Celebrate Avis’ Restaurant: Local MasterChef alum holding grand opening

Published 12:06 am Saturday, November 12, 2016

LAPLACE — She has cooked for friends, family, presidents and stars who dance.

She has figured out her own way to make everything from Andouille to zucchini taste delicious, both at home and on reality TV in Hollywood.

Chef Avis White smiles next to a photo collage highlighting her catering efforts in 2014 at the finale of TV show Dancing with the Stars.

Chef Avis White smiles next to a photo collage highlighting her catering efforts in 2014 at the finale of TV show Dancing with the Stars.

Now Avis White is ready to cook for her friends, family, strangers and any visiting celebrities in her own kitchen and serve them in her own restaurant in LaPlace.

Avis’ Restaurant, located at the Quality Inn Hotel, 3900 U.S. 51 in LaPlace, opened in August with a little bit of fanfare.

The big fanfare comes today as White celebrates the grand opening of her new restaurant.

Hungry people are invited to attend the ribbon cutting and celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ministers from several local churches will hold a prayer service to start the event. Afterward, there will be free food and entertainment, including a visit by the Zulu Tramps and a second line.

Another celebration will take place from 7 to 11 p.m., with the 24/7 Band providing entertainment. Visitors will be able to pose for pictures with White on a red carpet outside and feast on tasty dishes inside for $15 per person. There will be a cash bar.

White hopes to feed the community with her cooking for many years to come.

Avis White’s new restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and will celebrate all that good food with a grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and a gala from 7 to 11 p.m. tonight.

Avis White’s new restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and will celebrate all that good food with a grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and a gala from 7 to 11 p.m. tonight.


“I love what I do,” she said. “I want to make people’s palate excited because I enjoy doing it. I really do love cooking for people.”

White’s love for cooking began when she was just 6 years old, when her grandmother decided she was old enough to learn.

“She had me on a ladder right next to her at the stove,” White said. “She taught me everything about how to make a gumbo. I made my first gumbo by myself when I was 6 years old.”

While cooking remained something she did, White went through a few transitions — wife, mother, teacher and law student.

“I went back to college in my 40s,” said White, who studied criminal justice at SUNO.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, she was the SGA president; her daughter was a freshman.

A few years later, White was working as a caretaker for an elderly woman when she heard a radio advertisement for contestants to be on the upcoming season of MasterChef.

“I called my kids while I was driving,” she said. “I told them, ‘You have to find out about this. I have to be on this show.’”

Two days later, White was in line with hundreds of other potential contestants — with her favorite seafood pasta dish — when a producer began asking people if they wanted to be interviewed. While many were too shy, White jumped at the chance.

“They put me to the front of the line right there,” White said.

Then they tasted her dish.

“When the guy came to mine, he was smelling the food, then he tasted the food,” she said. “He said, ‘My, this is good.’ I said, ‘It’s so good it makes your tongue slap your brain out.’ They thought that was so funny. They sent that clip to California.”

After several weeks of paperwork, testing and preparation, White was flown to Los Angeles.

After a few more weeks of testing and preparation, she became one of 25 contestants in the 2010 season of the show. She lasted six weeks.

“The Chinese dish got me,” she said of her elimination.

“I’m very excited about that. There were many who didn’t get that far. I had the southern flair. I knew how to do what I had to do with what I had.”

White returned home and resumed her home cooking, opening her own restaurant in a few spots.

She also was invited to cook for several special events, including the finale of Dancing With the Stars in 2014 and for the cast and crew of Django Unchained, which filmed in the area.

One of her restaurant locations was in a bar on Airline Highway where her friend, Pastor Neil Bernard of New Wine Christian Center, told her, “It’s a shame I have to get through all this liquor to get to this food.”

He told her he had a storeroom bigger than her kitchen.

She moved to the spot near the church soon after. Just recently, some friends who were working to take over the lounge at the Quality Inn asked if she would be interested in taking over the restaurant.

Now her goal is to feed St. John and beyond until someone lets her have her own cooking show.

“The goal was always to have my own restaurant, then a few more,” she said. “I want to have my own cooking show, though. Someday.”

Avis’ Kitchen is open Monday through Thursday from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. It also is available for meetings and events. For more information, call 985-651-8486 or visit chefavis.com.