April 19, 2014

Feb 10, 201210:57 AMTable Talk

New Orleans cuisine to headline new Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club

Feb 10, 2012 - 10:57 AM
New Orleans cuisine to headline new Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club

Chef Moses Jackson. Photo by Emma Patti

“This is where the magic will take place,” says Chef Moses Jackson, as he surveys the disheveled basement at the Bethesda Theatre on 7719 Wisconsin Avenue. Soon, the debris will be cleared away, and in its place will be kettles for making gumbo, jambalaya and red beans, and pastry tables for preparing homemade pies.

This future production kitchen—and a windowed space on the street level where staff will shuck oysters and roll dough for beignets—is where Jackson, a New Orleans native with an impressive culinary background, hopes to transplant a slice of the Big Easy.   

As was first reported in Wednesday’s Bethesda Patch, the 1938 Art Deco cinema, which had a brief reincarnation as an off-Broadway performance venue from 2007 to 2010, was sold last week for $2,895,000. Rick Brown of the Bethesda-based B&B Realty Investments is the new owner of the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, slated to open in September 2012.

According to the supper club’s website, the former Bethesda Theatre will undergo an $8 million renovation, which will include 300 seats for dinner, a 40-foot bar and lounge, and 200 additional performance seats. Jackson said his new kitchen spaces will cost about $1 million.

The passionate chef, a football-playing sociology graduate of Southern University, received his formal food training at the Culinary Institute of New Orleans. From there, he worked under big-name chefs Emeril Laggasse at Nola, and Paul Prudhomme at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen; his bio also says he worked at The Court of Two Sisters and The Praline Connection. During Hurricane Katrina, he was the food and beverage director of the Holiday Inn in the French Quarter.

Jackson, who comes from a culinary family (his cousin Louis Evans was the first black chef to be admitted to the Order of the Golden Toque, an organization that recognizes professional achievement), came to the Washington area about three years ago, where he has been doing catering and teaching cooking classes.  

As for his plans for the supper club, Jackson hopes to authenticate his Cajun and Creole specialties by purchasing most of the ingredients directly from New Orleans. “Even the okra here is stringy,” he says. In New Orleans, “it has a whole different taste.”

A sneak peek of the preliminary menu includes an oyster pan roast, shrimp remoulade and turtle soup for appetizers; fresh fish with crawfish etouffe, blackened catfish and  grilled rib eye steak for entrees, and peach cobbler, bread pudding and sweet potato pie for dessert.

Aside from the supper club, Jackson said there will be a Sunday jazz brunch. He also hopes to teach cooking classes at the facility.

For more information, see www.bethesdabluesjazz.com

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Welcome to Table Talk, the blog version of the column in Bethesda Magazine. Be one of the first to find out about new restaurants and food shops, and join in the lively discussion about first bites, snipes and recommendations.

Before becoming Food Editor of Bethesda Magazine, Carole Sugarman was an award-winning food reporter for The Washington Post for 20 years. She has also written for national food magazines and a food policy newsletter, as well as judged cookbook and cooking contests. She lives in Chevy Chase where she eats PB&J for lunch when she’s not working.

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