Lucullus defines in a most beautiful way the relationship between food and culture.
Today I am going to take you inside of one of the greatest shops on earth, LUCULLUS, which specializes in culinary antiques. Located in New Orleans’ French Quarter for almost thirty years, the shop offers antiques from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Every object depicts or complements the grand pursuits of gastronomy. This is the first store to specialize exclusively in “culinary antiques,” a phrase coined by LUCULLUS.
As you may know, I grew up in New Orleans. Lucullus has been on my short list of favorite stores for years. Whenever I go home, I invariably find my way to this store, and if I get there outside of working hours, I indulge in a Breakfast At Tiffany's moment as I get transported into a stylish culinary world of the past. If you look through this store window, you might well imagine yourself at a spirited dinner party, seated at an elegant dining table set like one in the store... or you may make a mental note to have Lucullus redecorate your own dining room. Having sold antiques myself previously, I am acutely aware of how talented the store owner is to have kept this store interesting and full of high quality, specialized inventory all of these years. I had the pleasure of a chat with the charming proprietor, Patrick Dunne, and he graciously indulged my curiosity with a delightful conversation full of quips, wise words, and great stories. His intelligent observations are quote-worthy...
A native Texan, Dunne fell in love with New Orleans as a child and has lived in the Big Easy for years, radiating southern hospitality and charm. His father was a very considerate host, entertaining extended family with good manners and good food. Clearly, as you browse Lucullus' inventory, you will get the sense that Dunne knows a few things about entertaining. He shared a story about a dinner party he threw years ago for the Editor In Chief of a major magazine. About 45 minutes before the EIC was to arrive, the dining room chandelier crashed onto the table and into a billion shards of what had to be frustration and panic. But Dunne kept it together, got it cleaned up and pulled off his event in style, with humor.
If you are lucky enough to be his guest, the menu will likely be of Southern Country or Creole Southern Cuisine. Cocktail contenders: Mint Juleps, Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds, Milk Punches.
His entertaining tends to vacillate between four and forty guests, depending on whether he is in the country or the city. Don't you know his parties are spectacular... When in Lucullus, one gets the sense that the proprietor must be ready at all times for a variety of celebrations. His staff is gracious and delightful, helpful yet unpushy, which I appreciate while I am transported into the vortex of rich entertaining possibilities.