Village Café's Conner, Link's Peche in culinary spotlight

by Kari Walker

Louisiana Cookin' magazine names VC's Jeremy Conner among its Chefs to Watch, while James Beard bestows high praise on Acadiana native Donald Link.

Jeremy Conner, a 2014 Louisiana Cookin' Chef to Watch, works beyond the kitchen at Hogs for the Cause, an annual fundraiser in New Orleans.

Louisiana Cookin' magazine named its 2014 Chefs to Watch - those it says are taking Cajun and Creole traditions to the next level - and there is a familiar face in the talented group. Jeremy Conner of Village Café in River Ranch makes the cut this year, along with Cody Carrol of Hot Tails Crawfish House in New Roads and a list of top New Orleans movers and shakers, including Ryan Prewitt of Peche Seafood Grill (a concept founded by Rayne area native Donald Link), Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery (Toups is also a Rayne native), Lisa White of Domenica and Nathanial Zimet of Boucherie.

That's some damn good company to be in.

Louisiana Cookin' is a bi-monthly national publication dedicated to Louisiana culture, cuisine and tourism.

In other culinary news, the James Beard Foundation named its recipients of this year's prestigious awards. It was a home run for New Orleans with Peche Seafood Grill named Best New Restaurant along with Peche's chef and co-owner Ryan Prewitt named Best Chef: South in a tie with Sue Zemanick also of New Orleans. Zemanick is the force behind Gautreau's and Ivy.

The James Beard Awards are considered the highest honor around for American restaurants, chefs and the culinary world. New Orleans' Peche beat out nominees from New York City and San Francisco for Best New Restaurant.

Peche opened in spring 2013 and is the first restaurant in New Orleans to ever take home the title of Best New Restaurant from the James Beard Foundation. Peche is co-owned by Donald Link, a former Best Chef: South recipient known for his other successful restaurants that are part of the Link Restaurant Group - Herbsaint, Cochon and Cochon Butcher in New Orleans.

Link, who was born in the community of Robert's Cove near Rayne and raised in Lake Charles, was also the man behind Cochon's short-lived Lafayette location in River Ranch where Ruffino's on the River now stands.

He could not have rebounded with a more resounding success than Peche, located in New Orleans' Warehouse District.