225 Magazine [January 2023]

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People in the Capital Region Watchto PeopleWatch 2023 2023 LOCAL LEADERS IN SPORTS, MUSIC, TECH & MORE! Dr. Sanjay Juneja, whose @theoncdoc account has become a TikTok sensation JANUARY 2023 • FREE 225BATONROUGE.COM ARANCINI DISHES 15 MARTIN WINE & SPIRITS 67 SURREAL SALON 80


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People to Watch 2023

CONTENTS // 6 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com 15 Features 17 Who is helping locals plan for a ‘good death’ 22 How an Olympian is bringing wisdom to LSU Swimming & Diving 64 What beauty trends are ringing in the new year 80 Which costumed art event returns for the first time since 201 And much more… Departments 12 What’s Up 17 Our City 22 I am 225 26 Cover story 61 Style 67 Taste 77 Culture 84 Calendar
THIS MONTH'S COVER star— captured by 225 staff photographer Collin Richie—is used to being behind the camera lens. Dr. Sanjay Juneja is a TikTok sensation with over 6 million likes. But there’s more to his videos than funny dances. The hematologist and medical oncologist aims to help those impacted by cancer. He shares a range of info and wisdom for patients and their families. He’s even been invited to the White House and global medical summits. Follow him at @theoncdoc—and turn to page 26 to meet all of this year’s People to Watch in the Capital Region. COLLIN RICHIE

A surreal start

A FEW WEEKS after I moved to Baton Rouge, I found myself in a park surrounded by a crowd of people in homemade costumes.

It was a chilly evening in January 2015, and I was at that year’s Surreal Salon Soiree. The event showcases Baton Rouge Gallery’s annual Surreal Salon exhibition of pop-surrealist art. It’s a chance to come out, enjoy a few cocktails and admire a collection of amazing paintings, sculptures and ceramics curated from artists all over the world. The music, activities and entertainment usually spill out the gallery doors onto the lawn of City Park. And, oh yeah, everyone is in costume.

I love the way Jason Andreasen, the gallery’s president and CEO, explained it when 225 interviewed him for this issue:

“The show is going from 70 pieces to 700 just by virtue of everybody having their own costumes. They’re kind of part of the show for that night,” he says.

I’m pretty sure someone told me to wear a costume that night, and not being from here, well, I didn’t believe them. So when I showed up

in a boring, plain dress, I felt very much like the girl who didn’t get the memo.

A few weeks later, I’d have this experience all over again, as Mardi Gras parades started rolling and I quickly learned that the crowd is just as much a part of the show as the krewes.

I know the “Everywhere else, it’s just a Tuesday” saying that ends up all over Instagram captions this time of year has become a local cliche.

But truthfully, it’s kind of like we live this saying from Epiphany through Fat Tuesday.

The thing that most amazed me about my first Surreal Salon Soiree was how much of an artist everyone in Baton Rouge becomes just as a byproduct of living here.

Over the years, my husband and I have marveled at how many of our friends here have entire bedrooms dedicated to costume making. No, I’m not talking about a bedroom-sized closet, but an actual room with chests, drawers and armoires overflwing with glue, sequins, feather, tulle and sewing supplies.

Many of those costumes have been locked away these past few years, as local events have diminished due to pandemic concerns. But for the first time since 2019, the Surreal Salon Soiree returns Saturday, Jan. 21. Read our preview on page 80, and for your first taste of Carnival season, turn to page 77.

And there’s more to be inspired by, as our January issue features a fresh class of People to Watch in the Capital Region. Every year since 225’s launch, our team has selected a new batch of changemakers in the community. In this issue, you’ll meet the folks behind some of the biggest emerging events, causes, brands and movements in the city. Turn to page 26 for their stories.

Happy new year! I really hope you revel in all the magic this month brings. Because everywhere else, it’s just January.

What is a ‘death doula?’

I asked the same question before we started working on this issue. Thankfully, 225 features writer Maggie Heyn Richardson educated me on this topic, through a beautiful story she’s written for this month’s issue.

End-of-life doulas are a growing group of trained professionals who help clients plan “a good death.” For those who are dying—or who aren’t sick but just want to plan ahead for a day when they might be—these professionals provide not just emotional support, but medical directives, document preparation and burial plans. Most importantly, they help give clients a sense of closure and assurances that their lives mattered and will be remembered.

For this month’s feature, Maggie followed a death doula as she worked with a client on end-of-life plans. It’s a really special feature, and one Maggie poured so much passion into. Turn to page 17 to read.

225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 7 COLLIN RICHIE

Publisher: Julio Melara


Chief Content Officer: Penny Font Editor: Jennifer Tormo Alvarez

Managing Editor: Laura Furr Mericas

Features Writer: Maggie Heyn Richardson

Digital Staff Writer: Olivia Deffes

Digital Content Editor: Dillon Lowe Staff Photographer: Collin Richie

Contributing Writers: Mark Clements, Cynthea Corfah, Tracey Koch, Benjamin Leger, Elle Marie, Zane Piontek, Brooke Smith

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Events: Abby Hamilton


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Reader’s notes TOP

First Look: Shake Shack’s first Baton Rouge location opens its doors (and drive-thru)


White Light Night returns to Mid City. Here’s where to shop, eat, drink and more


On our November coverage of how the Keep Tiger Town Beautiful group is working to clean up the city’s litter:

“This has been one of the greatest improvements to our city in the last decade. She saw a problem and made a change. Thank you!” —@bdubmclove, via Instagram

“Working with Jennifer (Richardson) makes you realize you can make a difference, if you choose to. Look around and see what you can do to make a difference for the good in our community.”

—@arralee_, via Instagram

Re: our 225 Daily story about the metal marquee sign outside of Zippy’s Burritos Tacos & More— and how it isn’t afraid to say what everyone else is thinking: “Thank you 225 for such a wonderful article; both myself and my staff greatly appreciate it. Also, thank you to all of the people who have stopped and taken pictures and spread the good words that we have come up with. The world needs all the laughter it can get.”

—Zippy’s owner Neal Hendrick, via Facebook

About our November issue story on Danah Clipa, a local TikToker with more than 1 million followers: “Love her!!!!” —Kasi Kathleen Allbritton, via Facebook

“@danahbananaa is such a joy to watch every day! Love her connection with CAA. Her raw honesty, especially about mental health …(and crotch goblins ) makes her relatable for all ages. (I’m 42 and feel like I’m on FaceTime with a bestie when I watch her videos!)

—@suchisbliss, via Instagram

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First Look: Mimosa Handcrafted makes a big move without going too far TAYLOR MORAN ARIANA ALLISON
@225magazine The most-read articles at 225batonrouge.com
Analytics and comments are from Nov. 1-30, 2022.
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The Lakes at Harveston is Baton Rouge’s newest and most exciting traditional neighborhood — a thoughtfully-designed new home community featuring lakes, parks, and recreation trails. The luxurious community center includes a state-of-the-art fitness center, resort-inspired pool, outdoor cabana, and our Preservation Garden. Visit our Sales Center to learn more about our community and to discuss your new home.

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MOCKTAILS. LOW ABV BEVERAGES. Alcohol moderation apps. Dry January. Inspired by the preferences of millennial and especially Gen Z consumers, conscientious drinking has become a thing across generational lines.

“We’re really starting to see interest among our customers,” says Saskia Spanhoff, co-founder and executive chef of Cocha in downtown Baton Rouge, which has offered a zero-proof cocktail menu for more than a year.

“Zero-proof” is a term for nonalcoholic drinks, or mocktails, but it signals the use of high-quality, distilled “spirits” that read like vodka, bourbon or gin but have no alcohol content.

Spanhoff says the zero-proof trend is percolating in some highend restaurants across the country. At Alinea in Chicago, a Michelin 3-Star restaurant, founding chef Grant Achatz has become a kind of authority on the subject with his 2020 book, ZERO: A New Approach to Non-Alcoholic Drinks.

The concept is working at Cocha, too, Spanhoff says.

“We found our customers were looking for something beyond the use of sparkling water in a mocktail,” she says, ”so we thought going in this direction was a good fit for us”

It’s not just nondrinkers ordering from Cocha’s zero-proof menu.

“They’re drinkers, but they don’t want to overindulge,” Spanhoff says. “If you can offer them a very interesting, well-made (mocktail), they’ll actually mix that in over the course of the evening with regular cocktails and wine.” The restaurant also features zero-proof beers.

Such behavior is in keeping with the “sober curious” movement, which embraces a continuum of alcoholreduction strategies.

Cocha’s changing zero-proof cocktail menu currently has drinks made with Seedlip, a UK-based nonalcoholic, botanical spirit. Cocha’s Forsyth Park zero-proof cocktail features Garden, the company’s clear spirit made from distilled pea shoots, rosemary, thyme and spearmint. It’s mixed with cucumber juice, lime, demerara sugar and muddled mint. In the Jenny and Me drink, Garden is shaken with carrot juice, lemon, honey and fuego bitters.

“I think our customers just want good quality options,” Spanhoff says. cochabr.com

–MAGGIE HEYN RICHARDSON COLLIN RICHIE Cocha’s zero-proof cocktails follow the trend of high-end, alcohol-free drinks, for Dry January and beyond
ZERO January
The Forsythe Park mocktail
WHAT'S UP // 12 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com
The Jenny & Me mocktail

Where the good times will roll

IN RESPONSE TO the ongoing shortage of law enforcement officers in New Orlans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell is continuing a strategy deployed in 2022: shortening parade routes for the 2023 Carnival season.

The Crescent City has faced ongoing staffing challenges both within the NOPD as well as City Hall, which impedes the safety and organization of the city’s dozens of parades, the Mayor’s Office says

The Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council announced the decision in October. Earlier in August, Cantrell had speculated aloud whether Mardi Gras was even possible with the city’s number of commissioned law enforcement officers t an all-time low. Her office bacpedaled after an outcry from business owners.

Unrelated to the law enforcement shortages, the Krewe of Endymion also announced a major route change for 2023 and 2024. The storied parade, which takes place the Saturday before Fat Tuesday, will not

17th Annual Jewish Film Festival

Jan. 11-15 at Manship Theatre

JEWISH FILM FESTIVALS featuring works that explore the modern and historic Jewish experience take place in cities around the globe, and the Capital City has had its own such event since 2007.

This year, the Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival will screen four films over four days at the Manship Theatre.

The films wee chosen from dozens of submissions, says BRJFF co-coordinator Ara Rubyan, who organizes the festival each year with his wife, Julie Hoffman, and mother-in-law and festival cofounder, Paula Hoffman.

“We get 15 solicitations for every film we pick,” Rubyan says. “We look for stories that have a Jewish theme, but it’s a

roll along St. Charles Avenue and pass Gallier Hall due to the renovations underway on the Caesars Superdome. Instead, it will travel from Orleans Avenue to Carrollton Avenue, continuing to Canal Street, turning onto Tchoupitoulas and ending at Tchoupitoulas and Julia Streets. Stay up to date at mardigrasneworleans.com



THE LATEST RATE of preterm babies (those born before 37 weeks) in Baton Rouge, according to the 2022 March of Dimes Report Card, which issues an annual evaluation of states and cities on maternal and fetal health. Preterm babies are much more likely to have serious, long-term health issues. The Louisiana average was 13.5%, one of the worst in the nation, while the national average was 10.5%. Preterm births impact minority women in Louisiana at even higher rates: 14.7% for Native American women and 16.9% for Black women.

A thriller about a negationist (history denier) who rents a basement apartment from a French family

pretty wide spectrum. It could be a slice-of-life film or one based on a larger historic event. We’re looking for films tht invite the audience to make an emotional connection.”

Paula Hoffman and her late husband, Harvey, founded the festival in 2007 during a time when mid-sized Southern cities were organizing a Jewish film

festival circuit to complement established festivals in cities like Miami, Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco.

The festival has always been held at the Manship Theatre, Rubyan says, which has become Baton Rouge’s go-to arthouse cinema while remaining a hub for live music. brjff.com

—LSU gymnast and social media influencer OLIVIA DUNNE, to The New York Times in response to a controversy that ensued after a comment by Tara VanDerveer, Stanford University women’s basketball coach.

VanDerveer said she believed the



“Seven figures. That is something I’m proud of. Especially since I’m a woman in college sports. There are no professional leagues for most women’s sports after college.”
trend of female athletes using
ality to attract NIL
was a step back for women’s sports.
THE FILM LINEUP This year’s movies include:
For those traveling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, expect continued changes to parade routes
STOCK PHOTOS The Man in the Basement BRANDON GALLEGO COURTESY LSU ATHLETICS Karaoke Set in modern Tel Aviv Speer Goes to Hollywood Award-winning Israeli documentary Farewell, Mr. Haffman Set during the Holocaust
WHAT'S UP // 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 13
The Man in the Basement

Disco into the new year

Government Street just got a whole lot groovier. A disco-themed craft bar— playfully titled DIY Disco—opened last month. Guests can book appointments (or walk in, space allowing) to try their hand at one of 14 different crafts in various materials like paint, clay, yarn, leather and more. The space is decorated with repurposed records, disco balls and lots of art with enough room to accommodate 40 customers. The destination is currently BYOB, but once its bar opens, it will be slinging disco-themed drinks, such as the Disco Fever jalapeno margarita and the Foxy 75, a fruity take on a French 75. diydiscobr.com


New coworking space in Perkins Rowe

The Brewery opened in December, boasting workspaces, five meeting rooms, office and technology amenities and, of course, coffee and beer. Annual memberships are available. Learn more at thebreweryspace.com.

Zoës Kitchen out; Cava in Baton Rouge, meet Cava: a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant you’ll soon see all over town. The chain acquired Zoës in 2018, and is now in the process of turning the Capital City’s three Zoës locations into Cava restaurants. Expect a menu of pitas and bowls, possibly launching as early as this spring. cava.com

Tour a sunken ship

A hidden relic downtown was rediscovered because of the Mississippi River’s recent record-low levels. Now, you can take a 3D tour of it. Local engineering firmForte & Tablada created the virtual experience of the more than 100-year-old Brookhill Ferry shipwreck. It worked with the Louisiana Division of Archaeology to take high-resolution photos and laser scans. Check it out at forteandtablada.com/shipwreck.

Josh Williams

The LSU running back turned into one of the football team’s biggest success stories of the season. A former walk-on turned scholarship player and team leader, he recorded his career-high rushing yards (118) during the team's win over Arkansas. For Williams, it’s been a dream. He turned down offers to smaller programs for the walk-on spot at LSU, the team he grew up watching. When 225 profiledWilliams in 2021, he said, “I always wanted to come (to LSU). This is where I saw myself playing.” lsusports.net

Recycle those Christmas trees

Drop off un-decorated trees from Dec. 26 through late January at the following locations:

• Independence Park

• Highland Road Park

• Memorial Stadium

• Flannery Road Park

• LSU, lot across from the Vet School

A fresh Louisiana listen

Jeffrey Roedel released his third record, titled Caution, this fall. The hybrid album of poetry and music reads like a who’s who of the Baton Rouge arts and music scene. Collaborators include Cohen Hartman, Benjamin Herrington of Minos the Saint, Norbert Redmond of Kinky Vanilla, Emily Sholes Smith of Dela Memoria (Mississippi), New Orleans-based singer Thea Lissi, and Chicago-based (but Baton Rouge native) musician and comedian Matthew Sigur. Roedel (who is also 225 magazine’s former editor, as well as a longtime contributor) says he kept the album’s focus introspective, meditative and poignant. jeffreyroedel.com

In the bag

Baton Rouge is getting new garbage trucks, and anti-litter activists are calling them a “home run.” The Louisiana Stormwater Coalition and other groups have studied how loose trash that falls out during the collection process can wash into storm drains and contribute to flooding The new drop-frame side-loaded trucks protect the trash cans from the wind as they’re emptied into the truck. The trucks are also sealed so trash doesn’t blow out while the vehicle is in motion. Find out more at brla.gov

—Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill ahead of the band’s mid-November show at the Raising Cane’s River Center. Hill sat down with 225 to talk about the metal band’s legacy, current tour and future album plans.

Buzz feed
Fresh trees at Louisiana Nursery
“I have fond memories of Baton Rouge.”

Unique takes to try around Baton Rouge

Arancini, reimagined

ARANCINI MADE A cameo appearance recently in season two of HBO’s The White Lotus, and the Sicilian street food occupies a special place in the hearts of Baton Rouge diners.

Many first experienced it at Gino’s Restaurant. Late founder and Sicily native Mama “Grace” Marino introduced the fried rice balls when the eatery first opened in 1966. Served as an appetizer, it’s formed from cooked arborio rice, ground beef, peas and spices, then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. Patrons loved the dish, but almost always requested it accompanied by a douse of the restaurant’s homemade red sauce, recalls Grace’s son Gino Marino, who runs the establishment today.

“Nine out of every 10 plates we’d send out would come back to the kitchen asking for red gravy,” he says. “So we just started serving it that way.”

Grace Marino also introduced a seasonal version of arancini with crawfish tails perched in a pool of “pink” sauce, or marinara with the addition of cream, Marino says.

Along with Gino’s still wildly popular arancini, different versions appear across Capital City menus. Beausoleil Coastal Cuisine’s crawfish arancini, for example, is prepared with bits of fresh asparagus sautéed with onions and blended with arborio rice cooked with house lobster stock. Crawfish tails are folded in, along with Cajun and crawfish boil seasonings. Each arancini is rolled into a 2-ounce ball, battered with panko breadcrumbs and deep fried, says sous chef Cameron Gautreau, who created the dish. It’s served with grilled green onion remoulade.

“We feel like people find a connection between arancini and boudin balls,” Gautreau says. “Our goal is to take something familiar and elevate it.”

Check out these expressions of arancini, which means “little orange,” in Baton Rouge.

Charred corn arancini at Jubans

Blistered corn and rice are the main ingredients in this iteration, which gilds the arancini with fresh cherry tomatoes and parsley garlic persillade sauce. jubans.com

Seafood arancini at The Little Village

A shift from the restaurant’s traditional beef arancini (served with red gravy), morsels of Gulf shrimp and crab are blended with rice and deep fried in this small plate, then served with roasted tomato cream sauce. littlevillagebr.com

Arancini at La Contea

This cheese-centric rendition sees fresh mozzarella, Parmesan and fontina rolled with rice, breaded, fried and accompanied by marinara. laconteabr.com

Mushroom and artichoke arancini at Cocha Cocha blends arborio rice with artichoke hearts and fresh local Lion’s Mane ‘shrooms from Mushroom

Maggie’s Farm to create a rich, vegan version, served with horseradish cashew cream sauce. cochabr.com

WHAT'S UP // 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 15
Beausoleil Coastal Cuisine’s crawfish arancini

Half of your healthcare is in the stories you share with us. Because before you’re a patient, you’re a person – and what you’re thinking, feeling and hoping for can help us to personalize your recovery and improve your outcome.


How to

rest in peace

End-of-life doulas help clients plan a “good death”

KARLA KING CONSIDERS herself to be a healthy person. She’s practiced yoga for 30 years and eats right. She’s involved in the community and has been a longtime volunteer at both the Baton Rouge Gallery and WHYR community radio station. The former performing arts costume designer has pursued new creative outlets in retirement, like painting, learning the bass guitar and making jewelry.

There’s no reason to believe she’ll die anytime soon.

But last year King, 66, hired a “death doula,” a trained professional who helps clients create a plan for their final days. Working alongside physicians, nurses and hospice professionals, an end-of-life doula provides emotional support to those who are dying, helping them think through and document preferences that go beyond last wills and testaments and medical directives.

It’s based on the work of birth doulas, who support families through pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period, a service that has grown in popularity across the country, and in Baton Rouge, since the 1980s.

Death doulas tailor their work to each family’s needs. Their services could include documenting funeral details, identifying where a person wants to be when they die, who they want at the bedside, what stories they might want to record for posterity and any other instructions regarding their death and dying process.

“It’s a strange thing, but when you pass that age 65 mark, and you’ve lost people around you, you see what can happen when things are left undone,” says King, who is married and has an adult stepdaughter. “It can leave a burden of suffering and unnecessary grieving on the living.”

Robin Palmer Blanche is a certified end-of-life doula in Baton Rouge. A growing practice across the country, death doulas help clients prepare end-of-life plans.
225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 17

A good death

Last September, King hired Robin Palmer Blanche, a certifid end-of-life doula in Baton Rouge.

It’s a second career for Blanche, a young adult novelist and former movie and television producer who has worked extensively with Lifetime and MTV. Blanche moved to Baton Rouge in 2013 after meeting her future husband, a Baton Rouge native, while she was shooting an MTV movie in New Orleans. She continues to work as a television screenwriter.

Blanche, who has two elementary-age children, says she was drawn to the end-oflife doula fiel after a personal health scare in 2021. Blanche was diagnosed with stage one follicular lymphoma, and while the cancer was treatable, the episode made her consider what she would do if her own death was imminent, she says.

“It made me think, ‘If I were to find I had a finite amount of time to live, how would I want to spend it? And what would I want to leave behind to lessen my family’s grief?’” Blanche says.

While it’s still a niche field, death doula numbers have been growing since the pandemic.

The National End-of-Life Doula Alliance currently has about 1,300 members across the country. In 2019, it had about 200.

The option to use a death doula is slowly becoming better known, says The Hospice of Baton Rouge Executive Director Catherine Schendel, who recruited New Yorkbased death doula and TED Talk speaker Jane Whitlock to address a palliative care symposium the local nonprofit hosted a few years ago. A big part of a death doula’s work, Schendel says, is providing emotional support through a diffilt time, while also helping

families remove uncertainty about a dying person’s wishes.

“Knowing what your loved one would have wanted you to do is so important because there’s a lot of guilt that complicates things when (survivors) aren’t sure,” Schendel says. “For the family, it’s only later that they’re left with those things to unpack mentally, and they wonder, ‘Did I make the right choices and do the right things?’”



What is an end-of-life (or death) doula?

End-of-life doulas (EOLDs) provide non-medical, holistic support and comfort to people preparing for, or experiencing, end-of-life by offering education and guidance; emotional, social and spiritual care; logistical and practical assistance, and more—before, during and after death. Endof-life doulas complement and supplement the work of family and other caregivers (including hospice providers).

Source: the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance

Blanche completed her first death doula certifiction in 2021 with New Jersey-based International End of Life Doula Association and is trained in endof-life support for both dementia patients and terminally ill children. After the pandemic pushed many trainings online, Blanche has been able to earn certifictions from home in Baton Rouge. She’s currently working on one concerning grief counseling. She’s worked with four clients who have since

Karla King (pictured, right) considers herself to be a healthy person, but last year she hired local certified death doula Robin Palmer Blanche (pictured, left). Blanche is helping King think ahead to her funeral, burial and end-of-life plans.
OUR CITY // 18 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com
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died, and is working with about six more who are in various stages of planning.

Blanche uses her background as a writer to help her clients document everything from detailed advanced directives to extensive family histories. She also provides the latter service to older clients around the country who aren’t sick.

The concept of a “good death” versus a bad one is something Blanche has pondered most of her life. At age 6, she lost her mother to suicide.

“It was so sudden,” she says. “And the whole process, especially the grieving process, was truncated. She died, and it was never talked about again. There were a lot of repercussions to that, and I felt cheated in a lot of ways.”

By contrast, Blanche’s father’s death in 2019 gave her a chance to see the value of reaching a peaceful closure. He was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and died a few months later in Phoenix, she says.

“His death was so life-affirming because we had every conversation we wanted to have, and there was nothing left unsaid,” Blanche says. “Every time I got on the plane to come back to Baton Rouge, I thought, ‘If I get a call when I get off he plane that he’s gone, we’re good. We’ve said everything we needed to say.’”

Baton Rouge physician Kate Freeman, who treats patients 65 and older, says that while conversations about death are uncomfortable, it’s important to speak openly and frankly about it.

Owning the process

King initially met Blanche through mutual friends, but when she learned about Blanche’s death doula work, she was intrigued and hired her.

“I felt really comfortable with Robin,” King says. “My husband and I have had our wills for many years, but I wanted to get this stuff on the table.”

King says she’s working with Blanche to think through the type of funeral she wants to have (it’ll be unconventional and won’t involve a funeral home), what she wants done with her remains and how long she would want to prolong treatment for a terminal illness. She’s even considered the last

garment she might wear.

“A friend of mine, who is also a costumer, sent me something about custom designs for end-oflife garments, and I thought, ‘No, I’m fine with just a clean white sheet,’” she says.

King says she likes the idea of weighing every aspect of her final days rather than defaulting to social norms.

“We’re only given certain options, but there are many more out there about how we die,” she says. “As I’ve aged, I guess I’ve become very realistic about life and death. How can we honestly say we’re living if we’re not preparing for this inevitable thing that we aren’t going to escape?”

Blanche named her end-of-life doula business You Were Here, because she says the chief concern among the dying is that they’ll recede in the memories of their loved ones.

“Studies have shown that when people think about dying, their biggest fear is not pain. It’s not what’s going to happen to them in the afterlife. It’s the fear of being forgotten,” Blanche says. “So this is about being intentional with that remaining time and documenting how you want to be remembered.”

For King, the regular meetings with Blanche have been cathartic and even “exciting,” because it’s allowed her to take control over decisions most people don’t want to think about.

“I’m someone who is very curious,” King says. “I want to think through all my options.”

And that’s the bottom line, Blanche says. Death doulas are there to help a person in the final phase of life feel supported, and to some extent, still in control.

“We’re powerless over dying,” Blanche says, “but not we’re not powerless about how we spend that time before we die.”

The current number of members in the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance. This represents a large recent growth in trained end-oflife doulas. In 2019, the organization had about 200 members.

“We seem to regard death as optional in our society, not inevitable,” Freeman says. “Having these conversations gives people a more active role in the decisions they and their family might have to make. It gives people a chance to say, ‘What would a good death look like?’”

“We seem to regard death as optional in our society, not inevitable. Having these conversations gives people a more active role in the decisions they and their family might have to make. It gives people a chance to say, ‘What would a good death look like?’”
—Baton Rouge physician Kate Freeman, who treats patients 65 and older
OUR CITY // 20 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com
“We’re powerless over dying, but not we’re not powerless about how we spend that time before we die,” Blanche says.
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Leah Stancil

LSU SWIMMING & DIVING’S new associate head coach has more than just the eye of the tiger.

Leah Stancil joined the coaching team this fall, eager to share her wisdom and expertise with students—and to learn from the team’s head coach, Rick Bishop. He joined the team in 2021, fresh off a successful stint with the Hong Kong National Team at the Tokyo Olympics.

“He has accomplished things that are very inspiring to me,” she says.

Many would say the same thing about her own coaching and leadership skills.

Most recently the head coach of Tulane’s swimming and diving team, she brought the school to new heights. During her four-season tenure, it not only racked up 19 school records but also qualified two thletes for the NCAA Championships.

Before becoming a Louisiana resident, Stancil cut her teeth coaching at the Savannah College of Art, the University of South Carolina and University of Florida (her alma mater). She helped coach the Gators’ women’s team to the 2010 National Championship and 2009 SEC Team Championship.

She relates to her student-athletes not just with experience competing at the top of the SEC and the NCAA—but at the top of the sport, period. Originally from Bridgetown, Barbados, she was only a teenager when she first competed t the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she finished just shy o a medal, placing fith in the 50 freestyle and becoming the first Black woman in history to reach the Olympic final in the event

She’d go on to compete again in 2000, as well as in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. And it was during those years that she rewrote Barbados’ national records in sprint events, reaching top times in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 50 butterfly and 100 butterfly in both long- and shot-course events.

Nearly two decades later, she brought her Olympic journey full-circle, coaching the Barbados National Team in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 World Championships.

“Coaching was definitely diferent and easier than being an athlete,” she says, reflecting back on the xperiences. “As an athlete, you must stay focused and engaged, which can be mentally tiring. As a coach, your job is to be there for support and positivity.”

In fact, she originally wanted to be a sports psychologist and help athletes overcome mental challenges. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology. Coaching, however, made it more possible to work one-on-one with athletes—and she no doubt draws on her sports psychology training today.

“I teach (students) how to trust in their abilities and how to maintain a positive attitude,” she says.

Positivity is what has led Stancil through the toughest of times, from beating breast cancer to battling racism and stereotypes as a Black female athlete turned coach in a predominantly white sport.

“My experiences have toughened me up. I have had to work harder to be seen and acknowledged. I have been underestimated, but I have stayed focused and resilient,” she says. “Breast cancer showed me the importance of caring for myself and learning my limits. I could not have gotten through it without God’s guidance, protection and love.” lsusports.net

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“I love to see the shock and happiness on (students’) faces when they have accomplished their goals and exceeded their expectations.”

The sky is the LIMIT

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People 2023

to Watch

in the Capital Region

THE SKY IS the limit. Not just for the people you’ll meet on the next few pages—but for the city under their leadership, too. Each person in this year’s class of People to Watch has a vision to bring Baton Rouge beyond its borders.

Amy Vandiver launched The Flower Fest with the hopes that it would attract competing florsts and floal enthusiasts from all over the nation— while also proving there’s more to Baton Rouge’s festival circuit than food.

Aaron Scruggs is booking more touring musicians and themed nights at the new Chelsea’s Live. And Visit Baton Rouge’s Jill Kidder wants to put us on the map, literally, as she aims to rebrand the city and lure new tourists.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja and Jonas Fontenot are helping cancer patients, each in their own way, near and far. As executive director of the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, Lucas Spielfogel is coaching under-resourced students as they seek admission to their dream college, wherever in the country it may be. LSU and Southern University’s newly minted presidents are pushing forward two of the city’s biggest assets, with global implications.

Whether their work is in art and culture, science, education or sports, each of these individuals is making a name for themselves. Because they’re not afraid to put their heads in the clouds and dream of a brighter future.

And by the time they’re done dreaming, we can all hope to awake to a brighter Baton Rouge.

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Photos by Collin Richie Interviews edited for clarity and brevity

{ Dr. Sanjay Juneja }

AAS A TEENAGER, Dr. Sanjay Juneja suffered a serious car accident that rendered him legally blind for several weeks.

The damage to his retinas eventually healed. Today, he can see fine But at the time, the injury induced a moment of panic. One thing kept him level: His doctor gave him facts every step of the way.

“It was the education through each step of the process,“ he says, “that made a really scary thing less scary.”

Until then, Juneja had wanted to become a science teacher. After his injury, he was drawn to be a doctor, to help people face terrifying moments with clarity.

And with no affliction is tht need for clarity more desperate than with cancer.

“People still don’t really know what the implications of their stage (of cancer) means,” he says. “Why can’t they get that information in today’s world? ... That’s what brought me to social media.”

Today, Juneja is a hematologist and medical oncologist, the chief of oncology service at Baton Rouge General.

He’s also a TikTok sensation with over 6 million likes. His short videos offer lessons on different cancers, emerging treatments, and all sorts of oncological wisdom. Yes, he does sometimes dance and lip sync. But he maintains his mission: providing as much info as possible for cancer patients and their loved ones.

His unconventional outreach has earned him invitations to the White House and global summits with some of the brightest minds in medicine.

It’s easy to assume viral TikTok-ers would be click-crazed content fiends but a few things keep Juneja humble. First, his wife Dr. Lauren Juneja, also a hematologist and oncologist, helps keep his feet on the ground. Another is oncology itself:

“You see these people who are valiant and strong, carrying on in a situation that you couldn’t conceive handling,” he says.

The final is gounded in his heritage: “In Indian culture, there’s this whole concept of balance. It’s very unhealthy to be unbalanced,” he says. ”So if you receive attention or anything positive, you do not take it in vain; you take it, and then you put it outward.” Find him on TikTok at @theoncdoc

“People still don’t really know what the implications of their stage (of cancer) means. Why can’t they get that information in today’s world? That’s what brought me to social media.”
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{ Jonas Fontenot }


Wwas hired by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in 2008, he didn’t envision a career trajectory that would one day land him in the health care institution’s top spot.

But Fontenot, a Ph.D. medical radiation physicist recruited from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences/MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, quickly ascended through Mary Bird’s ranks. He amassed research dollars, developed new technologies used in radiation therapy and helped to expand the community cancer center’s status as a hub for both research and treatment.

A native of Crowley, Louisiana, Fontenot became chief of physics at Mary Bird Perkins in 2015, leading the cancer center’s well-regarded Medical Physics Program. Two years later, he was also tapped to simultaneously serve as chief operating office. Just for kicks in 2020, Fontenot earned an MBA from LSU.

This month, Fontenot takes over as Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s CEO, the final step in a multi-yar succession plan that identified him as outgoing CEOTodd Stevens’ heir apparent.

“I’m really excited about the future of the organization and where we’re headed,” Fontenot says.

Under Stevens, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center saw significant growth and big changes, notably the dissolution of a relationship with Our Lady of Lake Regional Medical Center and the establishment of a partnership with OneOncology, a national collaborative among other community cancer centers. Continuing to expand Mary Bird’s geographic and programmatic reach is a big priority for Fontenot. It’s a timely objective as cancer rates rise among aging Baby Boomers (and also younger generations worldwide), and the disease disproportionately impacts minority communities in Louisiana, Fontenot says.

“What I’m really looking forward to is expansion,” Fontenot says, “and having the resources, tools, people, technology, experience and expertise that we’ve developed over the last 52 years to be in a position to touch more patients and caregivers, and more communities.”

As chief of physics, Fontenot helped sharpen Mary Bird’s Medical Physics Program, which collaborates with LSU to train medical physicists, or specialists who develop new technologies and methods to ensure radiation is delivered as precisely as possible, maximizing impact on tumors while minimizing damage to healthy tissues. Fontenot attracted more than $4 million in research funding and has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed research papers.

Fontenot says one of Mary Bird’s strengths is its ability to combine a thirst for research, like the kind found in academic cancer centers, with the culture of a community center dedicated to helping regional residents best undergo the cancer journey.

“I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the years to visit other programs,” Fontenot says, “and there’s nothing out there that’s quite like this organization.”

Similarly, he comes into the new role with the ability to fuse a science background with business acumen, giving him a valuable skill set as he leads Louisiana’s largest organization focused solely on cancer care.

“If you come from science,“ he says, “you’re not afraid to fail.” marybird.org

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“I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the years to visit other programs, and there’s nothing out there that’s quite like (Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center).”

IIT'S NOT SHOCKING that the new president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge’s mission is to get more people to visit Baton Rouge.

But visitation in the Red Stick takes many forms, explains Jill Kidder.

The organization’s new leader knows all about that, having formerly helmed the Louisiana Travel Association and, under its umbrella, various tourism bureaus throughout the state.

Under her direction, Kidder plans for Visit Baton Rouge to reel in more visitors from key demographics, such as leisure travelers: people visiting for the sake of visiting, drawn to the city by its “fabulous, authentic Louisiana experience.” The components of that experience, Kidder says, are manifold: sports, music, cuisine, nature, film history, art.

Kidder also says she hopes to lead the organization to attract more group visitation, like sports tournaments and professional conferences, as well as the crucial demographic of international visitors.

But getting them here is only half the battle, she says.

“We can market all day and get those people here the first time but what we want to do is be sure that we also take care of what I call the potholes: the things that would keep a visitor from coming or make them not want to come back again.”

There are the issues we all know about, like crime or weather. But there are other small details that accumulate to determine the overall flavor o someone’s visit. For instance, Kidder named the hospitality workforce: If the city’s hotels and restaurants aren’t adequately staffed to service visitors, the city’s many other charms might end up overshadowed by poor service.

This makes a difference for locals too, according to Kidder.

“If tourism went away completely in the state of Louisiana, each household would have to pay an additional $1,100 a year in taxes,” Kidder says, citing 2019 research. “So our visitors save us money and improve the overall health of our communities.”

Ideally, Kidder says, what we’ll get is a self-perpetuating cycle: more visitors equal more potential residents. New residents become additions to the workforce. A greater workforce will attract businesses, which bolster both culture and economy. And with those departments strong, more visitors will come and start the whole thing rolling again.

That evolution of the city would also mean changes in how Visit Baton Rouge represents it, which is why the organization plans to rebrand in the coming years, likely by 2026, Kidder says.

“What is it that visitors think about this destination, and what do we want them to envision when they come here?” Kidder says. “What kind of experience can we really provide for someone, and what is that story that we want to tell here?”

These are the questions Kidder and her organization will endeavor to answer in a brand overhaul. Now, just what this new brand will look like is a question it’s still a little early to answer. Kidder says the effort will be fueled and informed by hard data, with Visit Baton Rouge deploying teams of researchers to poll both residents and potential visitors about how they perceive the city in order to synthesize a compelling, contemporary brand.

“What we want to do is produce an image in the minds of our visitors and our potential visitors that Baton Rouge is a wonderful experience and a great place,” Kidder says. visitbatonrouge.com

Jill Kidder
“What is that story that we want to tell in Baton Rouge?”
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IIN MARCH 2020, Olivia Stewart found herself often on the porch of her family home in Pointe Coupee. She had just fled NewYork with her fiancé in hopes of waiting out lockdown somewhere with fewer people and fresher air. That land was where she’d grown up, and where her family had cultivated sugarcane since 1859.

But as she sat on the porch, she overheard her father on the phone, talking about debts, layoffs and trifles imperiling the family rum distillery, known then as Three Roll Estate.

“I could just see the toil and stress it was causing him,” she says now. “That’s how it started.”

Until then, she’d only intended to wait out a hot moment in the pandemic before returning to her promising career in New York’s art galleries. But the more she heard from her father, the more she thought it might be right to stay and lend a hand. She started off “slinging sanitizer”— a pandemic-induced pivot for the distillery–and then moved on to overseeing its tasting room and social media.

Now, almost three years later, Stewart is the president of the freshly rebranded Oxbow Rum Distillery. Stewart was instrumental in that rebrand, which aims to push the distillery’s heritage to the forefront. The goal is to tell the story of the centuries-old family cane fields tht lie on the fertile banks of the Mississippi River oxbow known as False River.

Stewart says she wanted to rename the company something more personal, easier to explain and “frankly a bit sexier."

The rebrand runs deeper than aesthetics. She says one of her first moves as pesident was bringing to light a dark historical fact: The family’s sugarcane plantation once relied on slave labor. A stain like that cannot be expunged, she says, but she wants to ensure Oxbow helps mitigate some ancestral suffering. This means contributing to nonprofits reviewing hiring practices and sourcing supplies from people of color.

“While showcasing our longevity and history, it has also been important to acknowledge all aspects of our history,“ she says, “and play an active role in the community, (focusing) on a progressive way forward.”

She hopes that progress will contribute to the bright horizons she sees ahead of Oxbow. The rum is currently available across Louisiana. Its next target: national distribution.

“There really isn’t a brand that has claimed the authority in American rum yet,” she says. “I envision Oxbow as being that.”

Today, Stewart speaks of her plans for the company with a fervor that makes it hard to envision the high-browed gallerist she might have been. She recalls her sister once asking if she’d ever consider coming home to work in the family distillery.

“I was like, ‘No way, absolutely not. I’ve worked too hard and too long in my art world career,’” she says now, with no small dose of irony. “But the universe, or God, or whoever, had other plans.” oxbowrumdistillery.com

“There really isn’t a brand that has claimed the authority in American rum yet. I envision Oxbow as being that.”
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{ Olivia


IT ONLY TAKES a quick glance at headlines to see the importance of investing in LSU’s assets, says William F. Tate IV, named president of the LSU System and chancellor of its flagship campus in Baton Rouge in 2021.

An accomplished scientist and researcher who was recently elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Tate points to the war in Ukraine to demonstrate the importance of agriculture, fuel and other areas impacted by destabilization. Situated in a port-rich state that is pivotal to America’s energy infrastructure, LSU’s programs have the potential to make vast contributions to the greater good, he says.

That belief is infused in Tate’s Scholarship First Agenda, a five-point plan that promotes investment in programs across the LSU System that focus on agriculture, biotechnology, coastal studies, defense and energy.

“I keep telling people this is our Sputnik moment,” Tate says. “The Ukraine situation makes clear that those five aeas, which we want to be world class in, are vital, not just to the people of Louisiana, but to the people of the United States.”

In this year’s legislative session, LSU received more than $110 million in one-time funding for 2023, as part of the largest state funding increase ever for Louisiana higher education, according to Tate’s office The funds will be used for new projects related to each of the plan’s five points including funding to support faculty

pay raises—a key component in keeping talent, he says. LSU also received funding for new cancer-related jobs at the LSU Health Sciences campuses in New Orleans and Shreveport, part of a push to expand the system’s participation in cancer research. In another project, the university now has funding to establish a system-wide computational infrastructure intended to support higher levels of collaboration and research.

Tate, the former provost at the University of South Carolina, holds degrees in economics and mathematics. With a passion for science that began in childhood, he says he appreciates the certainty of STEM fields but adds the culture of LSU extends beyond them.

“We have world-class music and opera. We have great people who write in the humanities,” he says. “And we want to make sure those flourish because understanding the human condition through the lens of the humanities might get us out of some of the problems we’re in right now.”

Sports are essential too, he says, acknowledging the power of the LSU Athletics brand.

Few jobs in greater Baton Rouge are more high-profile than lading LSU, an institution that touches the lives of nearly every local resident, whether they’re alumni, employees, faculty or fans. Tate distills his role into three targets: strategy, resource development and communication. And he relies on two factors to get the job done.

“Passion and point guards,” he says, referring to his lifelong zeal for scholarship and his reliance on LSU’s deans and top administrators. “Point guards can score, rebound and shoot, and they can do what they need to do to make sure we’re progressing.” lsu.edu

“I keep telling people this is our Sputnik moment. The Ukraine situation makes clear that (the programs) we want to be world class in are vital, not just to the people of Louisiana, but to the people of the United States.”

{ William
COVER STORY // 32 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com



DBRINGS an especially poignant perspective to the value of higher education.

As Southern University’s new presidentchancellor prepares to grow the school system’s enrollment, leverage new resources and expand curriculum programs, the native of rural Iowa draws from a childhood in which education was a badly needed salve.

“I come from sort of unusual origins,” says Shields, who was appointed president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University and A&M College last July. “I spent the first five ars of my life in a Catholic orphanage, and after that grew up in a foster home, a boys’ home and another foster home.”

Concerned and caring adults in Shields’ life believed in his ability to excel in the classroom, he says, encouraging him to aim high. Shields earned an undergraduate degree from Graceland College in rural Lamoni, Iowa, followed by a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law.

“Law school gave me a portal into a life that I would never have imagined when I was 10 years old living through what I did,” Shields says. “That’s how I see higher education’s core mission. Every decision I make, as a leader of this institution, is through the lens of ‘How does this help our students succeed and have great outcomes?’”

After graduating from law school, college admissions became a point of interest for Shields, particularly concerning diversity and inclusion. It shifted his focus away from the idea of practicing law to working in higher education. He held positions in admissions at the Iowa College of Law, University of Michigan Law School and Duke University School of Law. Later, he served as dean at Phoenix School of Law and vice president for student affairs at The City College of New York.

Today at Southern University, 70% of students are the first geneation in their family to attend college, Shields says, fortifying his enthusiasm for creating a learning environment that fosters success. It was one of the factors that contributed to his leaving his role as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Platteville to lead Southern.

“Southern University presented an interesting opportunity,” Shields says. “It’s the only historically Black university system, and it has a storied history. To be affilited with it is a privilege.”

A Midwesterner by birth, Shields says he welcomed the chance to not only help Southern grow, but also to further its connection to Baton Rouge.

“I’m a big believer in being a steward of place,” he says. “And as a university system, we have a real opportunity to connect Southern with Scotlandville here in Baton Rouge and connect the system’s other campuses to New Orleans and Shreveport. The ability to make an impact locally, statewide, regionally and nationally is not the kind of opportunity presented by very many institutions.” subr.edu

Shields }
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“Southern University presented an interesting opportunity. It’s the only historically Black university system, and it has a storied history. To be affiliated with it is a privilege.”

Flau’jae Johnson

IN HER COLLEGE commitment video announcing she would be signing with LSU, Flau’jae Johnson showed her high school basketball clips set to the background music of her newest single, “All Falls Down.”

The video itself encompasses just how unique a talent the 19-year-old truly is. Not only was Johnson rated as a four-star prospect out of Sprayberry High School in Savannah, Georgia, but she’s also a rapper signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation record label.

Johnson—known in the music scene as simply “Flau’jae”—starts the video with the opening line “My journey’s different; I can’t snooze.”

The lyric may be an accurate one, but the more you come to learn about Johnson, the more you realize that “different” may be selling it quite short.

She’s the daughter of the late Jason Johnson, who was an upand-coming rapper well-known in the South as “Camoflauge” befoe he was murdered. His death fell days before he was set to sign a contract with Universal Records and just months before the birth of his daughter.

“(My childhood) definitely made me tough” Johnson tells 225. “I had to become a dog. … Sometimes where you come from, you’ve got to do something different in order to (succeed). You’ve got to be tougher. You’ve got to be stronger.”

Johnson calls her father the inspiration behind her budding music career, which has already made its way into the mainstream.

She appeared in season three of Lifetime’s The Rap Game at age 13, and a year later was featured on season 13 of America’s Got Talent, making it all the way to the quarterfinal ound.

“I started rapping at like 7 years old,” Johnson says. “As I got older, I really fell in love with making music and coming up with different sounds and playing with different types of lyrics and instruments.”

Around that time she was also cutting her teeth on the hardwood. All the kids in her neighborhood—mostly boys—would meet at the local court for pickup games. That’s where the younger, smaller Johnson developed her thick skin and hard-nosed style of play.

“I knew since I was playing against the boys at the YMCA that I was going to be great,” Johnson says. “They never used to let me play because I was a girl and I was little. I’ve known (I was special) since I was little. As I got older, it’s just the confidence tht I have in myself.”

That confidence ledJohnson to become the No. 26-ranked high school prospect, according to ESPN, and earned her the prestigious title of McDonald’s All-American. She played in numerous high school all-star games and has already had her No. 4 jersey retired by Sprayberry after scoring a school-record 1,615 career points.

Johnson’s success has quickly carried over at LSU. At the time of publication, the true freshman had started all nine games for the undefeated Tigers, averaging 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assist and 1.7 steals per game.

“I feel like we can be great this year,” Johnson says.

On top of her regular academic obligations, Johnson plans on continuing to balance both basketball and music at LSU.

She doesn’t yet know where exactly her career path lies, but whether it’s in the studio or on the court, it’s hard to imagine a future where Johnson isn’t making it big.

It’s like Flau’jae said in her “Ready or Not” freestyle: “You keep shooting for the moon, you’ll have a seat with the stars.” lsusports. net/sports/wbball

“You keep shooting for the moon, you’ll have a seat with the stars."
COVER STORY // 34 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com

Spielfogel }



LKNOWS what privilege looks like.

He grew up in Florida as part of a family of comfortable means and earned an Ivy League education. As a white man with a support system, he moved through life with a sense of opportunity.

“I think about it almost like bowling with bumpers,” he says. “Some people have bumpers. No matter what, they’re going to hit pins.”

In Spielfogel’s profession, those pins are college admissions. He’s the executive director of the nonprofit Bton Rouge Youth Coalition, which assists under-resourced young students—called “fellows”—in the treacherous process of college application, entry and persistence.

The organization has gone a long way in supporting those fellows since its 2009 founding, particularly hitting its stride in the past year. It was ranked No. 1 in multiple categories of the Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Best Places to Work” 2022 review and was the top earner in the most recent 225 Gives donation drive. That’s not to mention the seven-fold increase in fellows served by BRYC during Spielfogel’s tenure, from 50 high school students in the 2012 school year to 370 students today.

Understanding just what these students are missing has been crucial, says Spielfogel, who before joining BRYC in its founding year taught 7th grade social studies at Baker Middle School. For the privileged few, “there’s a sense of the world being your oyster,” he says.

“Whereas, when you’re born in a position of not having that agency … you’re not feeling like you can make those moves (or) can advocate for yourself,” he continues.

While college counseling has always been and will continue to be a core focus of BRYC, Spielfogel says it also strives to plant that seed of agency with even younger students by training them in self-regulated learning. It’s learning how to learn: how to attack, digest and master academic material, rather than just focusing on grades. It’s an area he says contemporary education often fails, especially for students with less access to resources.

Reflecting on his decade with the oganization, Spielfogel can’t help but marvel at the environment BRYC has created and the work it enables—in part because it has not always been that way.

“We had to break eggs to make this omelet, and I broke plenty of them,” he says. “It took those really painful experiences and lessons to realize what we wanted.”

Still, he says it’s hard to celebrate the group’s progress when the need for its services is effectively infinite

“When a student with limited resources has access to this kind of support system, they can do amazing things,” he says. “Which should not be a surprise, because when a person has access to what they need, they can do amazing things.” thebryc.org

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“When a person has access to what they need, they can do amazing things.”

AMY VANDIVER BARELY has time to stop and smell the roses, let alone reflect on her accomplishments. But she has a lot to be proud of.

At 35, Vandiver is at the top of her game. She’s a busy mom of three, the owner of Clover Creative Agency and most recently, the founder of the Flower Fest.

At the heart of all these roles are the personality traits that help her succeed: She’s a helper and a hype girl. Whether she’s propping up clients’ messages with clever and calculated marketing strategies, graphic design and branding through Clover Creative, or indirectly helping children in the hospital through her events, she lives and breathes creativity.

Growing up, she always had supplies and resources at her fingetips for making art and building ideas.

“My mom was an art teacher, and my dad was a salesman,” she says. “Put those two together and you get a ‘me.’”

Though her current career fits her perfectl, Vandiver never thought she’d be where she is today. Having her first child her senior year of college and being thrown into a dental assistant job, she found that she’d quickly checked everything off her life list. But she wasn’t feeling fulfilled and through some hard life shifts, she started to come into her own in her 30s.

“Take whatever your timeline is and crumple it up, because it literally means nothing,” she advises. “I really thought I had it all together at 25. But 35-yearold Amy is much happier and healthier.”

One of those more meaningful—and exciting— shifts took place during the pandemic. Stuck in the house

binging Netflix she became fascinated by The Big Flower Fight, a reality television show in which florists compete by creating larger-than-life sculptures out of blooms.

AVandiver thought it would be an excellent idea for an outdoor festival in Baton Rouge to help struggling florists and allow people to gather outdoors during the pandemic.

Her thought was that Louisiana had plenty of festivals focusing around food and music. She wanted to showcase the talents of another breed of creatives.

So she created The Flower Fest. She planned the first festival in just 45 days, working resourcefully with her Clover Creative Agency client Pointe Marie to secure an ideal outdoor venue.

The first event was a hit with florists ceating oversized floal sculptures of spoonbill birds and the Louisiana State Capitol. In its inaugural year, the fest raised over $25,000 for St. Jude. In the second year, the event raised $40,000. But to Vandiver, that wasn’t enough.

For this year’s Flower Fest, scheduled for April 1-2, Vandiver enlisted a team of honorees, committees and committee chairs. She hopes to raise $100,000. In fact, she believes it will happen.

Though the festival is still in its infancy, Vandiver dreams of a day when all of the South (even all 50 states) are represented by florists As she sees it, The Flower Fest can drive tourism to the city.

Vandiver enjoys her work with her creative agency but feels like The Flower Fest is what will really carry on her legacy. She loves that her children have their own dreams that don’t involve taking over their mom’s business and hopes that what once was her small idea continues to make big impacts.

“I just never had a clue that my silly little idea could do this,” she says. “Knowing that there’s people who don’t think this is a crazy idea is pretty awesome.”


OLIVIA DEFFES { Amy Vandiver } “Take whatever your (life's) timeline is and crumple it up.”
KIMBERLY MEADOWLARK / COURTESY AMY VANDIVER COVER STORY // 36 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com


“I just want to keep building Chelsea’s brand. It’d be amazing to one day open another one—somewhere in the South, maybe another college town. And we want to eventually do our own festival. It’s kind of like a progression— whichever one comes first, comes first.”

AARON SCRUGGS IS no stranger to the music scene. He has played the roles of talent buyer and band manager and knows what it takes to make a good show.

And if you’ve been to a show at Chelsea’s Live in the past year, you may have seen Scruggs chilling at the box office vibing to the sound or slinking through the crowd into the green room to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Originally from Dallas, he got his start in the Baton Rouge music scene in 1999. When a talent buying position at the Spanish Moon venue opened up in 2004, he filled the spot until it closed in 2017.

Last year, Scruggs was one of the driving forces behind reviving Chelsea’s Cafe, an iconic local music spot that shuttered in 2015. But, giving the Chelsea’s name an encore performance as Chelsea’s Live wasn’t always part of the plan. In fact, Scruggs was initially interested in bringing back the Spanish Moon, a brand he worked so hard to build up.

The Spanish Moon building and brand had been purchased in 2017 by the owner of New Orleans venue the Republic. But when plans for reviving the venue dragged on for more than two years—and then faltered as the pandemic hit—Scruggs wanted to try to buy it.

He joined forces with his business partners, Grant Miller and Dave Remmetter (who owned the original Chelsea’s Cafe). In October 2020, the trio drafted up appraisals and plans. Scruggs even had shows booked for the venue. But the deal ultimately fell through.

“One day we were leaving the Moon after a meeting and we kind of just made a turn, and there it was: a ‘for lease’ sign for 1010 Nic,” Scruggs says. “We just flipped on a dime right thee and pivoted. It all happened within probably 20 minutes.”

Thus, Chelsea’s Live was born.

Scruggs and his partners went to work from March 2021 until the venue’s opening in January 2022, setting out to create the ultimate venue not just for the crowd, but for the performer. Because in his mind, if the performer is happy and feels at home then they will play a better show, resulting in a better experience for the crowd. He pulled inspiration from his years touring with the GIVERS, a Louisiana band Scruggs manages.

“Chelsea’s has a very European approach of how the space is utilized for the artist and every little nook and cranny is used,” he says. “A lot of American venues don’t really focus on the artist. It’s more about the bottom line and the bar, and we take a completely different approach.”

On opening night, the venue sold almost 800 tickets. It has since maintained large crowds at shows by diverse local and national acts, and has provided good times during themed nights and special events.

Though one could say bringing back Chelsea’s with a new venue has been a massive success, Scruggs says there’s more to come.

“I just want to keep building Chelsea’s brand. It’d be amazing to one day open another one—somewhere in the South, maybe another college town. And we want to eventually do our own festival. It’s kind of like a progression—whichever one comes first comes first” chelseaslive.com

COVER STORY // 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 37

{ The Mallard Bay team


Logan Meaux, a disappointing hunting trip led to a eureka moment.

FA couple of years ago, Meaux booked a surprise deer hunting excursion in Oklahoma for his dad, Waitr founder Chris Meaux. Hunting had long been an important part of their relationship, with countless weekends throughout the younger Meaux’s childhood filled with family stakeouts in duck blinds and deer stands.

But the Meauxs’ expectations for a fulfilling weeend were dashed. Thirteen other hunters were also on the outing, which they’d wrongly assumed was a private hunt. The duo didn’t fie a single shot, much less leave with trophies.

But the spoiled experience had a silver lining. It inspired Meaux, then a recent LSU grad, and a small team of others (Joel Moreau, Wyatt Mallett and Tam Nguyen) to launch Mallard Bay. The Airbnb-like online booking service connects outdoors enthusiasts with vetted, quality hunting and fishing xperiences.

The company, which is run out of LSU’s Louisiana Business and Technology Center, began taking bookings in November 2021. In just over a year, it has seen exponential growth, expanded listings to include more than 260 outfiters in 36 states and recorded 100% quarter-overquarter growth.

In the last six months, Mallard Bay acquired Bourbon Media, an outdoor excursion marketing firm allowing it to bring web development and marketing services in house. The company also recently secured an infusion of $1.8 million from angel investors.

“It’s kind of surreal for me,” says Meaux, Mallard Bay’s 24-year-old CEO. “And I know it is for a lot of our team members.”

The Mallard Bay platform allows outdoors enthusiasts to search for and securely book a variety of hunting and fishing trips from guided elk hunts in New Mexico to salmon fishing inAlaska, along with numerous offerings in Louisiana, Texas and a growing number in the Midwest.

The company spotted an opportunity not just to connect hunters and anglers with top-notch experiences, but to help outfiters, many of which have relied on antiquated booking methods, to improve how they market trips and accept payment, says co-founder and chief growth officerJoel Moreau.

“When we first set out we’re like, ‘Man, these people need a better way to find people to go on their trips’” Moreau recalls. “The more we dug into the issue, we realized there’s a host of issues that could be improved to streamline the process.”

In November 2022—the company’s first anniversary—Mallad Bay streamlined that process one step further, adding one of its most promising divisions yet: the Mallard Bay gear store. From a portal within the site, users can now shop for curated clothing and equipment appropriate for an upcoming booking.

“The gear market is even bigger than the trip market,” Moreau says. “It’s a very exciting opportunity.” mallardbay.com

“It’s kind of surreal for me. And I know it is for a lot of our team members.”
—Mallard Bay CEO Logan Meaux on its fast rise
COVER STORY // 38 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com
Mallard Bay founders Wyatt Mallett, Logan Meaux, Joel Moreau and Tam Nguyen

Childhood comes and goes in a blink.

We’re here through the stages of your life, with the strength of the cross, the protection of the shield. The Right Card. The Right Care.

01MK7641 11/21
40 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2023. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329 4600 SHERWOOD COMMON BLVD. SUITE 102 | 225-250-5309 | MODERNSKINFITNESS.COM | A NEW APPROACH TO SKINCARE BUILT FOR YOU FREE SKIN ANALYSIS THRU JAN 2023 Come in for a complimentary skin analysis using our Veraface by Zemits. Pinpoint texture, UV damage, sensitive areas and so much more with the touch of a button. Our trained aestheticians will formulate a skincare regimen to target your problem areas and keep your skin youthful and healthy. SKINCARE | SKIN RESURFACING | BODY SCULPTING | SKIN TIGHTENING | WAXING


Let this be the year you get physically fit and mentally healthy. Learn how to achieve balance in your life with these tips from local health and beauty experts. It’s time for you to become your best self!


Our Expertise

We are fellowship trained in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery and have experience helping patients achieve successful outcomes through weight loss surgery. We continue to raise the bar and bring the best technology to our patients, giving them more options and the highest caliber of care right here in Baton Rouge.

What We Offer

Weight loss surgery is an effective tool for those who are obese and have been unsuccessful losing weight through diet or exercise. We perform surgery including gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. Our program was created to set you up for success – from your initial appointment with our team, to preparing you for surgery day, recovery, post-op nutrition, support groups and mental health support to help guide you through the life changes that come with significant weight loss.

Minimally Invasive Weight Loss Surgery

The benefits of minimally invasive weight loss surgery include smaller incisions, reduced scarring, shortened surgery and faster recovery time. Both gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy can be performed with a less invasive approach. Baton Rouge General Advanced Robotics Institute WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY 8585 Picardy Ave., Suite 318, Baton Rouge LA 70809 225-333-3800 ADVANCED ROBOTICS INSTITUTE
Karalyn R. Bentley, MD, FACS To learn more about our Advanced Robotics Institute, scan this QR code or go to BRGeneral.org SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
N. Bruno, MD


At Future Fitness, we take your health personally. If you’re ready to feel and look great, our trainers will help you achieve your goals.

1650 Lobdell Ave. | Baton Rouge, LA 70806 | 225.928.0486 | futurefitnessbr.com |


Clean lids are key to dry eye management. Keeping your eyelids free of debris, bacteria, demodex mites, ocular rosacea, and blepharitis will lead to cleaner eyelids and fewer dry eye symptoms. We recommend an eyelid hygiene regimen performed twice daily ... like brushing your teeth to prevent cavities.

TRIO EYECARE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Dr. Reshma Amin 7673 Perkins Road, Suite B3 | Baton Rouge, LA 70810 | 225.757.0505 | trioeyecare.com | SCAN TO READ MORE


Has your doctor ever said to eat better and exercise? Probably so, but how do you do it? The “how” is with the Ochsner lifestyle and wellness team behind you— making a plan and guiding you along the way with small changes that add up to big results.

10310 The Grove Blvd. | Baton Rouge, LA 70836 | 225.761.5200 | Ochsner.org |
(From left) Jolie Relle, PA-C, and Dr. Rosa Folgar


Chronic vein disease is typically a genetic problem that affects both men and women. It is worsened by prolonged standing or sitting, weight gain, and pregnancy. It often goes unrecognized by patients or their providers for many years. An ultrasound is the first step in diagnosing chronic vein disease.

10101 Siegen Lane, Suite 3B | Baton Rouge, LA 70810 | 225.256.0102 | gittervein.com |
(From left) Dr. Patrick L. Bonneval and Caroline Fudge, MA


Work Hard. Play Harder:

This motto not only drives our therapists to perform at a higher level of care, but it also motivates us to find ways to educate and encourage our patients to do the same in their daily lives using the P.E.A.C.E. & L.O.V.E method. (See our blog.)

SCAN TO READ MORE 8080 Bluebonnet Blvd., Suite 110 | Baton Rouge, LA 70810 | 225.924.2424 | brortho.com | SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION


When our vision changes, it tends to happen so gradually that we don’t notice our glasses aren’t helping anymore. In most cases, vision-related headaches are from an outdated prescription, so be sure to find time for an eye exam ... especially if you’ve been suffering from headaches and don’t know the cause.

112 S. Range Ave. | Denham Springs, LA 70726 | 225.243.1950 | eagleeyecarela.com | EAGLE EYE CARE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION


Low back pain strikes almost every adult at some point, but simple exercises can help. You don’t have to join the gym or upend your daily routine. By adding just a few stretching and strengthening exercises every day, you can make a big difference in your comfort and mobility.

Harrod and
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SCAN TO READ MORE 7301 Hennessy Blvd., Suite 300 | Baton Rouge, LA 70808 | 833.774.6327 | spinecenterbr.com |
Dr. Matthew Neumann
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SCAN TO READ MORE 7941 Picardy Ave. | Baton Rouge, LA 70809 | 225.800.9420 | capitolpharmacy.com | (Standing) Randy J. Mire, Pharm.D, CEO and Founder (Seated) Kanoa Jo Mire, Business Development CAPITOL WELLNESS SOLUTIONS
BIT Many forms of medical marijuana are now available, giving patients a wide range of options tailored to their specific needs.


Waxing is not just about having fabulous eyebrows or a smooth bikini line. Waxing unwanted hair can offer many benefits to men and women. Whether you’re looking for a gentle exfoliation or to slow down hair regrowth, waxing is an efficient way to achieve smooth skin and a confidence boost!

18107 Highland Road, Suite 102 | Baton Rouge, LA 70810 | 225.228.1383 | waxcenter.com |
Owner Michelle Marino


We know that “where the woman goes, the family goes.” So we have expanded our women’s services to honor our mission to provide affordable, quality health care to our community.

781 Colonial Dr. | Baton Rouge, LA 70806 | 225.655.6422 | ohcc.org |
(From left)
Victoria Young, LPC, and Dr. Carol Patin


The aesthetic industry is often labeled as “vain” so we’re here to shatter that misconception. Our mission is to help our patients look and feel their best by providing the highest quality cosmetic injectables, laser services, and aesthetic treatments.

8221 Goodwood Blvd., Suite E | Baton Rouge, LA 70806 | 225.408.7515 | merakimedicalspa.com |
SCAN TO READ MORE MERAKI MEDICAL SPA SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Owner/Founder and Professional Makeup Artist Jessica Plaisance


Most people don’t realize how roughly they treat their nails. Caring for your nails properly not only beautifies their appearance, but strengthens them as well.

6725 Siegen Lane, Suite P | Baton Rouge, LA 70809 | 225.295.3047 | adorenails.us |
Adore Nails Team


It’s a New Year, and most of us likely resolved to make healthier choices this year, such as eating a healthier diet or incorporating exercise into our routines.

With American Heart Month being observed in February, now is the time to pay closer attention to your heart health.

“Heart disease is the number one killer in America, and we suggest making health decisions that are much more targeted,” explained Dr. Garland Green, interventional cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS). “By knowing your risk factors, making lifestyle changes and having regular checkups, you can maximize your ability to ensure that your heart stays as healthy as possible for as long as possible.”


For some, heart disease is hereditary. Risk factors such as family history, age and sex are out of your control. However, many risk factors can be controlled to greatly lessen your risk. These risk factors can be modified and influenced by your lifestyle and daily choices:

• Tobacco use/smoking

• High blood cholesterol

• High blood pressure

• Physical inactivity

• Obesity

• Diabetes

• Diet and nutrition

• Stress


A quick and easy way to keep tabs on your heart health is to understand your numbers. A visit to your doctor is all it takes to get these readings and to determine if they are within a healthy range. The most important heart health numbers to understand include:

• Cholesterol: LDL or “bad cholesterol” should be under 100.

• Blood pressure: The top number (systolic) should be under 120, while the bottom number (diastolic) should be under 80.

• Blood sugar: Blood sugar readings before e ating should be under 100 and under 140 if t aken two hours after a meal.

• BMI: Body mass index calculates body fat in proportion to height and weight. Healthy r anges are between 18.5 and 24.9%.


It doesn’t take hours of sweating in a gym to reap the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. In fact, just 20-30 minutes per day of moderate activity can help significantly in keeping the heart strong and healthy. For those who can push harder, 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise is all it takes to reap the same rewards.


This may be the most difficult goal to reach on this list, but it is also the most important. Cigarette smoke damages the body’s blood vessels, contributing to plaque buildup, stroke, heart attack and peripheral artery disease in the legs. Fortunately, quitting can reverse much of this damage. Learn how our expert team can help you by calling 1-877-288-0011.

CIS has clinics in Baton Rouge, Prairieville and Zachary. To schedule an appointment with a CIS cardiologist, visit cardio.com.

SPONSORED BY: Cardiovascular Institute of the South cardiologists in Baton Rouge include (from left) Dr. Amit Patel, Dr. Satish Gadi, Dr. Garland Green, Dr. Niksad Abraham and Dr. Robert Drennan.
SPONSORED CONTENT THE LOWDOWN 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 55

Routine check-ups are vital to your child’s overall health and development. In addition to performing a complete physical examination, your pediatricians will be able to provide preventative health screenings, vaccinations, psychological and behavioral assessments.

Cheers to a healthy New Year!

STUDIES SHOW THAT by February, most of us have abandoned all those resolutions we made in January. So why not take a new approach? Instead of pressuring yourself to stick to a strict plan, make gradual changes in your lifestyle that will improve your health over time. Eventually, they will become a habit and it will be easier to make smart choices on a daily basis.

Get ready—this may be your happiest, healthiest year ever!

SLEEP TIGHT: Poor sleep habits can lead to health issues like high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease. To get a good night’s sleep, limit your caffeine during the day, don’t eat late in the evening, keep your bedroom dark and cool at bedtime, put away your electronic devices, and turn off the TV.

STOP STRESSING: When you’re stressed, it’s easy to develop unhealthy habits, from eating too much to sleeping too little. Find ways to relax so you can reduce (or at least manage) the tension in your life. Hot tea, meditation, long baths, aromatherapy, or spending time with family and friends are great ideas.

TIME TO QUIT: If you smoke, it’s never too late to stop. You’ll notice the benefits of quitting almost immediately. Kicking the habit immediately lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke. Talk to your doctor for the best way to quit.

56 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com



GET MOVING: It’s easy to be overly ambitious about exercise at the start of a new year. Haven’t we all imagined ourselves going for daily 6 a.m. walks or riding our bikes 10 miles a day? But be realistic. Choose an activity you know you’ll enjoy and a schedule that will be easy to keep. Then find a buddy to help you stay on track.

LOSING IT: The recipe for weight loss is pretty simple and it starts with eating a healthy diet. If you have underlying health issues (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.), talk to a dietitian for a customized meal plan. Otherwise, just be sure to include fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, as well as leans meats, whole grains, and healthy fats.

PLAY IT SMART: COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. And this year, the flu has been especially rampant. For the health of you and your family, get your vaccines, flu shots and boosters ... and if you have concerns, check with your physician.

in 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 57
EMOTIONAL WELLNESS: Your mental health is just as important as your physical condition. When anxiety or depression interferes with your daily activities, it’s time to talk with your physician, who will refer you to a counselor or therapist.
Capital City Family Health Center logo Added Behavioral Health services. Admin building erected 2011 Name change and services started in charter schools 2016 CareSouth Medical and Dental Administration Building Groundbreaking Two additional locations; Plaquemine and Donaldsonville to increase access 2012 Received funding for the Ryan White Program 2010 Added to scope of services by adding OB/GYN services 2013 CELEBRATING 25 YEARS SPONSORED BY: First clinic was only medical, dental & WIC 1997 Capital City Family Health Center Begin offering school-based health services to head start centers 2015 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
Dr. Martin Luther King Center
CARESOUTH.ORG | 225-650-2000 | Added pharmacy services 2019 Increased access with purchase of medical mobile unit 2021 CareSouth Medical Mobile Unit Added gastrointestinal services to rural area and Southern University Health Clinic. Received quality awards 2020 Opening the new CareSouth Medical and Dental Shreveport Clinic Partnered with Woman’s Hospital to provide mammography services 2018 OF FAMILY SERVING FAMILIES! Added Zachary Behavioral Health location 2017 Added dental mobile unit services, received JACHO accreditation and added new location in Shreveport, LA 2022 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION


2023 has arrived faster than a sleigh full of toys pulled by a team of magical reindeer! And you know what that means—it’s time to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions.

For most people, the list starts off with the best of intentions ... lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more. Unfortunately, about 75 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions end up abandoning them by February. So how do we stick to the plan?

At LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, some of the world’s foremost researchers and scientists are constantly uncovering ways to create a healthier Louisiana and motivate individuals to make—and maintain—important lifestyle changes. This includes research in laboratories and in real-life settings and clinical trials. Pennington Biomedical then translates the discoveries made in the lab to health programs and community events involving an array of health experts, such as researchers, nutritionists, physicians and beyond. Who better than the


Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats such as turkey and chicken. Go easy on the red meat and limit your intake of carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta). Cut down on the sugar in your diet and if you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. Pennington Biomedical has a metabolic kitchen where dietitians have created hundreds of delicious and healthy recipes!


Exercise is extremely important and should be part of your daily regimen. Not only does exercise burn calories and help you stay fit, but it also improves sleep and elevates your mood. To stay motivated, make sure to choose an exercise you enjoy (biking, walking, dancing to music) and try to recruit a buddy to work out with you.


If you really want to make a difference in your health (and contribute to the health of others), consider one of the many clinical trials offered at Pennington Biomedical. Participants are needed for short-term and long-term trials that focus on dozens of topics—weight loss, intermittent fasting, pregnancy, menopause, physical activity (some by race and gender), memory studies, and more. Many clinical trials pay participants as well. Visit www.pbrc.edu/clinicaltrials.


Pennington Biomedical offers a variety of events and health programs for adults and children, as well as free information on diet and exercise. From its 222-acre state-of-theart facility, the Pennington Biomedical team is unlocking the keys to understanding obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and a host of other chronic medical conditions. Visit pbrc.edu for more information. And enjoy a healthy 2023!

SPONSORED BY: Pennington Biomedical team to offer advice for those who want to start off the New Year right?
60 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com

Sweater weather


Alice Blue black bow cardigan, $48 From Rodeo

Cuban Link Necklace, $100 Luxury Nail Bracelet, $35 From The Signature Collection

Bow heels Stylist’s own

INSIDE: Beauty and wellness trends for the new year
pullovers for January’s chilliest days
225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 61


Pretty Garbage Flame Cropped sweater, $65

Beulah Style Kendall Sequin sweater, $73

From Rodeo, rodeoboutique.com

Bold Lock necklace, $50, and bracelet, $45

Cuban earrings, $10, and multicolor stone earrings, $15

From The Signature Collection, getsignatured.com

62 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com STYLE //
EaT. Drink. Vote! You’re invited to be the FIRST to vote for the 2023 Best of 225 Awards For event details, scan here January 4 – February 8 NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN February 27 – April 3 VOTING IS OPEN February 27 | 5:30-7:30 PM | Solera | 4205 Perkins Rd Issue Date: JAN 2023 Ad proof #4 • Please respond by e-mail or fax with your approval or minor revisions. • AD WILL RUN AS IS unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hours from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2023. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329 Lucky Brand sweater in blue, $129 From The Garage, thegarage225.com 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 63 STYLE //

New Year, new you

Four self care trends and where to try them around town

Skin care for him

Who says guys can’t get in on pampering? Skin care and self care are good for everyone, so it’s only fair men can get in on all the relaxing fun of a spa day, as well. From facials to precise beard trimming, men can find local services to mae them feel as good as new.

WE GET IT. The hustle and bustle of the holidays can add unwanted stress, and sometimes that shows in your skin or hair. A great way to start the new year is with a relaxed and rejuvenated version of yourself, and there are plenty of beauty and wellness trends to hop

on that will help you enter 2023 with a bang. If you’re looking to brighten your skin with a facial or just want to treat yourself to a new look, January is the best time to start. Here are a few places to find the latest treatments and technologies.

Facial waxing for her

New to Government Street, Parker Barber and The Emporium are two spots offering treatments tailored to men. After a clean cut at Parker Barber, try a Botanical Refresh, an express facial that focuses on evening out complexions for a refreshed look. You can also add on a Hot Towel Shave, a Beard Detail or a Gray Blending treatment. Likewise, The Emporium offers a Gentleman’s Facial complete with exfoliation and extractions that target common skin care problems for men.


Makeup that lasts

If you love makeup, you might find the worst part is putting it on or taking it off. Luckily, there are new ways to create a longlasting look with the help of cosmetic tattooing and tinting. Take an extra step out of your morning and night routines by investing in a truly effortless look that will stick around for months or even years at a time.

Located in Electric Depot, BROWS Cosmetic Tattooing has an experienced, masterful staff of artists ready to give you plenty of permanent options. From forever freckles to long-term lip blush, these small tattoo jobs subtly enhance your natural beauty.

In Gonzales, check out Slay Your Brows. Owner Katrina Liza helps her clients reshape and create their “dream eyebrows.”

Liza also specializes in additional services like lip blushing and even makeup tattoo removals.

If you’re not ready for cosmetic tattooing, there are less permanent options, too. Lash lifts and tints give your lashes a darker and fuller appearance that lasts for months. You can also explore brow lamination, which essentially perms your eyebrow hairs for a fuller brow look.

From light peach fuzz to darker mustaches, it’s no secret women grow facial hair too. Though it is completely natural, there are options to get rid of this hair if it is unwanted. The best way to keep facial hair away is to schedule regular waxing appointments. Waxing pulls the hair from the source and stops it from growing back rapidly.

Adore Her Beauty, a woman-owned business in Baton Rouge, has gained quite a following in the community and on social media. Owner and licensed esthetician Reacee Wright shares beauty tips, skin care methods and, of course, professional waxing techniques for a process that can help limit hair growth on YouTube and TikTok. Adore Her Beauty offers other menu items like makeup application, facials and more.

You can also find a ange of options at spots like European Wax Center, a national brand that has opened several locations in the Capital Region.

Natural hair care at Black-owned


For Black women, the natural hair movement is a way to celebrate the texture and beauty of their hair. A movement that’s picked up speed since the ’60s with an increasingly notable uptick in the last two decades, many Black women have embraced the natural curls of their hair. And with the Louisiana Legislature’s passage of Rep. Candace Newell’s CROWN Act this past summer, natural hairstyles are protected from workplace discrimination.

Natural hair requires a lot of care and love. Luckily, there are plenty of Black women-owned salons in Baton Rouge with beauticians who are experts at styling natural hair.

Lin Devezin, the owner of Santé Salon, not only gives her clients natural hairstyles that they love, but she also educates them on how to properly take care of their hair type so that it can maintain its beauty. Through her salon, Devezin makes it her mission to allow other Black women to see their hair as a crown to proudly wear for others to see. To read a full Q&A with Devezin, visit 225batonrouge.com.

Men’s facial by Parker Barber Eyebrows by Slay Your Brows Hair by Santé Salon Waxing by European Wax Center
COURTESY SANTÉ SALON STYLE // 64 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com
225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 65
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Breaking bread

A taste of the much buzzed-about lunch counter at Martin Wine & Spirits

INSIDE: A meal to transport you to Kenya
225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 67

Lunch at Martin Wine & Spirits

About 225’s food critic: Benjamin Leger previously served as managing editor for 225 and was the editor of its Taste section from 2012 to 2021, editing, writing and steering the direction of its food coverage in print and online. He is passionate about all things food and food journalism, and has written about the greater Baton Rouge area’s cuisine and culture for nearly two decades.


6463 Moss Side Lane

Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

THERE’S SOMETHING about lunch from a deli counter that just feels like a small gift to yourself. You know the meats are going to be high quality. You know the bread will be fresh and toasty. And you know you’ll walk away satisfied but not uncomfortably full.

By now, we’re all familiar with Martin Wine & Spirits, the respected New Orleans wine store that’s had a location in Baton Rouge for nearly two decades. But after moving to a shiny new building across from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in 2021, the owners added a lunch counter serving sandwiches, soups and salads every day of the week.

One late November day, I made a lunch date with a friend to catch up and try out what Martin’s had to offer.

Even though it is still very much a bustling wine shop, there’s ample dining space here with more than a dozen tables inside and several more on the patio. As it was cold and windy that day, we opted for a table inside by the windows.

My friend had his eye on the Reuben, which seems to be a popular item, and I opted for the Smoked Salmon BLT.

I always appreciate places where salad isn’t an afterthought, and Martin’s has several interesting options. We decided to split the Martin Salad, and I added a cup of the soup of the day: Tomato Basil.

THE BASICS: Martin Wine & Spirits has been in the New Orleans area since the 1940s, and Baton Rouge since 2006. Its Perkins Palm location moved to new digs further down Perkins Road on Moss Side Lane in 2021, quietly adding a deli counter a few months later. Plenty of seats and a nice lunch menu have made this a popular spot for sandwiches and salads.

WHAT’S A MUST: The Reuben is a knockout, with flavorful and tender corned beef, sauerkraut an Russian dressing on traditional rye bread. The Smoked Salmon BLT features great-quality smoked salmon on toasted sourdough. We hear the Californian with oven-roasted turkey and havarti is also a favorite. The salads are plenty satisfying, too, with the Martin Salad offering a Cobb-like spread of bacon, chopped egg, radish and tomato on greens.

RESTAURANT REVIEW TASTE // 68 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com

The salad and soup came out first, and we were both impressed by the salad’s size. Arranged a bit like a Cobb, there were crumbles of bacon, chopped egg, tomato, slices of radish and avocado on top of crisp romaine and spinach. It comes with blue cheese crumbles, but because I’m not a fan, our server thankfully substituted shredded Parmesan.

The balsamic dressing we got on the side was kind of gloopy, but we were overall happy with the salad’s variety and freshness. It could easily be a full lunch for one person.

The cup of Tomato Basil soup was a respectable size, creamy and warming, but otherwise a fairly standard version.

Next came the sandwiches, which arrived quickly.

Friend, taking a bite: *closes eyes and releases a satisfid sigh*

Me, laughing: “Hang on. Let me write that down.”

flvorful, salty, oh-so-juicy and layered in that sweet spot between piled high and just a few slices.

I envied that he got to finish it.

smoked salmon tasted great, the sandwich on a whole was missing something. Maybe it was the spice of wasabi flvor, or some onions or capers to add a tangy bite.

For us, the Reuben was the winner of this lunch for its flavor and quality.

And quality is something Baton Rouge has come to expect from Martin’s. The wine selection is always top notch, so it’s nice to see that matched at the deli counter. It seems like the word is out, too, as most of the tables filed up during our lunch.

An added bonus: There’s a selection of wines at the counter, so you can get a glass with your meal if you aren’t heading back to work after.

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The Reuben featured grilled corned beef, melted Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread. I told my friend I expected his review once he took his first bite. Here’s how that went down:

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He passed it over to me for a few bites of my own. The rye was warm and flcked with those unique and pungent caraway seeds. The sauerkraut was tangy, and the cheese and dressing added mellow and sharp contrasts without taking over. They let the real star shine: the corned beef. It was tender,


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My Smoked Salmon BLT offered similarly ample slices of smoked salmon with crispy bacon, fresh spinach and tomato on a perfectly toasted sourdough. The menu also mentioned wasabi mayo, but I think my sandwich was slathered with traditional mayo on this day. We both agreed that while the

My friend and I unanimously vowed to return. We’ll both probably be clamoring for that Reuben, too.

While I’m not normally one to eat something so decadent at lunch and then sit at a desk for the rest of the afternoon, I make exceptions for treats like this.


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ducotesrestaurantsupply.com OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Come See Our Showroom
4433 Florida Blvd • 225-344-4240
TASTE // 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 69
The deli counter is tucked inside the wine shop, with more than a dozen tables plus more on the patio. There’s even a selection of wines at the counter for those who want a glass with their lunch.


Comfort food, Kenyanstyle

Recipes and stories from African safaris


ideas to kick off he new year, I looked to my good friend and partner in culinary creations, Amy Shutt. She is the longtime photographer for 225’s Dining In column and a multitalented artist who not only takes beautiful food photos, but is also highly regarded for her wildlife photography. For years, she spent time in Africa taking groups on photo safaris with Lerai Safari Camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve, a famous location in the east of Kenya. On her many adventures to Africa, Amy learned a lot about the culture, agriculture, food and cooking.

Her most cherished memories are those when she was collaborating with the local people, capturing them cultivating their gardens and cooking local dishes. One of the people who stands out most in Amy’s mind is the official gardener at the Lerai Safari Camp: a young man named Stanley Mpoe. Stanley had worked in his family home garden from the time he was 8 years old, growing tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, beans and various herbs. He grew enough vegetables and herbs to sell, earning him money to attend school and eventually leading him to become groundskeeper and official gardener at Lerai Safari Camp.

As Amy was telling me all about the wonderful food she experienced during her trips (often sourced from Stanley’s yields), I thought they would make the perfect topic for this month’s recipes. You should be able to find all these ingredients at your local grocer. I hope you enjoy these easy, healthy— and delicious—Kenyan comfort foods.

menu • Githeri (Kenyan Bean and Corn Stew) • Curried Stewed Okra and Tomatoes • Ugali Recipes by Tracey Koch
225 photographer Amy Shutt spent years in Africa taking groups on photo safaris with Lerai Safari Camp, capturing images like this one.
TASTE // 70 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com
Stanley Mpoe is the official gardener at the Lerai Safari Camp in Kenya.


Githeri is a nourishing stew from the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya. It is made up primarily of beans, corn and tomatoes, along with onions and spices like hot curry powder and smoky paprika. Veggies, such as kale and potatoes, are often added to the Githeri as well. It is traditionally prepared with dried beans, but swapping for canned red kidney beans or pinto beans help to make this an easy, quick one-pot meal. This is a well-balanced, healthy dish and the perfect meal to make any night of the week.

Servings: 6

1 medium sweet potato

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup chopped onions

2 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoon hot curry powder

2 teaspoons smoky paprika

1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 (15 ounce) can red or pinto beans

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup chopped fresh spinach or kale

½ cup vegetable broth or water

1. Bring a 2-quart pot of water up to a boil. Peel and cut the sweet potato into chunks. Drop it into the boiling water and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain it and run it under cold water to stop it from cooking. Set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot. Add in the onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are translucent.

3. Stir in the minced garlic, salt, curry powder and smoky paprika. Keep sauteing, stirring constantly for another 15 to 20 seconds.

4. Pour in the tomatoes, beans, blanched sweet potato and frozen corn. Stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot and pour in the chopped greens and broth. Bring the Githeri up to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium low.

5. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent it from sticking. Serve the Githeri with Ugali or grits.

GAMBLING PROBLEM? PLEASE CALL 800.522.4700. Must be 21 years of age or older to enter Event Center and Casino. Entertainment is subject to change or cancellation without notice. Tickets may be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster. Tickets are non-transferable and non-negotiable. Subject to availability. Management reserves the right to cancel, modify or refuse this offer without notice at any time. Offer not valid for self-exclusion program enrollees in jurisdictions which PENN Entertainment, Inc. operates or who have been otherwise excluded from the participating property. ©2023 PENN Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. PURCHASE TICKETS AT For more information, visit LBatonRouge.com • 866.261.7777 LIVE ON STAGE AT L’AUBERGE BATON ROUGE TROMBONE SHORTY & ORLEANS AVENUE FRIDAY, JAN 20 9PM LITTLE RIVER BAND SATURDAY, JAN 21 8PM JEFF FOXWORTHY SATURDAY, FEB 11 8PM
TASTE // 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 71

Curried Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

Okra is a great antioxidant and can help lower one’s blood sugar. It is utilized for cooking in several countries throughout Africa. It often acts as a thickener in stews and soups, not unlike how we use it to thicken our gumbo in south Louisiana. In African cooking, okra is typically stewed down along with onions, spices and tomatoes. In Nairobi, which is Kenya’s capital and also its largest city, you’ll find lots o variations, as the cooking becomes a bit more influenced by other countries and cultures.

Servings: 6

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon smoky paprika

2 tablespoons hot curry powder

1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

2 (12 ounce) bags frozen cut okra

2 (13 ounce) cans coconut milk

1. In a heavy deep skillet, heat the olive oil and add in the onion. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add in the chopped garlic, salt, black pepper, paprika and curry powder.

2. Continue cooking for another few seconds and then add in the diced tomatoes with chilies. Stir to combine before adding in the okra.

3. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring the mixture up to a simmer and then cover tightly.

4. Keep the okra covered while it simmers for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Serve the stew with Ugali or steamed rice.

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Ugali is a dense porridge or grits dish made from white cornmeal. It is a staple in many countries in Africa. It’s served with stews, soups, meats, fish and vegetables. It is normally placed in the middle of the table for all to enjoy. Traditional Ugali is eaten with your hands, pulling off small individual pieces. You can also cut into wedges

Servings: 6

1 tablespoon butter

1. In a heavy sauce pot, pour in the water, salt and butter.

2. Over medium-high heat, bring the water up to a boil.

3. Slowly sprinkle in the cornmeal, whisking until the mixture thickens and has no more lumps.

4. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Uncover the pot and stir with a wooden spoon, pressing the mixture against the sides of the pot while it cooks to help it form into a ball. It is done once it pulls away from the sides of the pot. This will take 7 to 8 minutes.

5. Allow to cool before transferring to a bowl or plate. Cut the Ugali into wedges. Serve alongside the Githeri and the Curried Okra and Tomatoes.

VIOLENCE #PREVENTIONWORKS CONTACT I CARE TO LEARN ABOUT OUR PREVENTION EFFORTS: ICARE.EBRSCHOOLS.ORG (225) 226-2273 | @icareebr IT TAKES TWO TO FIGHT, BUT ONLY ONE TO TURN IT AROUND. USE WORDS LIKE WE, TOGETHER TAKE A DEEP BREATH BE OPEN TO ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW SHOW RESPECT STAY CALM COMMUNICATION IS KEY from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2023. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329 LMP: 5430 Get it done right the first time 225-925-8710 | www.rotobr.com Jan 2023 Ad proof #1 • Please respond by e-mail or fax with your approval or minor revisions. unless approval or final revisions are received within 24 hours from receipt of this proof. A shorter timeframe will apply for tight deadlines. • Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS
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to serve.
3 cups water ½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups coarse white cornmeal
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This year, MPAC is celebrating the past 50 years of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge›s service to our community with a 70›s-themed gala! You don›t want to miss live music, art performances, and delicious food and drink provided by your favorite local restaurants.

Cary Saurage Community Arts Center
12th 2023
Get Your Tickets at artsbr.org/MPAC
invites you to Wednesday, Feb. 1 • 8 - 10:30 a.m. • HPC Arena 19202 Highland Road • Tickets: $65 ELEVATE YOUR LEADERSHIP & YOUR TEAM SPONSORED BY Two impactful speakers. One incredible morning! “Great Leaders Build Great Customer Experiences” SCOTT WOZNIAK CEO of Swoz Consulting Helping Leaders Build Legendary Brands Organizational Leadership expert who has worked with
of the leading brands of our time
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such as Chick-fil-a
INSIDE: Surreal Salon returns / Local podcast / Arts events Krewe of Oshun kicks off Carnival, with the season's first paade—and its third Mardi Gras in north Baton Rouge
Keep the party rollin’ Keep the party rollin’
225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 77


Want to support the Krewe of Oshun? Follow it on Instagram (@kreweofoshunbr), email it at kreweofoshun@nbrnow. org, or if you want to join the krewe and be a participant, you can register on Eventbrite at kreweofoshunbr2023.eventbrite. com. Participants and sponsors can apply until Jan 10, 2023.

MARDI GRAS IS not just for New Orleans— and in Baton Rouge, it’s not just relegated to downtown, either. Mardi Gras krewes have popped up around the Capital Region, including several new ones in the past decade. Each one has its own unique style and flar, representing the city’s different neighborhoods and cultures. Most recently, Scotlandville joined the fun.

In 2020, local nonprofit North Baton Rouge Now started the Krewe of Oshun with goals to give the people of Scotlandville and the north Baton Rouge region a parade of their own. Byron Washington, the president of both the new krewe and North Baton Rouge Now, thought a Mardi Gras parade would be a strong way to stimulate the economy in the local community.

“There are no (other) Mardi Gras parades in north Baton Rouge,” Byron says. “Before we started the Krewe of Oshun, we didn’t have a historically Black Mardi Gras parade. We did some research and discovered that there used to be one in the early 1920s, but it got discontinued.”

Now, the krewe is preparing for its third parade and festival in 2023. And it has plans to be bigger and better, working closely with community leaders to make the event one to remember. This year’s theme is “Black Excellence.” Paradegoers and participants alike are encouraged to get creative in how they incorporate the theme into their costumes and

floats. The parade is scheduled for Feb. 4, right at the start of Black History Month, so all representations of Black excellence are welcome.

“We are growing every year,” Byron says. “We are all kind of writing our own story collectively.”

The parade floats will throw beads, teddy bears, custom items from sponsors, candy and more goodies suitable for children. Organizers are also developing a signature Krewe of Oshun throw.

The parade route was designed to showcase the Scotlandville area. It starts on Harding Boulevard, makes a left on Scenic Highway, goes to 72nd Street and then passes over the overpass to Howell Boulevard.

“We are showcasing the best of north Baton Rouge,” Byron says. “Oshun is an African water deity, emphasizing rebirth, renewal and growth. With us being a city on the banks of the Mississippi River, it fit our aim while paying homage to the region we come from.”

The festival immediately follows the parade’s conclusion on Howell Boulevard. There will be live music and performances by local artists, plus vendors selling items like food, clothing, jewelry, books and gifts. Arts and crafts stations will give children the chance to make their own Mardi Gras throws. Adults can connect with community resources at sponsors’ tables .

“We want Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas to come out and have fun,” Krewe of Oshun project manager Janel Washington says. “Establishing who we are in Baton Rouge is key and critical. We want our community to get involved and make it their own.”


The 2023 Mardi Gras calendar of parades in Baton Rouge

SAVE THESE DATES—it’s time for Mardi Gras parades around town. We’ve organized them chronologically, so all you have to do is write them down in your planner (or screenshot this article). If you’re a Mardi Gras super fan, some krewes have already released their themes, so it may be time to start planning your outfit too.

For final paade details and updates, check the krewe’s websites and social media closer to dates.

Krewe of Oshun Feb. 4 at noon, Scotlandville Theme: Black Excellence Find it on Facebook and Instagram

Mystic Krewe of Mutts Feb. 5 at 2 p.m, downtown Theme: Jurassic Bark: An Adventure 43 Years in the Making caaws.org

Krewe of Artemis Feb. 10 at 7 p.m, downtown kreweofartemis.net

Krewe Mystique de la Capitale Feb. 10, downtown krewemystique.com

Krewe of Orion Feb. 11 at 6:30 pm., downtown Theme: In Our Wildest Dreams kreweoforion.com

Mid City Gras Feb. 12 at 1 p.m., North Boulevard midcitygras.org

Krewe of Southdowns Feb. 17 at 7 p.m, Southdowns neighborhood Theme: Fetes du Louisiane southdowns.org

Spanish Town Mardi Gras Feb. 18 at noon, downtown Theme: Man I Love Flamingos mardigrasspanishtown.com

Last year’s Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade

CULTURE // 78 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com

This Month @ BREC [JANUARY]


Highland Road Park Observatory

Jan. 7 + Jan. 28 | 3:30-7:30 p.m.


Highland Road Park Observatory

Jan. 7 + 14 + 28 | 10 a.m.-noon


Baton Rouge Zoo

Jan. 10 | 9:30-11:30 a.m.


Zachary Community Park

Jan. 10 + 17 + 24 + 31 | 4:30-5:30 p.m.


Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

Jan. 12 | 5:30-7:30 p.m.

PLUS NIGHT Highland Road Park Observatory

Jan. 14 | 7-10 p.m.


Jefferson Highway Park Jan. 20 | 6-9 p.m.


Cedar Ridge Drive Park + North Street Park

Jan. 20 | 6-7:30 p.m.


Highland Road Park Observatory

Jan. 21 | noon-2 p.m.


Highland Road Community Park

Jan. 21 | 4-8 p.m.


BREC Wins Gold!

#1 in the Nation


Highland Road Community Park

Jan. 23 | 6-7:30 p.m.


Milton J. Womack Park

Jan. 25 | 6-7:30 p.m.



Milton J. Womack Park

Jan. 28 | 10:30 a.m.-noon

BREC does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, religion, veteran status or sexual orientation in its programs and activities.


Baton Rouge Gallery’s beloved annual exhibit of pop surrealism and lowbrow art returns

ROUGHLY A DECADE and a half ago, a group of artists and art lovers gathered in a dim, cramped room on the grounds of Baton Rouge Gallery for a largely improvised art party they called the Surrealist Ball.

Recollections of the event are hazy. What is remembered is that, shortly after, the organizers received a ceaseand-desist letter from a group in Seattle who claimed they owned the rights to the name “Surrealist Ball.”

Today, the name remains with its litigious owners up in Washington. But down here in Baton Rouge, people are gearing up for something even better: the 15th iteration of the annual Surreal Salon. Today, the exhibition displays scores of works from artists throughout the country—and a handful from around the globe. It returns at Baton Rouge Gallery Jan. 3-26.

“It is a strange thing given where it started,” says Baton Rouge Gallery

President and CEO Jason Andreasen.

“There was no game plan for a year two, there was no expectation that it was something that would become an annual thing—let alone what it has ended up becoming.”

Perhaps by the sheer nature of surrealist art, it has become a great many things: an eclectic mixed-media exhibition; a coveted opportunity for artists around the globe; and a bombastic party floced with costumed figues, musicians, acts and at least a few animals.

Andreasen called this year’s selection the “widest net” they’ve yet pitched. The 2023 edition will feature 80 works from 62 artists hailing from 21 U.S. states and 8 countries.

And it’s not only the works on display that come from abroad. BRG enlists a renowned artist to guest-curate the show and help determine prize winners. This year, the role belongs to Milan artist Marco Mazzoni, who will also display four of his own works at the exhibition, including the exhibit's

new graphic he created.

“It is a bit strange—but a bit wonderful—for me to give an opinion on everything,” Mazzoni says, adding that the blind judging process (he’s only seen the submitted works and their titles, no other info) has presented a unique challenge to him.

Mazzoni’s selections, pulled from a daunting pool of over 500 submitted works, will hang on the gallery’s walls for the bulk of January—they will be free for anyone to view during normal gallery hours. But if any of those days is the day to see them, it is Jan. 21, when the Surreal Salon Soiree returns for the first time in thee years.


“One of the great things about the event is just the interaction between attendees, and watching the costumes end up being a natural icebreaker for a lot of people,” Andreasen says. That, and the fact that “the show is going from 70 pieces to 700 just by virtue of everybody having their own costumes. They’re kind of part of the show for that night.”

But what's most impressive is the attendees' enthusiasm for the art.

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“Surreal Salon isn’t just Surreal Salon because of the costumes and a big blowout party,” he says. “It is as much about the artwork that is being exhibited. And that was the original goal ... to get people excited about art in our city.”

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He’s confident they’ve succeeded batonrougegallery.org

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The Soiree will have a grand return, complete with old favorite oddities and new ones, like the exuberant sonic shamanism of musical guest, Austin-based Golden Dawn Arkestra.

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3.5.23 TICKETS AVAILABLE AT BONTEMPSTIX.COM Want to become a sponsor? Email us at taylorb@ywca-br.org For more information and to submit announcements, visit inregister.com/weddings WEDDING, ENGAGEMENT and ANNIVERSARY announcements available You’re invited TO BE FEATURED IN INREGISTER WEDDINGS
Photo by Ashford Halley Studios
80 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com CULTURE //


JAN. 12

Australian-American entertainer Gregg Turkington’s character Neil Hamburger is headed to the stage at Chelsea’s Live for a night of comedy and entertainment. Come laugh as Hamburger engages the crowd with question-and-answer jokes. chelseaslive.com

Jan. 20

The Family Dinner Comedy troupe is back with another Spoof Night at the Manship Theatre. This time the group is spoofing a film om the popular Harry Potter franchise. Come watch the film as the comedians heckle and give commentary, scene after scene. manshiptheatre.org

JAN. 20, 22 + 26-29

Theatre Baton Rouge presents Mart Crowley’s play The Boys in the Band. This production follows a group of gay men as they celebrate a birthday party for one of the characters. The comedic show turns into a drama as the night goes on and things quickly take a turn. theatrebr.org

JAN. 26

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Join the Baton Rouge Symphony for Symphonie Fantastique at the Raising Cane’s River Center Performing Arts Theatre. This show welcomes awardwinning conductor Adam Johnson to the stage, known for his presence at the podium as conductor. brso.org

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JAN. 14

Chelsea’s Live is commemorating its first yar of business with an anniversary show. Grammy-nominated New Orleans band Tank and the Bangas will take the stage for the celebration. chelseaslive.com

JAN. 6

Come hear some bluegrass music at Manship Theatre as The Hillbenders take the stage. This acoustic band has been playing since 2008, with its ability to blend rock ‘n’ roll with bluegrass music for a unique concert experience. manshiptheatre.org

JAN. 20

Go, (Trombone) Shorty! The New Orleans artist is headed to Baton Rouge with his band Orleans Avenue. Though he is known for playing the trombone, this multitalented artist is known to play more than one instrument. Don’t miss out on your chance to see this Louisiana legend live onstage at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel. lbatonrouge.com


JAN. 21

Take it back to the ’70s with the Little River Band at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel. Jam out to all of the band’s hits from its long career, like “Reminiscing” and “Lonesome Lover.” lbatonrouge.com


A timeless collection of one-of-a-kind natural gemstone jewelry
225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 81 CULTURE //

On the pod

The name of the podcast is ‘Baton Rouge Sucks.’ But the team behind it says there’s more to it

IF YOU’RE A regular 225 reader, chances are you’re not of the opinion that Baton Rouge sucks.

And, perhaps ironically, neither are the three host-founders of the self-proclaimed “most famous podcast in Baton Rouge.”

Yes, the team behind the Baton Rouge Sucks podcast in fact has a lot of love for the Red Stick—jeeringly as they may tend to express it.

The three hosts—Zack Douglas, Zak Lanius and Deven Jackson—first dove into the BR underground playing in bands like Wimpsville, Shadow People, Mayhaps and Za-Bra.

Now, be it through their interviews with local musical artists like _thesmoothcat, Ria Rosa, Chloe Marie and many others, or their jousts with local celebrity chef Jay Ducote, the trio explores, promotes and yes, derides, just about every facet of life and culture in Baton Rouge since their inaugural episode in May 2018.

Whether they’re weighing in on pop culture, blasting local media or just going where the conversation takes them, they say it’s all in the name of comedy, irony and satire.

The Baton Rouge Sucks podcast airs on a loose weekly schedule, streamable on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. The team also shares uncensored thoughts and memes on the podcast’s Facebook page, where it has more than 14,000 followers.

225 sat down with the podcasters to chat about some of their unforgettable moments, the learning curve of hosting their own show, and their experiences with mild fame. batonrougesucks.buzzsprout.com

Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What led you to first mae the podcast?

ZAK LANIUS: We had a bunch of friends in Baton Rouge who made weird art and music that we wanted to tell other people about. And we like drinking and joking around with our friends, so we figued, why not try to promote people and do that, and maybe it’ll be entertaining.

DEVEN JACKSON: There were also a lot of shows happening around that time (read: before COVID), so it was a good way to get the shows out and promote them.

What was it like at the beginning?

ZACK DOUGLAS: Learning how to interview people was a little weird.

LANIUS: I think we kind of decided–or at least I did–to just lean into being terrible at interviewing people. Sometimes you can get more information out of people that way.

What have been some of the most notable moments?

DOUGLAS: One time we did a Band of Brothers watchthrough, where you could sync our podcast to the show, and it was like you’re watching it with us. We also did Pissy Sad Sad Night, which was like an online open-mic.

LANIUS: I beat Jay Ducote in a cooking competition. How did that come to happen?

LANIUS: I put out a challenge, and Jay accepted. He’d been on the pod a couple of times, but I guess we were just talking so much trash that he had to come on again.

When did you start to realize you had a real fanbase?

DOUGLAS: People have come up to us that we don’t know, so that’s been weird—and cool, I guess.

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LANIUS: And we’ve had a lot of different people reach out to us about being on the podcast or doing collaborations with us.

Have they been people you wouldn’t expect to reach out to you?

LANIUS: Yeah, or people we wouldn’t expect to, like, associate with us at all. They let us on the real radio once or twice, which was kind of weird.

It feels like a forbidden subject, but I have to ask: Do you make any money from the podcast?

DOUGLAS: It covered Red Bulls at first and now that we have to use Zoom, it covers the Zoom subscription.

Do you ever get tired of making the podcast?

DOUGLAS: It’s like being in a local band: You play to 20 to 30 to, hopefully, 50 people, usually; and we have way more than that who listen to us. So it’s kind of hard to be like, ‘Oh, I should stop doing this thing when it’s more successful than this other thing that I put way more work into and did not get nearly as successful.’

Issue Date: Jan 2022 Ad proof #2

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LANIUS: It always ends up being fun, because it’s really, at the least, just three friends hanging out and trying to make each other laugh.

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“Making the podcast always ends up being fun, because it’s really, at the least, just three friends hanging out and trying to make each other laugh.”
—Podcast co-host Zak Lanius (not pictured)
225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 83 CULTURE //
Deven Jackson and Zack Douglas, two of the hosts of the Baton Rouge Sucks podcast


Where to play Batonaround Rouge this month



Baton Rouge Gallery’s art exhibit Surreal Salon returns for its 15th year. This exhibit welcomes work from global artists who embrace the pop-surrealism and lowbrow genres. And for the first time since the pandemic the Surreal Salon Soiree—a night of costumes and art—is back on Jan. 21. batonrougegallery.org



The Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival screens at the Manship Theatre, showcasing four unique films tht aim to educate and celebrate diversity. Though each film is diferent, every story explores themes of Jewish culture. Diversify your film wtching by immersing yourself in this film series brjff.com



JAN. 6: Mardi Gras parades kick off, mardigrasneworleans.com/parades

JAN. 6-8: Fan Expo New Orleans pop culture event, fanexpohq.com/fanexponeworleans

JAN. 14: Miss Universe, missuniverse.com

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The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge is having a big birthday. It's celebrating its five decades in a big way: the annual Music-PerformanceArt-Community event at its downtown headquarters. Bust out your groovy gear, because this party is disco-themed—just like any good party would have been back when the organization was established in 1973. Enjoy a night of bites, drinks and art entertainment. artsbr.org



Cozy up with Winter Storytimes at the West Baton Rouge Parish Library. Each Tuesday at 10 a.m. there will be stories, songs and activities for all ages. Relax as your kiddos are occupied for 25-minute storytimes. wbrpl.com

JAN. 19

Bowl for a cause with the Strike Out ALS event at Red Stick Social. This event aims to support those living with ALS, as well as those who take care of them. Pro baseball players, and Catholic High School alums, Aaron and Austin Nola are also expected to make a special appearance. redsticksocial.com

JAN. 19

14 + 15


Lace up your sneakers and get ready to run into the new year with the Louisiana Marathon. This race begins downtown and brings participants through town on winding routes. All runners are welcome, as races range from a children’s 1-mile to a complete marathon of 26.2 miles. thelouisianamarathon.com

Take the guesswork out of supper time with a Pop Up Dinner at Red Stick Spice Co. The teaching kitchen will be the dining room as participants sit down and enjoy a five-course mal. Owner and chef Anne Milneck welcomes guest chef Matthew Stansbury for a delicious night, served with wine and finishedwith fresh tea from SoGo Tea Bar. redstickspice.com


Subscribe to our newsletter 225 Daily for our twice-weekly roundups of events. 225batonrouge. com/225daily


JAN. 20: Cody Johnson at the Cajundome, cajundome.com

JAN. 25-FEB. 1: Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival, cinemaonthebayou.com

JAN. 28: The 17th Annual Gumbo Cook-Off in Opelousas, thegumbofoundation.org

Supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency. FOR TICKETS: MANSHIPTHEATRE.ORG • 225-344-0334 JAN 6 | 7:30 PM THE HILLBENDERS JAN 29 | 2PM JAN 30 9:30AM & 11:30AM SCHOOL SHOWTIMES MAUREEN BECK IMPROBABLE ASCENT SPEAKER SERIES AT MANSHIP THEATRE THANKS TO THE BENN AND AMANDA VINCENT CHARITABLE FUND AND JOSEF STERNBERG MEMORIAL FUND JAN 17 | 7:30PM SCHOOL SHOWTIME: 10:00AM A Giveback Party where your donations directly benefit Manship FEATURING ROCK BAND FEB 2 6PM A Giveback Party where your donations directly benefit Manship Theatre's Educational Programming!
ISTOCK 225batonrouge.com | [225] January 2023 85 CALENDAR //

In every issue of 225, you’ll find a fee print on this page. FRAMED celebrates life and art in Baton Rouge, each one featuring a local photographer, place or graphic designer. Cut it out to hang in your cubicle, or frame it for your home gallery wall. Show us where you hang them by tagging them on social media with #225prints.

GET FEATURED We love spotlighting local photographers, artists and designers for this page! Shoot us an email at editor@225batonrouge.com to chat about being featured.

2022 MARDI GRAS PHOTO BY ARIANA ALLISON / arianajallison.com
FRAMED // 86 [225] January 2023 | 225batonrouge.com
library services career resources kids library online courses, e-books, and streaming media workshops homework help YOU SEARCH. WE FIND. Your Library team is skilled at helping you find the tools and resources you need to keep you moving forward. You can search our Digital Library, call a librarian, or even text our team with your top challenges and questions. Visit ebrpl.com/DigitalLibrary • Available 24/7 Online • ebrpl.com • Reference Service: (225) 231-3750