A Start-up Builds on New Orleans’ Culinary Foundation

Up-and-coming chefs get together with adventurous foodies to create wealth in the recovering city.
Aug 27, 2015·
TakePart Staff

In 2012, Brian Bordainick had an idea. The 30-something entrepreneur had fostered a deep love for New Orleans when he visited the city in high school. Drawn by a desire to help it recover after Hurricane Katrina, Bordainick taught school in the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward and helped raise $2 million for a new athletic field. But he realized the best way to help would be to create a sustainable business, employing people for the long-term and developing wealth in the city.

So Bordainick and a few others created Dinner Lab, a pop-up dining club that gives local and visiting chefs an opportunity to cook a meal for 70 or so people who sign up online. The business draws on New Orleans’ rich culinary heritage while cultivating new ideas that haven’t been tested in the marketplace and delivers the product to customers with a demonstrated willingness to try new things.

RELATED: A Family Brought a White-Tablecloth Restaurant to the Lower Ninth Ward

Dinner Lab is now in more 30 cities nationwide, and plans are in the works to expand internationally. Executives and venture capitalists from Silicon Valley to New York City have tried to poach Bordainick and colleagues, but all the Dinner Lab founders are committed to keeping their talents—and their headquarters—in New Orleans, contributing to the entrepreneurial environment with the hope of attracting more similar-minded young people to the city.

FULL COVERAGE: Project Katrina: A Decade of Resilience in New Orleans