How has the King Cake Festival evolved since that first edition in 2013?
I think it’s become part of the Mardi Gras culture in both a foodie and family friendly way. There’s the general table argument of “this is the best king cake” and “no, that’s the best king cake.” You know, there’s people sitting around having that argument, and the festival has become a great place to kind of settle it. So that’s the foodie part of it. As for being family friendly, we have music, a kids zone, a family fun run, and a lot of good food. It’s a nice, safe environment for families to come and enjoy Mardi Gras without the craziness that you sometimes experience at the parades.
Can you tell me where the proceeds go?
Every year we work to raise money for our Patients Assistance Program, which provides help for families that are struggling when their child is in the hospital. Maybe a kid is having surgery and mom and dad are out of work at the time, or maybe they have to take off of work while their child is in the hospital and they can’t pay for travel expenses or utilities. Maybe they can’t afford the little extra during the holidays. The Patients Assistance Program is there to help take care of that.
How does this festival stand out in New Orleans’ growing food festival scene?
Well the king cake itself is so unique to New Orleans culture! That’s a highlight in its own right. We have so many unique bakeries from this area providing the king cake. A lot of these bakeries are local businesses and the chefs are homegrown. Some of them are highly trained too, so it’s nice to see the mix that comes out.
What activities are you most excited about?
The kids zone is growing and I’m excited about that. It looks like we’ll have a partnership with the Insectarium, so I’m also excited to see where that goes. But we’re really kind of sticking with the tried and true—26 bakeries and our guests voting for their favorite king cakes.
In your opinion, what makes a truly great king cake?
That’s a tough one. I love to see what’s new and different. It’s really interesting to see the things that people from other countries have done and what they’ve brought to this melting pot and to our city.