The Making of a R’evolution in Mississippi
Celebrity Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto were looking for somewhere to grow. They were fresh off the monumental success of Restaurant R’evolution, which opened in 2012 in New Orleans, and they were looking to conquer new markets. As they looked at the national landscape, one thing was certain, food was moving south. Every city seemed to have a burgeoning culinary culture, and there was one place that seemed to be in the middle of it all.
To the watching world, Ridgeland, Mississippi may have seemed an unlikely location for two world famous chefs to open a new restaurant, but if there is one thing that’s always important with a restaurant it’s the location. The Jackson Metro area is ideally situated at the crossroads major interstate thoroughfares halfway between Atlanta and Dallas and halfway between the Southern culture mecca of Memphis and America’s culinary capital, New Orleans. The Jackson area also boasts a robust local culinary scene that led Folse and Tramonto to invest in the adjacent shining city of Ridgeland.
Chef Folse brought his passion for culinary traditions to Mississippi where he’s embraced and honored the culinary traditions that live here.
“This restaurant is not about Rick and me. It’s about the people and traditions of this state,” Folse said.
He told us that the year before they opened the restaurant, he and his team traveled the entire state, county by county.
Meet the World Famous Chefs
Chef John Folse is one of the most acclaimed chefs from the state of Louisiana, which is no small feat in the land of Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, and John Besh. He has been hailed as Louisiana’s “Culinary Ambassador to the World.” In his storied career, he took his love of traditional culinary ingredients and techniques everywhere from Cold War era Soviet Union to the Olympics in London.
Chef Rick Tramonto took a much different path. He grew up in tough inner cities and dropped out of school to help support his family by cooking full time with his first job at Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers, a fast food chain restaurant. Though shaped through the lens of a much different environment than Folse’s rural upbringing, Chef Tramonto’s culinary acclaim is itself extraordinary.
His hard-working global culinary journey included stops in New York, Chicago and several European countries. He even earned the Michelin Guide’s coveted red “M” while at the helm of the award-winning country-house hotel, Stapleford Park, in Leicestershire, England. Chef Tramonto eventually landed back in Chicago where he was named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in 1994. In 2002, he was selected as the “Best Chef Midwest” by the James Beard Foundation. The accolades and media adoration seem to continue pouring in.
Chefs Folse and Tramonto had known each other for years, but they really bonded when Tramonto came to Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to help with Chef Folse’s wide-ranging efforts to feed evacuees and rescuers. They announced their official business collaboration 2010.
The Seafood R’evolution Experience
As a result of their careful research into Mississippi’s culinary heritage, Seafood R’evolution features local items like Simmons Delacata, a premium cut of fish grown by Simmons Catfish right up the road in Yazoo City and Gulf shrimp sourced from Mississippi docks. These and many other locally inspired ingredients and menu items give this restaurant a sense of place that truly separates it from its sister restaurant in New Orleans.
The menu is where the concept shines brightest. Chef Folse’s passion for food is contagious, and it shines in the carefully considered Mississippi-inspired menu. Chef Tramonto balances his business partner by adding a plot twist to the play. He admits that he sees himself as the quirky outsider. He brings a Midwesterner’s perspective that pushes the envelope of the local cuisine to truly create a “revolution.”
After it’s opening, the beautiful space quickly became one of the metro area’s most popular fine dining restaurants. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the best new restaurants in New Orleans – but with a marked Mississippi slant. With a bustling casual bar area, stunning outdoor patio and multiple private dining rooms, this restaurant truly has something to offer everyone.
The palatial open concept kitchen is on full display and diners can watch Chef de Cuisine Payton Warren, Jackson’s 2016 Best New Chef, and his staff create their Southern cuisine.
We almost never miss a special dining event at Seafood R’evolution. They host multiple events throughout the year including wine dinners to Chef Folse’s favorite, the Reveillon Dinner, an homage to the traditional New Orleans Catholic feast observed after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Recently Sous Chef Simon Brown, a native of Scotland hosted a Robert Burns Supper, complete with bagpipes, haggis and Glenmorangie whiskey.
Want to experience the R’evolution? Here are our top tips:
- To meet the chefs in person, learn and have a complete culinary blast? Plan to attend a special event or cooking class this year. Book early, because they sell out.
- Seafood R’evolution is perfect for everyday dining and special occasions alike. Get a sample of the experience in the casual bar area where happy hour food and drink specials are offered most days.
- The sprawling restaurant is a welcome respite from a busy workday with plenty of space for privacy and servers that know what they’re doing. Gumbo and a sandwich in style never tasted so good after a really long Wednesday.
- The lush contour booths are the perfect spot to request if you want to get cozy with your favorite person and watch the world go by as part of an outstanding dining experience.
- Be bold and ask for help with the wine menu. There are some great values there, and their staff doesn’t expect you to know anything about wine. Tell them your budget and preferences, and they’ll fix you up. It’ll be fun.
- Don’t skip dessert. If you like cheesecake, the Orange Ricotta Cheesecake is divine.
Seafood R’evolution is truly one of the culinary gems in the state of Mississippi. Reservations are recommended, but not required.
Photos provided by Seafood R’evolution