On average, Jazz Fest adds $300 million to the local economy and is expected to draw nearly half a million attendees this year.
And all of those people need to be fed.
With over 70 food and beverage vendors, Jazz Fest does not disappoint. We spoke with Poppy Tooker, the host of WWNO's Lousiana Eats!, as she went through her annual ritual surveying the food booths at Jazz Fest. We got to preview some of the new dishes hitting the festival food scene.
Poppy's top picks to try?
1. Shrimp and Duck Pasta, from Crescent Catering. The WWNO team loved the noodles used for this dish, the tender duck and plenty of green onions. Poppy says this one's trying to edge in on Crawfish Monica, the classic Jazz Fest dish.
2. Ambrosia Tea. This replaces the infamous Mandarin Iced Tea. No word on the reason for the flavor change, but Poppy notes that Ambrosia "might be just the thing to quench your thirst fourth-quarter."
3. Japanese BBQ Po-Boy. Latest offering from Ninja, a beloved sushi and Japanese cuisine restaurant in New Orleans.
Fried crawfish from Guil's.
4. Guil's Fried Crawfish. One of Poppy's first day must-eats is Gull's gator. That's tender bits of alligator meat, fried crisp. For the gator-shy in your group, Gull's has fried crawfish this year, mixed with fried onion and fried jalapeno rings. Our production crew also snacked on this — plenty of pepper kick to get us to deadline.
5. Crispy Wings and Fried Okra: New dishes from Jazz Fest classic vendor, the Praline Connection. Poppy also loves their traditional offering, the fried chicken livers with pepper jelly.
And let's round out this list to a lucky seven with two tried and true Jazz Fest Poppy Tooker traditions.
6. Breakfast of Champions: Poppy says nothing beats hot pork cracklins and a cold beer
7. Close out Jazz Fest like Poppy with a fried pork chop sandwich from Miss Linda Green's. Or maybe two. She'll eat one, and tuck the other in her purse as she strolls out of the Fair Grounds.
And remember all the hard work that brings you this feast at the Fest.
"The demands on the Jazz Fest vender is rigorous," says Poppy. For 24 hours a day, they're checking the temperature on the refrigerated trucks to make sure the food is being kept right. And the preparations are intense. The crawfish bisque, for example, has five stuffed crawfish heads in each bowl. The vendor Eddie Baquet has a single lady who stuffs crawfish heads months in advance, just preparing for Jazz Fest.
Happy Jazz Fest eating everyone! Stay tuned to WWNO for more on Jazz Fest food.