A taste of New Orleans at Ruth’s Chris

Jo McGarry
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Friday - December 28, 2007
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Executive chef Kyle Yonashiro and Jeff Blair at Ruth's Chris Steak House
Executive chef Kyle Yonashiro and Jeff Blair at Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Lots of sugar and spice in the air this weekend as thousands head out to New Orleans and even more dedicated fans get ready to watch the Sugar Bowl right here at home. We thought we’d ask someone familiar with Southern hospitality what Hawaii football fans might expect when they get to New Orleans, so I headed over to Ruth’s Chris Steak House and met up with Jeff Blair, the newest member of the Honolulu executive team.

Jeff has been with Ruth’s Chris for 17 years, and worked closely with founder Ruth Fertel in New Orleans. It doesn’t take long to see that he’s infused with the passion the famous Miss Ruth had for her restaurants.

“Miss Ruth was a true inspiration,” he says.“She worked in the restaurant right along with us, and when I first arrived at Ruth’s Chris about 17 years ago, she was cutting meat in the kitchen.” The restaurant was founded on a genuine desire to give guests a high quality dining experience. “Miss Ruth would go to every table in the dining room and greet diners every night she was in the restaurant,” says Jeff.“She never ignored a customer, and she had a real desire to see people happy.We have the same goals here in Hawaii.” Jeff’s background is as corporate chef - so it’‘s no surprise he’s keen to introduce some traditional Southern dishes to the Honolulu menu.

“We’re bringing back our 40- ounce Porterhouse steak, which has always been popular and is a great dish to share,” he says of the massive chunk of meat. “And we’ve just added a sweet potato casserole with pecans that’s one of our more traditional dishes.”

And Jeff’s keen to showcase the talents of local executive chef Kyle Y. Onashiro, so diners will find Kyle’s specials on the menu alongside the regular Ruth’s Chris entrees.

But while you might not find red beans and rice on the steak house menu, you will find one of the most popular Cajun dishes barbecued shrimp.

Tender barbecue shrimp with layers of butter and pepper is a signature dish at Ruth's Chris
Tender barbecue shrimp with layers of butter and pepper is a signature dish at Ruth’s Chris

“This is a true New Orleans- style dish,” says Jeff of the sautéed shrimp lathered in butter. “I guess most people expect the shrimp to be grilled, but the recipe calls for layers of pepper, salt and garlic - and lots of butter.” The butter is essential to the dish, as is a freshly baked baguette to mop up the sauce.

And while Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses prepare to welcome Hawaii fans to its Honolulu locations (flat-screen TVs at both the Waikiki and Restaurant Row locations will be tuned to the Sugar Bowl), Jeff doesn’t doubt that Hawaii fans will receive an incredible welcome in New Orleans.

“The people of New Orleans are very like Hawaii people,” he says. “They’re warm and friendly and open, and before you know it you’re sitting in someone’s kitchen eating red beans and rice, when a few moments before they were just a stranger. I think that Hawaii fans will love the city and the people.”

Ruth’s Chris Steak House Restaurant Row 599-3860 Waikiki 226 Lewers St.



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