Don’t forget to feed your soul, too.
There’s only so much food one man can eat in a day, so when Sobel’s finished feasting, he likes to check out the city’s famed jazz scene. “I’m a freak for live music. I try to go out and listen to live music every night; it’s where I like to end my day,” he says. “There are a million great places, but the Spotted Cat [on Frenchmen Street] is my favorite. They have amazing blues and jazz.”
For Sobel, checking out bands in New Orleans is about more than just having a good time -- it’s about helping preserve the musical traditions of jazz and blues. “You just don’t find that kind of music in [other] major cities across the country, but in New Orleans, it’s a part of their culture and they take pride in carrying it on,” he says. “I’ve seen a 12-year-old prodigy playing trombone in a bar at midnight. You wouldn’t expect that, but in New Orleans, they celebrate talent like that.”
Take that Big Easy spirit home.
Sobel cherishes every visit to NOLA and uses the trips to inspire his work in the kitchen. “Going to New Orleans is always a great reminder of hospitality, authenticity, and soul,” he says. “I cook from the heart and truly want to take care of people, and I take that approach with everything we do in the restaurant. It’s got to be authentic. It’s got to be soulful.”
As far as what he brings back from his trips, it’s not as simple as a recipe, or an idea for a dish, or a new ingredient to use. “It’s more about the spirit of the place,” Sobel says. “There’s a soulfulness there that feeds me.”
A soulfulness… and also fried chicken, muffuletta, garlic knots, and four-hour brunches. Doesn’t get much more satisfying than that.