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Longtime Commander’s Palace chef departs, and for first time a woman leads the kitchen | Where NOLA Eats

For the first time in almost two decades, Commander’s Palace has a new chef. For the first time in the famous restaurant’s long history that chef is a woman.

Tory McPhail, executive chef since 2002, has resigned and is moving to Montana, where he will work with a local restaurant group in the mountain town of Bozeman.



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Chef Meg Bickford of Commander’s Palace restaurant in New Orleans, Oct. 2020.




His successor at Commander’s Palace is Meg Bickford, who was previously executive sous chef.

Bickford, 34, has risen through the ranks at Commander’s Palace and is now the first woman to lead the landmark restaurant’s kitchen.

To Bickford, that speaks to a culture of mentoring at Commander’s Palace and to its family leadership. The restaurant is run today by Ti Martin and Lally Brennan, cousins who grew up in the restaurant.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow here, and a lot of people who invested the time and effort and who believed in me,” Bickford said. “That’s what we do here, and that’s why I’m in this position today.”

Passing the torch

Bickford’s new position is among the most prominent in the New Orleans culinary world, with a role that goes beyond directing its sprawling kitchen.



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Commander’s Palace was voted tops in four categories, including Best new Orleans Restaurant.




Commander’s Palace is a byword for New Orleans fine dining and among the best-known restaurants in the region. Though its history goes back to 1893, it became an emblem of modern New Orleans cuisine in the 1970s after the Brennan family acquired the vintage restaurant. It pioneered haute Creole cuisine, which reshaped the national reputation of New Orleans food from a bulwark of tradition to a hotbed of innovation.



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Commander’s Palace chef

Human smuggling attempt at checkpoint leads to stash house

The discovery of 40 immigrants inside a trailer led authorities to a stash house in south Laredo with an additional 22 immigrants, according to an arrest affidavit filed on Oct. 5.

A blue tractor hauling a white trailer arrived on Oct. 1 at the U.S. 83 checkpoint. The driver, later identified as Eloy Martinez-Carranza, claimed to be a Mexican citizen with a valid employment authorization card. During his immigration inspection, a K-9 unit allegedly alerted to the presence of people or narcotics within the trailer.

Agents instructed Martinez-Carranza to drive to the secondary area for further inspection. There, agents removed the seal that secured the trailer doors and discovered 40 people who were determined to be immigrants who were illegally present in the country, according to court documents. Agents allegedly recorded the temperature inside the trailer as 109 degrees Fahrenheit.

Homeland Security Investigations special agents responded to investigate the smuggling attempt. Martinez-Carranza allegedly agreed to talk to special agents without an attorney present. Martinez-Carranza stated that a man picked him up at the hotel he was staying in Laredo and drove him to the location of the tractor-trailer, which was located behind the Target on Interstate 35.

“Martinez-Carranza stated the male gave him one $1,200 for payment and diesel and informed him the paperwork for the shipment was in the tractor. Martinez-Carranza stated he noticed the trailer had a seal securing the doors, so he did not check the contents of the trailer,” states the affidavit.

Martinez-Carranza stated he was told he would be delivering car parts. But authorities found no information on the company Matinez-Carranza claimed he was working for. He was arrested and charged with transport, attempt to transport and conspire to transport the immigrants.

‘Pistolero’

An immigrant held as a material witness in the case stated that

Udall Leads Short List of Candidates for Biden’s Interior Secretary

(Bloomberg) — Retiring Senator Tom Udall is leading a short list of candidates to run the Interior Department if Joe Biden wins the presidency next month — a role that would put him to work in a building named for his father.

Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, is a top contender to be Biden’s secretary of the Interior and would consider the role if asked, according to people familiar with the matter who sought anonymity to discuss the personnel search.



Tom Udall wearing a suit and tie: Senate Passes Measure To Limit Trump On Iran That Faces Veto


© Bloomberg
Senate Passes Measure To Limit Trump On Iran That Faces Veto

Senator Tom Udall

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Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“It’s hard to find someone who’s been a bigger champion of public lands than Tom Udall, whether you’re talking about in his state, New Mexico, or nationwide, advocating for the Arctic refuge and fighting climate change,” said Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club’s land protection program. “It’s in his genes.”

Representative Deb Haaland, another Democrat from New Mexico, and Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona who leads the House Natural Resources Committee, also have won praise from environmental groups and been recommended to head the Interior Department.

The agency acts as the nation’s landlord, overseeing grazing, recreation, energy development and other activities on about a fifth of the U.S. The department also is in charge of the national park system and regulates energy development in coastal waters, including offshore wind farms and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tom Udall’s father, Stewart Udall, was Interior secretary from 1961 to 1969 and is credited with a major expansion in federal land protection, including the creation of dozens of wildlife refuges, national parks and recreation areas. He died in 2010, and the agency’s headquarters building in Washington was named for him three months later.

Under President Donald Trump, the

Trump effort to bar racial-sensitivity trainings in federal government leads to confusion for employees

“I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane, that it was a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools all over the place,” Trump said. “And you know it. And so does everybody.”

Democratic nominee Joe Biden alleged, however, that Trump had a much different motive for banning the trainings: “He’s a racist.”

Their comments came one day after the White House issued its second set of guidelines on the attempted bans. The guidelines outlined how the government would retaliate against those who did not follow the new restrictions.

They have raised numerous questions inside government agencies about how to proceed. It also triggered a backlash within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, with some career employees complaining policy is being set based on what the president sees on conservative cable networks — and OMB officials are happily going along with it.

Russell Vought, OMB’s director, updated the administration’s guidance after the National Park Service sent agency officials a memo last week suspending hundreds of training programs while it tried to understand how to comply with the order, according to emails and documents reviewed by The Washington Post. It would later narrow the list of suspended courses, but some employees said they still included ones on sexual harassment, tribal consultation and how to respond to people with disabilities.

The White House orders have led to scrambling throughout the government.

Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the government’s second-largest agency and among the most decentralized, abruptly canceled a diversity training program at the VA hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla. This decision was made by the agency’s Washington headquarters after a conservative activist flagged the event on Twitter.

The chain of