NOLA, of course, stands for New Orleans, Louisiana, and so you can expect a full array of Crescent City standards. (The Avalon Park restaurant is not affiliated with Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant of the same name.)
Described as a micro restaurant, NOLA Avalon Park will have at its helm Kevin Brune, a third generation Louisianan who introduced many Central Floridians to New Orleans cuisine through his Voodoo Kitchen food truck.
Before that he was with the American Culinary Federation and was also involved in the development of Universal Studios’ Mardi Gras event. But ironically, he was not a chef or even a professional cooks in either of those capacities. Instead he was director of events for ACF and director of entertainment for Universal, booking the bands that would appear during the Mardi Gras festival.
In 2013, Brune accepted a job that would send him to Istanbul. But the death of his brother made leaving his family at that time untenable. He had been fascinated by the burgeoning food truck scene, so finding himself without a job, he decided it was time to make the move. He got his food truck license (the forty-second one issued by the city of Orlando) and started the Voodoo Kitchen food truck, which he dedicated to his brother.
Brune, 56, says that he learned to cook in his mother’s kitchen and his NOLA menu will have all the classic Cajun and creole favorites, including red beans & rice, jambalaya, chicken & sausage gumbo, and crawfish étouffée, as well as po’boys, fried chicken and muffuletta. He’s especially fond of his étouffée, which he describes as thicker and creamier than some others.
He said he calls NOLA a micro restaurant because “we have a full-blown kitchen and a full-blown kitchen staff but no front-of-the house personnel.” The order taking, food delivery and dining area maintenance will be handled by the Marketplace’s staff.
The Marketplace at Avalon is expected to open sometime in mid September, though the exact date has yet to be announced. I’ve been missing my annual trips to New Orleans for a couple of years now – just cancelled the reservations I had there for two weeks from now, because that just ain’t going to happen. So I’m looking forward to visiting NOLA Avalon Park for a Big Easy culinary fix.