiters to get out of that role of server and participate in something fun,” Boutte said. “The race in general is to take that waiter and actually make him a human. It’s amazing how many times in a restaurant customers totally void out this person.”
Boutte wants to see waiters and bartenders get credit for the parts of themselves they don’t usually get to show off when they’re in their aprons and bowties.
“A lot of these servers are brilliant, outgoing people, but our job is to quietly be behind the scenes,” he said.
Registration closes tomorrow at midnight, and there are still spots to fill for waiters and bartenders. Kirk was very clear that despite the name, the race is open to Orleans Parish workers, not just the ones in the Quarter.
Those interested in participating should e-mail email@example.com with your name, restaurant and bar where you work, and contact information (email address and cell phone number).
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