Host Spotlight: Kristen Essig & Michael Stoltzfus of Coquette NOLA

Our host chefs for have been well known to New Orleans’ locals for a long time. After both spending times in some of New Orleans most celebrated restaurants, this personal and professional pair are now partners in Coquette, the restaurant that Michael founded in 2008. Kristen is an Indie Chefs Week OG, having taken part in one of the first events in Austin back in 2013. Michael’s first experience at ICW was in May 2017 at our New York event.

According to event organizer Grover Smith “We had always wanted to do an Indie Chefs Week in New Orleans ever since we took it on the road in 2014. I have family in the bar industry in New Orleans and had flirted with the idea of moving there a few times, so the draw of the city is not lost on me. But, it took the dogged determination of Kristen and Mike to make it happen and now I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. I think the visiting chefs are about to experience something extraordinary.”

Kristen is heavily involved in championing positive change in restaurant culture & inclusivity and sits on the Women’s Advisory Council for Atlanta Wine & Food and Medusa, a New Orleans’ local organization working to eliminate sexual harassment in restaurants. As the mission of Indie Chefs Week is creating a diverse community of chefs across markets to spur collaboration and positive change in restaurant culture, we couldn’t be better aligned.

Kristen Essig Bio

Kristen Essig was born and raised in Florida. After graduating from the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in 1998, Kristen worked with James Beard award winning chefs, Chef Frank Lee of Slightly North of Broad and Chef Louis Osteen of Louis’ Charleston Grill. Seventeen years ago, Kristen made New Orleans her home, kicking off her Crescent City culinary career with Chef Emeril Lagasse at Emeril’s, followed by a four-year turn with Chef and mentor Anne Kearney at the famed New Orleans Restaurant, Peristyle. She joined the Crescent City Farmers Market as market manager where she cultivated strong relationships with local farmers, producers and vendors. She’s been a Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine “Chef to Watch” (2005), a sought-after private chef, and in April, 2013 Kristen returned full time to the restaurant kitchens. Since then she’s been named one of Coastal Living Magazines “5 Coastal Chefs to Watch” (2015), nominated as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “The People’s Best New Chef” (2015), and one of Times Picayunes Chefs to Watch (2014). Kristen proudly joined the Coquette family in the fall of 2016 as a co-chef and partner with her love, Michael.

Michael Stoltzfus Bio

Although he grew up on a 140 acre working dairy farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and enjoyed the freshest products available, Stoltzfus never imagined a career in the culinary industry. Fate or perhaps his mother’s intuition steered him in a fortuitous direction, when a couple of weeks before he was to begin college, his mother decided to open a bakery and enlisted Stoltzfus’ help in running it. Although he knew little more than how to scramble an egg, Stoltzfus found himself cooking breakfast and lunch at the family owned restaurant.

While working at the family bakery, Stoltzfus embarked on his personal culinary adventure, purchasing a variety of cookbooks and began cooking and experimenting at home. At 25 years old, after working at a few restaurants in Maryland, his talents were evident and he was hired to work at New Orleans’ esteemed Restaurant August, where six months later he was promoted to Sous Chef.

His entrepreneurial spirit flared, and in December of 2008, he opened Coquette in a gorgeous two-story Garden District building. Stoltzfus looks at Coquette as a culinary playground where he thrives on designing personalized tastings menus for guests and creating a menu that changes daily. His inspired cooking has earned his restaurant a spot on the Times-Picayune’s New Orleans Top Ten Restaurant List and Stoltzfus has been named a semi-finalist in the prestigious James Beard “Best Chef in the South,” award for the past four years.

ICW Houston

May 3-4-6, 2018

  • 3 nights / 24 chefs

  • Thursday, May 3rd – Dinner at 7:30PM
  • Regular ticket $195, VIP $225
  • Friday, May 4th – Dinner at 7:30PM
  • Regular ticket $195, VIP $225
  • Sunday, May 6th – Dinner at 7:00PM
  • Regular ticket $205, VIP $250
  • A portion of ticket sales supports No Kid Hungry

**Due to the nature of the event, we apologize that we cannot accommodate special dietary requests.**
**Tickets are nonrefundable but transferable**

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