Editor’s Note: NolaVie and My House NOLA have partnered on New Orleans food trucks, pop-ups and culinary entrepreneurism coverage. Today, the collaboration continues with a new series that interviews people across sectors in New Orleans, bringing their stories to you about the one thing that brings everyone together: our love for all things food. This series is part of a new blog that My House is launching later this fall.
My House Nola met up with Memphis native and Hurricane Katrina survivor and creator of This Creative Lab Justin Shiels to find out more about his New Orleans business and what he likes to make at home when he’s not busy working.
My House NOLA: So, Justin, tell us a little bit more about who you are.
Justin Shiels: Well, that’s a bit of a tough question, but I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee. I moved to New Orleans for my undergrad education. I went to Loyola. But my interest lies in the creative culture of New Orleans. My full-time gig now is running a creative studio working with graphic and web design.
Basically, I do a lot of really amazing projects for people who are passionate about design. So right now I’m working with a host of different companies to help them find their vision and create their brand. However, my absolute passion of passions that I am working on right now is definitely GoInvade.com. It’s an online magazine, specifically about New Orleans’ creative culture — the people, places and projects that matter in this community.
MYH: So what do you think New Orleans lacks in our creative culture?
JS: Well, as we formalize into the city we are becoming, I hope for a few things. One, I hope that we are able to get more large companies that are able to invest in the arts. I think that is the integral piece that we are missing right now compared to a lot of other cities. The second thing I hope for, I would say, is that while we are getting these larger brands and companies coming to New Orleans, I hope we are able to stay true to our authenticity and keep the feeling of New Orleans as we progress.
MYH: What do you feel is lacking food-wise in New Orleans?
JS: Well, in Memphis there are so many great delis! And here there really are not that many when you want a place to get a good sandwich at lunch or something. So I would probably say that’s the biggest thing that New Orleans is lacking in food-wise.
MYH: What is one of the weirdest things in your fridge and/or freezer at home right now?
JS: Hmm … well, we actually have four or five daiquiri cups in the freezer … haha.
MYH: Well, you are definitely a New Orleanian now! What is one of the best meals you’ve ever eaten in New Orleans?
JS: Well, actually, at Mariza they have a beef rigatoni that is my absolute favorite. Brings me back to my mom cooking beef tips and noodles for me at home and it is my favorite meal. I also really think the Bywater is a great place for food right now in New Orleans.
MYH: So now we are going to recreate one of your favorite recipes to make at home, called … ?
JS: It is a honey vinaigrette!
MYH: And it’s been inspired by a local restaurant’s vinaigrette, correct?
JS: Yes, yes! I was eating at Cake Cafe and I always get a sandwich and a side salad and they have the absolute best tomato vinaigrette that I have ever had, and that was when it dawned on me that, “oh, you can make your own salad dressing,” which I had never considered before. So after that, I went home and Googled lots of different recipes, tweaked some things around and this is recipe that I ended up liking the best.
The I-Can-Make-My-Own-Salad-Dressing Honey-Vinaigrette
Created by Justin Shiels and inspired by a vinaigrette from one of his favorite restaurants
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/4 yellow onion (chopped)
3 teaspoons of honey
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 clove of garlic
Dash of red pepper flakes
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Add all of the measured ingredients together in a food processor/blender and blend for two minutes or until all ingredients have blended together smoothly.
Remove from blender and transfer to a serving bowl/jar.
Poor over your favorite salad and enjoy!
*Check back this Friday for a list of Justin’s top five restaurants in New Orleans.
This series of interviews is made possible through a partnership with My House NOLA, a production planning company for culinary events in New Orleans.