The culinary arts of Bryan Poche

The final dinner in the Hammond Regional Arts Center's "Culinary Arts Series" will feature the culinary expertise of Bryan Poche, owner of Fine Thyme Catering. It will be Poche's first time participating in CAS. Zachary Araki/ The Lion's Roar

The “Culinary Arts Series” will end at the Hammond Regional Arts Center with the culinary skills of Bryan Poche, chef and owner of Fine Thyme Catering.

The “Culinary Arts Series Comes Home to HRAC” dinner will be held Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. The venue for this dinner has changed from the usual Alack Culinary Equipment and Superstore to the HRAC. This is Poche’s first time participating in the “Culinary Arts Series.”

“We’re excited about it,” said Poche. “We’ve been in business for five years and always looking to do things in the community, especially the Hammond Regional Arts Center. Downtown Hammond, I think, is an important part of this community. We’re happy to be a part of it.”




The dinner is the last in this CAS season. The season as a whole has been successful.

“We are thrilled with the success of HRAC’s 20th annual ‘Culinary Arts Series,’” said HRAC Executive Director Katherine Marquette. “This is our second year in a row to have sold out, and we never could have done it without the generosity and support of our patrons. It’s a tremendous accomplishment, one which we hope is repeated again next year as well. Great food and a great cause. What could be better than that?”

The title alludes to the location change and the HRAC being the original site for CAS.

“It's important to bring the CAS series back to HRAC where the series originally began and recognize the facility in its mission-based efforts to support, promote and coordinate visual, performing and literary arts in Tangipahoa Parish and the surrounding parishes,” said HRAC Media Coordinator Tara Bennett.

Poche graduated from the university with a degree in marketing in 2006. He worked as an operations manager for a distribution company in Baton Rouge before deciding to attend culinary school and start his own catering business.

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” said Poche. “Being from south Louisiana, it’s an important part of what we do down here, just part of every celebration that we have. I wasn’t really happy where I was at, but with the support of my wife and my family, I left there and went to culinary school. Now I’m here.”

Bennett shared what attendees could expect with the dinner.

“Our ‘Coming Home’ dinner will be held in the main gallery in a casual setting surrounded by the artwork of Linda Beach,” said Bennett. “In addition to a delicious two-course meal, attendees will leave with a lagniappe gift of a ceramic bowl.”

Poche discussed the dinner menu.

“We know we’re gonna showcase some of the things we do on a regular basis for Fine Thyme Catering,” said Poche. “I know that our main dish will be shrimp and grits just because it’s one of our most popular and one of my favorite dishes to prepare,and we have kind of a unique take on it.”

Based in Hammond, Fine Thyme Catering serves from Gulfport and Jackson in Mississippi to New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana. Poche’s culinary tastes are varied.

“My second favorite cuisine other than southern Louisiana creole Cajun cuisine would probably be Vietnamese,” said Poche. “I really like all different types of food. We cook Indian food. We cook Asian cuisines. We do a lot of stuff from south Louisiana, and then I was trained at LCI, Louisiana Culinary Institute, which is kind of a French style culinary school. I kind of like it all across the board.”

Poche offered advice to anyone aspiring to work in the culinary field.

“You need to have a passion for it other than just ‘Oh, I like to cook on the weekends’ because cooking for several hundred people or owning a restaurant or catering business is much different than just enjoying cooking for your family,” said Poche. “Just like anything else in life, I think this is an industry where you’re gonna get out of it what you put into it, and that goes especially for culinary school. You can go in and not really love what you’re doing and come out of it with nothing, or you can go into it really absorbing everything you possibly can from it and come out ahead of the game.”

Though no set date marks the beginning of ticket sales for next year’s CAS season, ticket sales usually begin late March to early April.

“As our two previous seasons have had tickets completely sell out, we encourage everyone to buy their tickets early for next year's season,” said Bennett.