OUT TO LUNCH finds Baton Rouge Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel combining her hard news journalist skills and food background: conducting business over lunch. Baton Rouge has long had a storied history of politics being conducted over meals, now the Capital Region has an equivalent culinary home for business: Mansur’s. Each week Stephanie holds court over lunch at Mansur’s and invites members of the Baton Rouge business community to join her. You can also hear the show on WRKF 89.3FM.
In a state that claims as its motto "Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez," it’s not surprising that what today are euphemistically called ‘adult beverages’ factor prominently in the culture. What is surprising is the growing number of distilleries and breweries based in south Louisiana - including right here in Baton Rouge – that are emerging on the local scene and making a name for themselves.
Ricci Hull is one such distiller. He is the owner of Baton Rouge Distilling, a distillery that opened in April 2016 and has begun producing a line of fruit brandies, with plans on the way for a flagship bourbon and a rye whiskey. Ricci didn’t set out to be a craft distiller; he’s an electrical engineer by training, but a couple of years ago he and his wife, Natasha Krzesaj, realized after sampling craft whiskeys while traveling that they had the know-how to get into the business. A distillery, after all, as Ricci will tell you, is really just a small scale refinery, where molecules are manipulated until they morph into something new. Sounds simple, right?
Joseph Picou is a craft brewer, who with his partner, Wes Hedges, owns Southern Craft Brewing Company. Joseph and Wes got into brewing long before they thought about turning it into a business. They were engineers by day and home brewers by night, who realized they had potential when they entered a national homebrewers competition in 2011 and came in 2nd out of 7000 brewers with their Red Stick Rye. Today, they have a brewery here in baton rouge that produces four craft beers sourced with local ingredients and their brews are served in restauratns and bars throughotut the Capital Region.