When I started covering the restaurant industry nearly 20 years ago, one of my first business trips was to New Orleans to write about a recently formed group devoted to independent restaurants. The group was not based in New Orleans, but member Ralph Brennan of the famous Brennan family of New Orleans invited the gathering to his hometown during Mardi Gras. I had never been to Mardi Gras before nor witnessed such a mind-blowing spectacle. For that matter, I had never seen a city like New ...

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