Oak Street Coutelier Culinary Boutique Expands, Chef Behind Plans New Japanese Bar | Where NOLA eats
During her career as a cook in the upper echelon of American gastronomy, Jacqueline Blanchard learned that having the right tools is essential and that sourcing is sacrosanct.
She applied those lessons to Coutelier, the Oak Street culinary store she and business partner Brandt Cox launched with a specialty in high-end Japanese kitchen knives.
They also form the backstory for Blanchard’s next solo venture, a new Japanese tavern currently taking shape on Oak Street called Sukeban.
It will be a small bar with a modern, clean design and a menu of temaki, or sushi rolls, as well as Japanese beer, whiskey and sake. Sukeban is expected to open in early summer.
Coutelier opened in 2015 with a highly selected collection of knives and culinary tools. It has quickly become a hub for serious catering professionals and home cooks, who recognize the value of a knife that can cost hundreds of dollars and play a role in their kitchen for a lifetime.
In April, Coutelier moved to a location about twice as large, three blocks away at 8600 Oak St.
She and Cox travel to Japan frequently to meet the craftsmen behind the generations-old family businesses that produce these knives the traditional way.
Along the way, Blanchard said, experiencing a certain type of Japanese tavern helped her distill what she wanted to create for herself in New Orleans.
That’s what led to Sukeban, which is now taking shape at 8126 Oak St.
It will be an izakaya, which in Japan means a bar with food. Izakayas are casual and often focus on a few dishes, rather than the menus of American Japanese restaurants.
“It’s that feeling you get when you walk into these little places and everything has been really well prepared,” Blanchard said. “It totally reshaped what I envisioned for the restaurant I would open, what I wanted.”
Sukeban means “boss girl” or “delinquent girl”, a term that caught on in Japan’s “girl gangs” from the 1970s. Blanchard chose it because it also represents a whole subculture of no – respect for the rules and independence.
Inside the izakaya
Sukeban’s storefront housed Blue Cypress Books, which ran directly across Oak Street.
Once complete, visitors will find a long bar with modern Japanese and Scandinavian design elements.
The menu will include about half a dozen handrolls, changing specialties and an assortment of side dishes from the izakaya tradition.
Temaki, a sushi bar standard gaining national attention, focuses on the instant freshness of fish rice and nori, the seafood wrap that ties it together. The chefs put them back at the bar as they are prepared, for the instant freshness of the creation.
With the handrolls, Blanchard finds a connection to his own Louisiana roots.
“It’s seafood, rice and drink culture, that’s what we have here,” she said.
Blanchard grew up in the parish of L’Assomption around Bayou Lafourche. She studied Culinary Arts at Nicholls State University and built a career in the high end of modern American dining. This includes French Laundry and Bouchon in Napa Valley, Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, and Benu in San Francisco, which received three Michelin stars while serving as sous chef. In New Orleans, she was executive sous chef at August Restaurant.
Cutler grows up
She moved away from the kitchen to develop Cutler with Cox, starting from the impulse that a culinary city like New Orleans needed a place where people would find the best tools.
“We wanted a place where our peers in the field could hold their tangible tools,” Blanchard said. “The knife is a representation of your work, your cut, an extension of your hand. We used to buy them online before, and what you get isn’t always what you expect. You have to hold it.
With the new, larger address, Coutelier has expanded its range.
This includes more knife sharpening services and courses in knife sharpening and knife skills. The store’s selection now includes specialty loose leaf teas from Taiwan, Japan, China, India and beyond, as well as condiments, sauces and other specialty pantry items from around the world. , as well as the brands and types of cookware chefs used in high-end restaurants. kitchens.
The store’s move and the upcoming izakaya are two of many changes on Oak Street, which has seen restaurants close during the pandemic and new ones emerge. Blanchard said his movements reflected his commitment to the streets.
“It is as if a rebirth was announced. Oak Street is an affordable place to start a business, which is why we are here and committed to it,” Blanchard said.
8600 Oak Street, (504) 475-5606
8126 Oak St., scheduled to open early summer 2022
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