442 episodes

OUT TO LUNCH finds economist and Tulane finance professor Peter Ricchiuti conducting business New Orleans style: over lunch at Commander’s Palace restaurant. In his 9th year in the host seat, Ricchiuti’s learned but uniquely NOLA informal perspective has established Out to Lunch as the voice of Crescent City business. You can also hear the show on WWNO 89.9FM.

It's New Orleans: Out to Lunch itsneworleans.com

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    • 4.8 • 22 Ratings

OUT TO LUNCH finds economist and Tulane finance professor Peter Ricchiuti conducting business New Orleans style: over lunch at Commander’s Palace restaurant. In his 9th year in the host seat, Ricchiuti’s learned but uniquely NOLA informal perspective has established Out to Lunch as the voice of Crescent City business. You can also hear the show on WWNO 89.9FM.

    The Forge In The Metaverse

    The Forge In The Metaverse

    Throughout history there are commonly periods of societal narcissism, in which we believe our own era is the most extreme example of whatever condition we’re considering.

    For example, in the 1950’s, Americans regarded the automobile as the absolute apex of human engineering, even though some thousands of years before, humans had managed to build the pyramids.

    Since the invention of fiction, we’ve credited contemporary creators with devising the most fantastical worlds ever imagined - from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan, to Walt Disney’s Disneyland. But it’s hard to imagine an era more extreme than the one we’re living in today.

    Even with the caveat of misplaced narcissism, there has never been a greater disparity between the real world and the non-real world. Between, say, the world of manufacturing, and the promised land of the metaverse.

    The metaverse is a more-or-less parallel rendering of the real world, in a 3D digital dimension. Although we’ve been promised versions of this vision for years - with names like “holograms” and “VR” - the latest portal into this alternative universe is called “Web3.”

    Web3 is built on the blockchain, which is, at its heart, a metaverse where we can relate to each without going through a middle-man. In other words, in this utopian digital future we won’t need Facebook, Netflix, or anybody who builds an online platform for us, because, somehow, we’re all going to be able to build these bridges between ourselves.

    So, the question is - is Web3 another empty promise about mass market adoption of life-changing Virtual Reality - which is always just about to happen but never seems to - or, is a blockchain, crypto-currency, free-to-be, Web3 world really here?

    Arguably New Orleans most successful entrepreneur ever is betting on option number 2. 

    In 2010, Patrick Comer created a real-world company called Lucid (now Cint), which dealt in collecting data. In 2021 Patrick sold Lucid for $1.1 billion. Patrick’s latest venture is called Gripnr. Gripnr couldn’t be more untethered to the real world if it was an acid trip.

    Gripnr is a Web3, blockchain-based platform that allows online game players to play a game like Dunegeons and Dragons and incorporate crypto-currency and NFTs into their online gaming world.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, Stephen Bateman has a forge in the back yard of his house in Jefferson Parish.

    Stephen is the owner and sole employee of his company, Down The River Forge. He spends his days making knives.

    Stephen started the business in 2020. Today he’s making high-end, hand-crafted hunting knives, kitchen knives, meat cleavers, oyster shuckers, and cane knives, for clients across the country and around the world, as far away as New Zealand, Norway, and the UK.

    If you want a handmade knife from Down The River Forge, your current wait time is 18-20 weeks. And, thanks to Stephen’s appearances on TV, and the organic success of Down The River Forge’s Instagram account, Stephen’s client list is growing every week.

    If you’ve ever been in a brainstorming session, you’ve probably heard an encouraging moderator try and elicit input by saying, “There’s no such thing as a bad idea.” On the other hand, anybody who has sat through a pitch session in which entrepreneurs pitch concepts for startup businesses, will tell you there is no shortage of bad ideas.

    Or so they think.

    In reality, there are countless stories of very successful businesses whose founders had people tell them, “It’ll never work.”

    Patrick's startup, Gripnr, is a business that is so cutting-edge it’s almost literally in a world of its own. And who would have known that there is such an enormous demand for custom knives until Stephen had the courage to commit to Down the Rive Forge.

    Peter has ended quite a few of these Out to Lunch shows over the years by saying “I look forward to following you and keeping up with your continued succ

    • 33 min
    Hey Workaru

    Hey Workaru

    Even before the Covid pandemic transformed office workers into a nation of folks who sit at their dining table 3 days a week in dress shirt and yoga pants, we’ve been taking our laptops to coffee shops and hanging out there for hours, working.

    Today, the coffee shop is cemented permanently into our mix of alternative office spaces. Wherever you go in the United States, you see a particular breed of coffee-shop-warrior. They have ear buds in so they can’t communicate with anybody. And their gaze is so intently fixed on a screen that they’re barely aware of other humans around them.

    With this almost-total-isolation, you might wonder why these folks want to be in a place like a coffee shop where there are so many distractions. Well, apparently there’s something about the buzz of coffee shops – and coffee - that is conducive to task completion.

    You’d be forgiven for thinking that this coffee culture started in Seattle, when Starbucks was founded, in 1971. But it actually started long before that. In the 15th Century. The home of coffee wasn’t a town called Frappuccino, but it was a city called Mocha. Mocha is the name of the port city where coffee was first exported from its home in Yemen.

    Today, if you want authentic Yemeni coffee, you can find it here in New Orleans, at the Hey Coffee Company on the Lafitte Greenway. Hey Coffee imports and roasts a number of unique small batch coffees. The co-founder of Hey Coffee - and its coffee shop, Hey Café - is Greg Rodrigue.

    While the coffee shop is an alternative to working at home, other than an endless supply of coffee and pastries it doesn’t have any significant advantage over your kitchen table.

    Sometimes, whether you’re at home or on the road, you need more than just a flat surface for your laptop. Sometimes you need an office. And, if you’re on the other side of the desk, now that your employees are working out of the office a few days a week, you find yourself with a bunch of office space you’re paying for and not using.

    A new company called Workaru is solving all of these problems at once.

    The easiest way to think of Workaru is the Air B’n’B of office space. If you have an office with empty desks, or an empty conference room, you can rent out your office space for a day or two, or an hour or two.

    And if you need an office space to work in, or a conference room to hold a meeting, you can find that on the Workaru app – either in advance or on the day you need it.

    The founder of Workaru is Clerc Bertrand.

    One of the most popular TV shows of the early 2000’s was a comedy called The Office. What made it funny was, a disparate group of people doing boring jobs for a lame company were forced into the same space for hours a day.

    Today, the concept of being forced into a hell-scape office to work alongside people you don’t want to deal with is seriously dated. For starters, most people aren’t stuck in a job they don’t like. These days if you don’t like your job, you quit and go get another one. Or join the gig economy.

    And if you do enjoy your job, you’re not forced into an office every day. You can work from home, from a coffee shop Like Hey Café, or you can grab an office when you need it on the Workaru app.

    Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com.

     

     
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    • 30 min
    Plant Based

    Plant Based

    “Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.”

    If you don’t know, or don’t remember, where that comes from, it was a 1970’s Hershey’s marketing campaign. The concept was to sell two candy bars with one ad. One candy bar was Almond Joy – made with almonds – which you ate when you felt like a nut - and the other was Mounds, which was made with coconut – which you ate when you didn’t.

    Despite its name, coconut isn’t technically a nut. Nevertheless, people who are allergic to tree nuts - like almonds, cashews, and walnuts - are typically also allergic to coconut.

    Back in the 1970’s that didn’t bother anybody. The reason you ate one candy bar over another was just a taste preference. Today, things have changed. Now there’s an entire market of products for people who are allergic to nuts, including foods that are staples of  the American diet, like peanut butter.

    For those of you in that category – and those of you looking for healthier snack food - there’s a new nut in town. It’s called Sacha Inchi.

    Sacha Inchi is a super-seed that is barely known in the US, but in South America it’s known as “The Inca Peanut,” having been cultivated in Peru for centuries.

    The stateside pioneer of snack foods made from Sancha Inchi is a company called Brass Roots. Brass Roots makes three types of Sacha Inchi nut butters – unsweetened, chocolate, and classic. They make three versions of roasted Sacha Inchi seeds. And three varieties of Sacha Inchi puffs - which are kind of like healthy Cheetos.

    If you’re familiar with our traditional New Orleans eating habits, here’s a sentence you probably weren’t expecting to hear: Brass Roots is from right here in New Orleans. The founder and self-described Chief Eats Officer at Brass Roots is Aaron Gailmor.

    When we think about the natural world, we typically think of the outdoors. Although most of us spend the bulk of our lives indoors - either at work or home - we do make an effort to bring the natural world inside. We might have a potted plant in our office - though typically it dies the first time we’re out for a few days.

    At home, whether or not we can keep indoor plants alive depends entirely on whether there’s one person in a household who has a clue about horticulture.

    When it comes to the outside of our home or office, we can turn to professional landscapers who choose plants that are right for our specific location, and who come out and maintain them. Now, in New Orleans, we can do the same inside, thanks to an indoor landscaping company called FAIT NOLA. 

    Over the past few years you may have seen the FAIT NOLA truck around town – it looks like a food truck for plants. Now there’s a brick-and-mortar location on Magazine Street. The co-founder and self-described Plantpreneur at FAIT NOLA is Laura Stirling Joffrion.

    Back in the day, the 70's ad campaign for Almond Joy and Mounds had the same level of success we would describe today as "going viral." In the 1980's there was another memorable ad campaign with an equally tag-line. This one was for  a re-tooled American car. The tag line was, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.”

    Unfortunately, it turned out that your father’s Oldsmobile was actually better. And pretty soon Oldsmobile disappeared off the market. But the reason I bring this is up is because the businesses we’re talking about today – pioneering a brand-new healthy snack food and a new way of bringing nature into our indoor lives – are far from the old, stereotypical perceptions of what succeeds in New Orleans.

    It’s been true for some time that we’re no longer living in your father’s Crescent City, and it says a lot about New Orleans today that we’re not surprised to learn  that original and exciting businesses like Brass Roots and FAIT Nola come from here. 

    But we still have small town pride! All of us in the business community and the wider community beyond are happy for the

    • 31 min
    You Bet

    You Bet

    Everybody likes to make money.

    The accumulation of wealth is so ingrained into our American way of life that wealth is synonymous with success. And for good reason. In our society, the more money you have the better access you have to pretty much everything – from healthcare to art.

    For some people, there are pathways to making huge amounts of money. But for most of us, there’s not. For most of us, it doesn’t matter how great we are at our job, there’s a definite ceiling to the amount of money we can ever make.

    And that’s why, given an opportunity, we’re attracted to the chance of making tons of money. And I use the word “chance” intentionally. Because I’m talking about gambling.

    In 2018, the Supreme Court decided a case that allowed states to legalize sports betting.

    In 2020, betting on live sports games was legalized in most Louisiana parishes.

    In 2021, in-person sports betting was allowed here - meaning you could bet on sports games in a casino.

    And in 2022, the State allowed mobile sports betting.

    So, how do we like our sports betting here in Louisiana? Apparently, a lot. According to recent statistics, we’re the 8th biggest sports betters in the nation. And if you rank it on a per capita basis, we’re third biggest.

    Who’s benefitting from this all this sports betting? Well, you are - if you win. The State is – they’re gaining millions in tax revenue. And the casinos are probably doing okay too.

    To find out just how well Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans is doing, we can turn to Dan Real. Dan is the Regional President, Southwest, of Caesar's Entertainment, who own Harrah’s New Orleans.

    Legal real-time betting on the sports industry is fairly recent. But we’ve been placing real-time bets on just about every other industry in the US since 1790. That’s when the Philadelphia Stock Exchange was founded. That was followed two years later, in 1792, by the founding of the New York Stock Exchange.

    For a very long time, stocks were traded by a select group of Americans who could afford a broker to navigate the complex process of buying and selling on these exchanges.

    Then, along came the internet. Online trading democratized the investment process. Apps like E*TRADE let anyone with a few discretionary dollars and a cell phone put money in the stock market. Consequently, the current generation of investors is way more representative of the general population. One positive effect of this generational shift has been a move toward what is known as ESG investing.

    ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. ESG investors invest in companies that are environmentally and socially responsible, and that encourage diversity in their own makeup.

    Locally, Suzanne Mestayer, Managing Principal at majority-woman-owned Thirty North Investments, is very familiar with ESG investing. She describes it as, “bringing together money and meaning.”

    From the outside, a lot of things look easy. Until you come to do them yourself. Then, when you actually have to write a resume, ride a surfboard, host a podcast, or any one of a thousand things that look easy, you find there’s more to it than you thought.

    Investing in the stock market is the opposite. From the outside it looks complex, even inexplicable. But once you become an investor, you realize it’s actually pretty straightforward. Of course, the action of putting money in the market and making a profit, is the same action as putting money in the market and making a loss.

    Thanks to the demands for transparency that have come with the advent of ESG investing, there are now other forces than a company’s profit and loss statements that move markets. And, although there are various schools of thought on the wisdom of gambling, it’s not a totally dissimilar process to investing. You do as much research as you can, weigh the odds, decide how much you can afford to lose if things go the wrong way, and put your money down.

    This is a uniq

    • 31 min
    Wind Power

    Wind Power

    Whatever you believe is the cause of our changing climate, we seem to be living through an era of historically more storms, and more severe storms. Even if you only moved here recently, most of us in Louisiana have now lived through a major hurricane, or had one narrowly miss us.

    You’re no doubt all too familiar with the hurricane season ritual ahead of a storm heading in our direction. It starts about 5 Days out, with casually checking the weather forecast, and builds to obsessively watching storm predictions on TV, checking incessantly online, and asking family, friends, and neighbors, “Are you staying or evacuating?”

    So, here’s a crazy question. What if you didn’t have to do any of that? What if there was a website or an app that you could open, punch in your address, and get an individualized, accurate, wind and flood forecast? Not for the city, but for your own specific street address.

    If that sounds ridiculous and impossible, well, it’s neither. It’s actually real. It’s a tool that’s at your fingertips right now, called QRisq. It’s the result of years of development by a company headquartered at the Stennis Space Center, called QRisq Analytics.

    Initially QRisq’s customers have been municipalities but starting with the 2022 hurricane season, Q Risq is available to the general public.

    Elizabeth Valenti is the Lead Engineer who created, designed and, along with a staff of 7, built this piece of technology.

    There’s a good side and a bad side to everything. Even high winds.

    Almost everybody in the energy production business believes that wind power is going to provide a significant amount of our future electricity supply. Here in Louisiana, we don’t exactly have winds whistling across wide open plains. But we do have wind out at sea, in the Gulf. Harnessing that off-shore wind to generate electricity is now a priority, for both our State and Federal governments.

    As plans progress to build wind farms out in the Gulf, one of the essential items is the giant windmill blades that spin around to produce the energy. Each wind turbine blade is 400 feet long. And made of aerodynamically sculpted steel.

    Wind turbine blades are reportedly the largest serially produced item manufactured on earth. And the exact spot on the planet that some of the most advanced blades are being designed is at the Avondale Shipyards, just out of New Orleans, by a company called Gulf Wind Technology. Its CEO is James Martin.

    I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” It’s meant to suggest that even something that is bad for most people has got to be good for somebody. There are very few instances where you can employ that expression literally. So, to that extent we may have made history with this podcast! 

    Elizabeth Valenti's QRisq technology might be the closest we’ve come to getting an advantage over hurricanes, or at least predicting our chances of survival. And increasing our chances of getting an insurance settlement on the other side.

    And whereas “trying to catch the wind” was once a poetic way of describing a hopeless cause, today, catching the wind is becoming a potentially planet-saving industry. And James Martin's turbine blade technology is at the cutting edge of the revolution.   

    Elizabeth and James are both doing ground-breaking work that would be significant whatever city they were in, anywhere in the world. It’s amazing that they're both here in New Orleans.

    Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And  you can also check out more lunchtime conversation about New Orleans surprising role in advancing wind-power technology
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    • 33 min
    Food

    Food

    Here’s a stupid question. Is 40% a lot? The answer, of course, is “Yes it is.”

    For example, if you order a pizza that has 8 slices, and you throw 40% of the pizza in the trash, you’ll only have 4.8 slices to eat.

    Why would you do that? You wouldn’t throw out 40% of a perfectly good pizza. That you paid for. Right? That would be a ridiculous waste of food and money.

    Well, believe it or not, you are in effect doing just that. And so is everybody else in the country.

    According to the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, between 30 and 40% of the food supply in the US is wasted. This is not some sort of deep-probe Out to Lunch investigative reporting - you can find this information on the FDA’s website.

    And think about this fact for a moment. In the US, food waste is the single largest item thrown into landfills. Not paper. Not plastic. Food. And just to be clear, by “food waste” we’re not talking about things like potato peelings or compost. We’re talking about discarded food.

    If there was a way to intercept this food waste, it could be diverted to the 42 million Americans who live in households reported as “food insecure.” That is precisely what an organization called Food Rescue US is trying to do.

    The New Orleans chapter of Food Rescue is headed up by its Site Director, Kelly Haggerty.

    When you own a restaurant, food waste is unavoidable. No matter how skilled you are at restaurant administration, it’s very difficult to predict exactly how many people are going to show up on a given day. But, because restaurants run on slim margins, being able to predict food requirements is essential if you’re going to keep the lights on.

    If, for example, your restaurant is in line with the FDA statistic of wasting 40% of the food you purchase every day, you’ll pretty soon find yourself out of business.

    New Orleanian Robert LeBlanc has managed to navigate the unpredictability of running restaurants, music clubs, and bars in New Orleans since 2005. Currently the hospitality businesses Robert’s company, LeBlanc + Smith, own and operate, include the restaurant Sylvain in the French Quarter, the bar Barrel Proof in the Lower Garden District, and the Chloe Hotel in Uptown.

    You can’t live in New Orleans and not have an appreciation of food. It’s not till you leave here and go other places that you realize the high culinary standards we’re surrounded by here. Even tiny poboy and snoball stands deliver tastes you don’t get anywhere else.

    And it’s not till you leave here and go other places that you realize how New Orleanians have a respect for each other that stands apart from the casual indifference people exhibit toward strangers in other cities.

    Because of that, New Orleanians will continue to rally around the cause of Kelly's Food Rescue as they become aware of it. And Robert's bars and restaurants are certainly taking their places in the long tradition of exemplary hospitality we’re famous for here in New Orleans.

    Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com.

    And you can also catch up with more lunchtime conversation about New Orleans food, specifically booze and veggies.

     
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

Thurnis Rollie ,

Great way to learn about the city

Always entertaining and interesting guests that cover all aspects of business.

DouglasRyan ,

Always Entertaining

Peter Ricchiuti is a popular business professor at Tulane University who founded the Burkenroad Report. More importantly for podcast listeners, he is always entertaining, no matter the subject matter. Each week he entertains successful entrepreneurs over lunch at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. He is witty, creative and informative and his podcast rarely disappoints. New Orleans is a hotbed of entrepreneurship and startups, and Peter’s podcast shines a light on all the good things going on there.

EnzoNola ,

changing face of new orleans

hard to believe this show comes out of NO. Reminds me of the kind of entrepreneur tales from years ago in NYC or SiliconV. but with total New Orleans treatment - irreverent and fun with tons of personality tho manages to be NPR quality. it's actually on WWNO the NPR station in NO

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