Culinary professionals share wisdom of using good food to boost tourism

Culinary professionals share wisdom of using good food to boost tourism
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - People who enjoy good food, conversation and culture were learning how to use their talents to boost tourism.

Tourism professionals gathered in Downtown Baton Rouge to get some fresh ideas from some top local chefs and restaurant owners. South Louisiana has a lot of good food, and it is one of the many things that draws tourists to the Bayou State each year.

"In South Louisiana, that is a huge advantage for us in promoting tourism because we have such a unique and authentic culinary theme," said famous local chef Jay Ducote.

It also keeps a lot of the tourists coming back. No one knows that better than perhaps Ducote.

"More and more these days people are traveling through their taste buds in their stomachs. They want to go some place they haven't been before to eat," Ducote said.

It is no surprise tourism professionals from across the country chose to come to Baton Rouge to learn more about promoting the food scene in their cities.

Ducote along with John Folse and Ruffin Rodrigue, owner of Ruffino's, were just a few panel members to serve at the annual Southeast Tourism Society's Spring Symposium, which was attended by more than 200 tourism professionals. They talked to attendees about how to use food, music and entertainment to showcase their cities.

Chef Celeste Gill said like a good recipe, a solid tourism marketing plan involves more than just the main course.

"Here in Baton Rouge, we showcase red beans and rice. We've had music centered around that that and it brings tourists from Australia, China," Gill said.

The tourism professionals hope to take home some local flavor and shape it with others who are open to spicing up their main attractions. Rodrigue said Louisiana's unique cuisine has helped business owners flourish and the food scene is cause for celebration.

"In Baton Rouge, we have grown so much because we've hired some great chefs. We have talent here for people to come and enjoy the food. It's amazing what it can do for a city," Rodrigue said.

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