Chef John Folse Named 2023 Humanist of the Year
With Senator Gerald Boudreaux (D-24) and Cajun music documentary “Roots of Fire” receiving additional awards
NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Chef John Folse—culinary professional, food historian, tv personality, restauranteur and Louisiana culture bearer—has been named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ 2023 Humanist of the Year. On Thursday, May 11, the LEH, with Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana Billy Nungesser, will recognize Folse and all of the 2023 Humanities Awards winners at the first Bright Lights Awards Dinner in three years.
The annual event, canceled in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place for the first time in and around LEH’s historic Turners’ Hall in downtown New Orleans, which is now home to The Helis Foundation John Scott Center.
The 2023 Bright Lights Awards Dinner, presented by Entergy, will recognize all of the recipients of the LEH’s Humanities Awards since 2020.
“Having the chance to celebrate and applaud Louisiana’s incredible humanities champions in person means so much,” said LEH President and Executive Director Miranda Restovic. “All of these individuals desire to have their moment in the spotlight, and we couldn’t think of a better location than to welcome everyone into our historic Turners’ Hall headquarters.”
About the awardees
Humanist of the Year: Chef John Folse
The LEH’s Humanist of the Year award recognizes someone who has made invaluable and lasting contributions to Louisiana’s cultural landscape. The 2023 Humanist of the Year is Chef John Folse, a culinary professional, food historian, tv personality, restauranteur and Louisiana culture bearer. A native of St. James Parish, Folse has offered Louisianans and non-Louisianans alike a window on Louisiana food and culture through his restaurants, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, and his numerous cookbooks.
Champion of Culture: Senator Gerald Boudreaux
Individuals or organizations that receive the Champion of Culture award have made a lasting mark through their support and promotion of Louisiana’s cultural resources. During the 2022 Legislative Session, State Senator Gerald Boudreaux (District 24) championed the humanities and the work of the LEH.
His efforts led to significant state funding for the LEH and its statewide programs for the first time in ten years. He also introduced State Senate Resolution No. 97, which “commends the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for its outstanding contributions to the state of Louisiana and to express sincere gratitude to the Prime Time Head Start programs for its lasting contributions to early childhood education in Lafayette Parish and in Louisiana.”
Humanities Documentary Film of the Year: “Roots of Fire,” directed and produced by Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi
The Humanities Documentary Film of the Year award honors a documentary film from the previous calendar year that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana documentary filmmakers. In “Roots of Fire” filmmakers Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi explore the history and legacy of Cajun music through a look at contemporary musicians building new audiences—and new outlets—for the storied genre.
- Chair’s Award for Institutional Support: Patrick F. Taylor Foundation
- Documentary Photographer of the Year: Jenny Ellerbe
- Humanities Book of the Year: Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom” by Kathryn Olivarius (published by Harvard University Press)
- Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities: Marianne Fisher-Giorlando
Best in Digital Humanities: Freedom on the Move
- Light Up for Literacy: Megan Holt
About the event
The Bright Lights Awards Dinner, presented by Entergy, will take place Thursday, May 11, 2023, from 7 to 9 p.m., at LEH’s Turners’ Hall, 938 Lafayette St. in New Orleans. A patron party will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. in The Helis Foundation John Scott Center, recently opened on the first floor of Turners’ Hall.
Built in 1868, Turners’ Hall has been the home of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities since December 2000. Tickets to the dinner are $150 per person with tables available for $2,500 per table of ten. Patron party tickets are available for $250 per person. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit LEH.org or call (504) 356-0517.
The 2023 Bright Lights Awards Dinner is presented by Entergy, with additional support from The Helis Foundation, Jones Walker, Urban South Brewery, and Gulf Coast Bank.