5 Things You Should Know About Chef Blake Phillips

by Jerrica B.

Do you like to have your finger on the pulse of the Monroe culinary scene? I got you.

Blake Phillips;Sage
Chef Blake Phillips


Blake Phillips has been the chef at Restaurant Sage in Monroe for two years now. Basically, he’s the mastermind behind that amazing food. If you’ve seen his name come up a lot recently, you are not alone. He’s an active member of the local community, and he may or may not have just added a studded crown to his hat rack. Here are 5 things you need to know about Chef Blake:

His winning dish! -Photo courtesy of Restaurant Sage Facebook
  1. He is the reigning Louisiana Seafood King.

This annual competition took place in New Orleans on May 29. Phillips’ opponents were from all over the state. It’s safe to say that he represented the Monroe-West Monroe area very well, since he took home the victory. His winning dish? A blackened sous vide grouper with fava bean and sweet potato puree with corn, crab, and mirliton slaw. For a limited time, you can order this dish at Restaurant Sage!

  1. He went to Italy just before the competition.

He crossed oceans in search of inspiration. Not only for the competition, but also to learn more about his trade. It was here that he decided to use the fava bean in his winning dish, which put an Italian twist on his typically-French cooking style. So when you eat at Restaurant Sage, you know you are getting an incredible, globally-inspired meal.

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Sage Facebook page
  1. He is originally from Monroe.

Although he went to culinary school in Austin, Texas, and spent years as a chef in New Orleans, he grew up right here in our beautiful parish. “It just pulled me back,” he said.

Now, he’s made a name for himself in the local area. First, as the chef behind the impeccable cuisine at Restaurant Sage, and now, because of his win in New Orleans.

  1. He uses his powers for good.

Phillips will be participating in Chefs for a Cause on July 12 to support Family Promise of Ouachita. All proceeds from the event go to the organization which assists the local homeless population. He also helps promote Louisiana cuisine by participating in LTPA’s Chef Take-over. Last year, the event was in Austin, Texas, but this year it will be in Charleston, South Carolina.

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Sage Facebook page
  1. He will represent Louisiana at the Great American Seafood Cook-off.

On August 6 in New Orleans, La., chefs from all over the country will compete in this event. Like Phillips, each chef has won their own state competition and now looks for a victory on the national level. We certainly hope that Chef Blake Phillips wins once again, but we all come out ahead here. These events work to promote Louisiana seafood, which is over 70% of our nation’s seafood.


So there you have it. If you’ve never been to Restaurant Sage, GO. You will not regret it. And when you do go, be sure to congratulate Phillips on his success. You might even get to see his crown! We certainly appreciate what he does for our area, and we look forward to seeing what else he has up his chef coat sleeve.




Faith, Family, & Fireworks

by Janna J. 

Martin having fun with the crowd

If you are looking for a wholesome patriotic event the whole family will enjoy for the Fourth of July weekend look no further than Monroe-West Monroe. The Duck Commander crew invites you to celebrate our nation’s independence with them at the 2nd annual Faith, Family, Fireworks. This all day event will take place at the Duck Commander Warehouse in West Monroe. Beginning at 12:00pm there will be parking available at Academy/Willie’s Duck Dinner with free bus transportation to and from the Warehouse. The Robertson’s will be up to their usual wacky shenanigans throughout the day, so arrive on time to ensure you don’t miss a second of the action.

Si and Willie on the mic

One of the highlights of the day’s activities will be movin’ and groovin’ to the jams of good ole Uncle Si’s band Si Robertson & the Si-cotics feat. Marsha Robertson. America’s favorite family will also be available throughout the day for autographs and photos. Make sure to come hungry and participate in Godwin’s Watermelon Eating Contest. BBQ will be available for purchase from Saddle Tramps Cooking Team, because what is Fourth of July without BBQ? Guests will feel like part of the family once they satisfy their sweet tooth with one of Miss Kay’s delicious baked goods that will also be available for purchase at the event. Check out the schedule below for all the great events that will sure to make this holiday on for the books.


1:00— John Luke Signing at Ice Cabin
2:30— Si Signing at Store
3:30— Martin Duck Call Seminar
4:00— Kay Signing at Store
4:30— Watermelon Eating Contest with Godwin
5:30— Bingo
7:00— Si’s Band (Si Robertson & the Si-cotics feat. Marsha Robertson)
8:00— Store Closes
Dark— Fireworks

Parking is available in the lot at Academy and Willie’s Duck Diner, located at 125 Constitution Drive. Beginning at 12 pm, a shuttle will run between this location and the warehouse.

The crowd enjoying Faith, Family, & Fireworks

Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs, Jack!

The Living Fountain Returns to the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens

The Living Fountain will return to the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens Jun. 17th- Jun. 18th. Be prepared to witness a unique display of grace, beauty, and poise. The event will be held in celebration of the recently restored ELsong Maiden Statue that was damaged in the tornado in 2014, a casualty of a fallen oak. It was one of the five large Maiden Statues that stand in the gardens.

ELsong Gardens at Biedenharn Museum and Gardens

After 17 months, the statue has finished being restored and was recently re-erected. Now the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens will have a special presentation of the Living Fountain sponsored by Patrick Electric, R-Squared Construction, and John Watson Landscape Illumination.

The Living Fountain is “A unique entertainment experience, where nature comes to life with an extraordinary combination of movement, music and live interaction. Each element weaves an enchanting tapestry in a stunning display of visual images and illusions. This is The Living Fountain, mesmerizing audiences young and old at a host of venues throughout the world,” says Atmosphere Entertainment.

“The performances are very popular,” says Executive Director Ralph Calhoun. “It has been over five years since the Living Fountain has been at the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens. I have had many people ask when we will have it again, so it is a delight to bring the Living Garden back to the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens this year.”

On Fri., Jun. 17th, three daylight performances will take place at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm and again on Sat., Jun. 18th. Two special evening performances will take place at 8pm on Fri., Jun. 17th and Sat., Jun. 18th.

Daytime performances are $10 per person and the evening performance is $15 per person. Shows will sell out fast so get your tickets now by calling the Museum Store at 318-387-5281.

The Biedenarn Museum & Gardens is open Tues. thru Sat. from 10am to 5pm. Free parking is available on three sides of the museum. The main parking area is located on Speed Avenue near the main entrance to the Coke Museum. Tour information, maps and tickets are available at the Museum Store located inside the Coke Museum. An unloading zone for buses is also located on Speed Avenue directly adjacent to the Coke Museum. Adults $6 Students $4 (Under 12 years old) Annual Pass $20 (a great bargain) Tickets may be purchased in the Museum Store, located in the Coke Museum building, at 2000 Riverside Drive (the corner of Riverside Drive and Speed Avenue).

6 Places to Find Gluten-Free Options in Monroe-West Monroe

by Jerrica B.

We all know that Ouachita Parish is home to some of the most delicious food. Our local restaurants boast a wide variety of flavors and cuisines. However, there are some whose options are limited. For those of you who have Celiac’s disease, gluten intolerance, or who just prefer a gluten free diet, there are several restaurants in our area who are happy to cater to your needs. Check out these great places:

chicken pot pie
Gluten free Chicken Pot Pie at For His Temple Foods
  1. For His Temple Family Foods (315 Wood St., West Monroe)

The beauty of this restaurant is that you can walk right in, order anything off the menu, and it is guaranteed to be gluten free. This place boasts a 100% gluten free menu. From their delicious chicken pot pie—made with gluten free pie crust—to their pecan chocolate chip cookies, all of their food is organic. Their goal is to serve only healthy, delicious meal alternatives to your everyday menu. This place is pick-up only, so it’s great for a quick stop!

Wagyu Burger
Wagyu Burger at Vieux Carre Gourmet Market
  1. Vieux Carre Gourmet Market (1623 N 18th, Monroe)

Satisfy your burger cravings here! This restaurant offers a gluten-free burger that is to die for! The Wagyu Burger is 6 oz. house ground with onion, pickles, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato all wrapped in steamed collards in place of a bun.

Cilantro Organic Bistro
  1. Cilantro Organic Bistro (1211 N 18th, Monroe)

This restaurant offers many gluten-free options on their menu. Most of their menu changes daily, but the delicious roasted turkey sandwich can be served on gluten free bread, and it is almost always available! Also, be on the lookout for their delicious gluten free peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies. Check their website for weekly menu updates.

Roma Italian Bistro
  1. Roma Italian Bistro (400 Trenton St., West Monroe)

People visit this restaurant for their amazing pasta dishes and Italian cuisine, but also for their casual, chic atmosphere. For their gluten free options, any pasta dish can be prepared with gluten free pasta.

Paw Paw’s Pizza
  1. Paw Paw’s Pizza Factory Buffet  (3426 Cypress St., West Monroe)

This relatively new restaurant in West Monroe has been making big impressions on pizza lovers throughout the area. They have a gluten free pizza crust that can be used with any of their delicious toppings. It is not available on the buffet, but it is made to order. Call ahead and check availability, though, because they sell through them quickly!

Pictures 008
Daily Harvest
  1. Daily Harvest (1105 Forsythe Ave., Monroe)

This restaurant always has healthy foods ready to eat. Call one day ahead to order gluten free muffins, brownies, or cookies! This gives the kitchen the ability to avoid cross-contamination and it gives you the ability to enjoy a delicious, gluten free dessert!



Gluten free cakes by Butter Bakery

For all of your celebrating and party needs, Butter Bakery, a home-based bakery, bakes and decorates gluten free cakes! They can do single or multi-tier for office parties, weddings, or birthdays. Try their cupcakes and cookies as well. Check out their Facebook page for a look at all of their amazing creations.

All of these local places offer great alternatives for gluten-free eaters, and they don’t skimp on the flavor! Give them a try next time you are looking for a delicious, healthy meal.


10 Can’t Miss Summer Events in Monroe-West Monroe

By Janna J.

  1. Louisiana Music and Food Festival

May 21-Start summer 2016 off the Cajun way at the Louisiana Music and Food Festival. Come with an empty stomach and a full wallet to enjoy a Louisiana Saturday full of great shopping, amazing live music, and famous Cajun cuisine. Different genres of music will be performed throughout the day and night on both the RiverMarket and Bry Park stages. One moment you may be dancing the Cajun two-step and the next swaying along to the sounds of classic R&B, but no matter what type of music you prefer there will be something for everyone to enjoy at the Louisiana Music and Food Festival.

  1. Brewfest

June4-The 2nd annual Brewfest may be one of the most anticipated events of the summer. Last year’s event was wildly successful selling out before the event date. This year Brewfest is promised to be better than ever with over 150 beers from Choice Brands, Marsala Beverage, the Fort Miro Brewmasters, Glazer’s Distributors, International Wine & Spirits, Ouachita Brewing Co., Flying Tiger Brewery, and Cotton Port Brewing for tasting. There will also be music, food, and entertainment to make for a memorable night.This looks to be a sellout, so get your tickets soon!

  1. Downtown Cinema
Downtown Cinema, West Monroe La - 8/29/09
Downtown Cinema

May 28-Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy a movie under the stars at the Downtown Cinema. This event is a perfect idea for a family outing, romantic date for two, or a night out with friends. You don’t even have to worry about the snacks; the Downtown Cinema has you covered with free popcorn and water.  Movies will be playing throughout the summer, usually on the last Saturday of the month, so take a break from the stuffy theaters and enjoy your next flick in Downtown Monroe.

  1. Living Fountain at the Biedenharn
Living Fountain at the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens

June 17 & 18-Watch nature come to life before your eyes as the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens presents the Living Fountain. This unique show will be back at the Biedenharn for the first time in 5 years. Witness the magic of a fountain coming to life before your eyes, with the use of music, lighting, live interaction, and water,

  1. Downtown Summer Art Festival

June 18-Celebrate the arts in the streets of Downtown West Monroe with the Downtown Summer Art Festival. Artist booths, live bands, food, and performers will be set up between Antique Alley and the river for the festival. Local artists will have their art on display and ready for purchase. Come see all things art at the Downtown Summer Art Festival.

  1. Miss Louisiana Pageant
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Miss Louisiana Pageant

June 23-25- Watch as young women from across the state compete for the title of Miss Louisiana 2016. This Pageant will be broadcast throughout the state, but there is nothing like seeing the competition first hand at the Monroe Civic Center. This event is a perfect outing for a girl’s night or a mommy-daughter date. Watching these outstanding young women inspire both young and old to never stop reaching for their dreams.

  1. Downtown River Jam

July 2-Downtown River Jam is back with the award winning Matthew Davidson Band live on the Skent-N-Dent stage. Various food trucks and a full bar will be on site.

  1. CenturyLink Star Spangled Spectacular Firework Show
Photo contest, monroe louisiana
4th of July Fireworks by Jeremy Thornhill

July 2-No 4th of July celebration would be complete without fireworks and why settle for sparklers and pop rocks when you could be mesmerized by the Star Spangled Spectacular? The best spots in the Monroe-West Monroe area to catch the show will be the Downtown RiverMarket on the Monroe side or the across the river on the levee on the West Monroe Side. No matter where you are celebrating your Independence Day, make sure it’s a spot with a great view of the CenturyLink Star Spangled Spectacular.

  1. Zoobilation

August 6- Hip Hippo Hurray, it’s finally Zoobilation day! Join the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo as they host Zoobilation 2016: Hip Hippo Hooray. This family fun day will start off with a Zoo Run 5k walk/run/fun run through the zoo and Bernstein Park. After the Zoo Run, be prepared for a fun day filled with animals, education, boat rides, arts, and music. Don’t forget about the ZOOasis Splash Pad to cool off from the summer heat.

  1. Red Grape Stomp Fest
I Love Lucy Look-a-likes at Landry Vineyards

August 27- Landry Vineyards‘ Outdoor Concerts are known for their wine, food, music, and fun but if you only choose to only attend one this summer make sure it’s Red Grape Stomp Fest. This unique event is unlike any other in the area. Guests are encouraged to come dressed straight out of the 1956 I Love Lucy episode “Lucy’s Italian Movie”, and prizes will be awarded to the best Lucy impersonator. You will even have a chance to stomp grapes just like Lucile. Music for the evening will include a mix of Classic Rock and R&B music that will have you, family & friends dancing all night. Make sure you pack your lawn chair, blanket and picnic dinner and enjoy the outdoor show.

With these events, summer 2016 is sure to be one for the books. So turn off the Netflix, get off the couch, and enjoy a day in beautiful Monroe-West Monroe. Find information on these events and many more happenings in Monroe-West Monroe on our Calendar of Events.


Coca-Cola BBQ Wings from the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens

by Tanya S.

Biedenharn Coke Truck
Coke truck and signs at the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens

Anytime is a good time to enjoy a Coke but summer time is a special time to remember childhood memories while having fun with your little ones and extended family. As you make new memories this year, here is a great recipe from Chef G. Garvin for Coca-Cola BBQ Wings for everyone to delight in.


  • 8 chicken wings
  • 2 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoon pepper
  • canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 Tablespoon diced jalapeño
  • 2 Tablespoon diced garlic
  • 3 Cup ketchup
  • .25 Cup chicken stock
  • 1 Cup orange juice
  • .5 Cup molasses
  • .25 Cup Coca-Cola
  • .5 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 Teaspoon paprika


Rinse chicken and split each wing at joint into two parts, then cut off tips. Season each side with salt and pepper. Fry the chicken in canola oil until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on paper towel to soak up excess oil. To serve, remove wings from mixture and place on a plate.

Click HERE for more great Coke recipes  and don’t forget to come to the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens.

The Biedenarn Museum & Gardens is open Tues. thru Sat. from 10am to 5pm. Free parking is available on three sides of the museum. The main parking area is located on Speed Avenue near the main entrance to the Coke Museum. Tour information, maps and tickets are available at the Museum Store located inside the Coke Museum. An unloading zone for buses is also located on Speed Avenue directly adjacent to the Coke Museum. Adults $6 Students $4 (Under 12 years old) Annual Pass $20 (a great bargain) Tickets may be purchased in the Museum Store, located in the Coke Museum building, at 2000 Riverside Drive (the corner of Riverside Drive and Speed Avenue).

Tanya is the Collections Curator at the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens. 

5 Reasons to check out Geeks Along the River

by Lindsey W.

Geeks Along the River at the Monroe RiverMarket is the Saturday in Monroe. Below is a list of 5 things you can’t miss.12717555_980816378659880_6904244874018903717_n

  1. Show off your costume design skills at the Cosplay contest. How well can you represent and embody your favorite characters?
  2. Do you have a four-legged friend that you want to join in the festivities? Geeks Along the River is also hosting a dog cosplay contest for your furry friends. Just bring a donation for the River Cities Humane Society for Cats.
  3. Local rock bands Ensilenced and All But Brave will perform that afternoon!
  4. Come show off your gaming skills at the Magic: the Gathering and Super Smash Brothers tournament! There is a $15 entry fee. You can pre-register HERE.
  5. Vendors will be set up for geeks and non-geeks alike to shop around. Come see what all the river market has to offer!

The market opens at 10 am and contests begin at noon. Game tournaments will begin at 11 am. For more information, check out their event page HERE.