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The life of a culinary artist: Balancing family and cuisine

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Chef Joshua Garic of Jacmel Inn recently presented during the Hammond Regional Arts Center’s annual “Culinary Arts Series.”  Garic, who was classically trained in New York, views his career as a culinary artist as challenging but rewarding. Larshell Green/The Lion’s Roar

Executive Chef Joshua Garic of Jacmel Inn presented dishes that included: blackened catfish, stewed rabbit, summer squash and birthday cake pops with cream cheese frosting at the Hammond Regional Arts Center’s annual “Culinary Arts Series.” For a culinary artist such as Garic, balancing flavors and textures to create his award-winning dishes has become simple. However, building a balance in his life outside the kitchen still requires careful maintenance.  

“The career in itself is difficult when you have a family and throw kids into the mix,” said Garic. “The hours can be difficult. Like anything in life, you try to find a balance. Work hard, come in early and stay late. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Try to have fun.” 

Garic describes a culinary artist as someone with a good skill set, technique and attitude. He first became inspired to pursue a career as a chef after watching his mother cook while working in a restaurant at 16 years old.  

His journey to Jacmel Inn began after he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 2005. He was classically trained at the school, worked at the Vega Tapas Cafe in Metairie as the chef de cuisine and interned with renowned Chef John Besh at Restaurant August in New Orleans. 

Jacmel Inn is known for its sophisticated cuisine and romantic environment. Garic appreciates the ambiance of the restaurant. 

“It’s beautiful, rustic, cozy and elegant,” said Garic. “I think if you want a nice dining experience, there’s nowhere else to get what we have.” 

The Metairie native who spent most of his time cooking in New Orleans had to adjust to the slower pace of Hammond restaurants. He views events like the “Culinary Arts Series” as a chance for local communities to bond through cuisine. 

“I think in a small town like this, it makes the community stronger,” said Garic. “You need small events like this to make people aware of what’s going on.” 

HRAC Executive Director Maureen Joyce feels that the “Culinary Arts Series” allows chefs to be creative with food. She is fond of Jacmel Inn’s 20-year history with the series. 

“Chefs tap into all their senses as well as open their creativity channels to produce memorable experiences with food,” said Joyce. “Food can be mundane. We need it almost every day just to survive. When food creates an experience and transcends the everyday to create a memory, we then have a moment of art. This is why guests return year after year to partake in that experience and moment.”

Joyce explained how the reputation of a chef can contribute to the selection process of the “CAS.”

“Chefs are chosen based on their reputations of creating those kinds of moments,” said Joyce. “Josh Garic has that reputation, and Jacmel Inn has had that reputation for 40 years. Romance resides there under those lovely oak trees, and charming details reveal themselves in everything from the architecture to the creative menu.” 

Chef Joshua Garic of Jacmel Inn values preparing fresh ingredients such as the tomato salad seen above. Larshell Green/The Lion's Roar


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