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Out To Lunch
Thursdays at 1pm; Sundays at 5pm

Out to Lunch finds Baton Rouge Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel combining her hard news journalist skills and food background: conducting business over lunch. Baton Rouge has long had a storied history of politics being conducted over meals, now the Capital Region has an equivalent culinary home for business: Mansur’s. Each week Stephanie holds court over lunch at Mansur’s and invites members of the Baton Rouge business community to join her.

Find episodes of Out to Lunch here.

  • In a part of the world where hurricanes and severe weather events are an ever present threat that appear to be getting worse, it would seem anyone who could come up with a way to predict not only how your general area would be affected by a storm but how much wind and water were expected at your specific street address... Well, you’d expect that person to be a world-famous gazillionaire and probably a figment of the collective imagination of a storm-weary public. But actually, there is a tool that can do precisely that. And it was developed right down the road at the Stennis Space center by a south Louisiana engineer. That engineer is Elizabeth Valenti, president and CEO of QRisq Analytics, the tech company that came up with this predictive technology. Qrisq uses geospatial analytics engines on big data to provide precise storm surge and wind risk analysis before and after a major storm. This is really important before a storm for all sorts of obvious reasons – like it can help you decide whether you should stay or evacuate, for instance, and whether it’s absolutely necessary to board up those windows. It’s also important on the back end because it can help resolve insurance claims, by determining whether a property was damaged by wind, which is covered by homeowners policies, or by flooding, which is covered by flood insurance. Elizabeth developed the technology in the early 2000s, when she was working at Stennis. In 2015, she spun QRisk Analytics off into its own company. Until recently, the tool was only available to government clients, like municipalities, who have used it to help inform their policy decisions about how to prepare their populations. Beginning with hurricane season 2022, Elizabeth has rolled out a web version of the QRisq app that will enable individual homeowners to determine the risk to their specific properties. Is this going to be an absolute game-changer for all of us living on the Gulf Coast who every time a storm heads our way have to decide whether to stay or run? Unfortunately it's taking a hurricane for subscribers to QRisq to find out. But as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, that day is coming. Elizabeth grew up in St. Bernard Parish, an area that has been battered more than a few times by massive storms. She received her electrical engineering degree from LSU. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.la.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  • Food is something we know we do well in Louisiana. We’re renowned the world over for our Cajun and Creole cuisines, our seafood industry, and the many restaurants and famous chefs we have produced. But Louisiana also has a thriving culture for food entrepreneurs. People may bemoan that our tech or manufacturing sectors lag those of Texas or Silicon Valley, but they cannot quibble with the fact that food-based businesses in Louisiana are a slam dunk! Somebody who's seen more food entrepreneurial slam-dunks than anyone in the state is Gaye Sandoz. Gaye is Director of Foodii, the LSU Ag Center’s Food Innovation Institute. It's a business incubator that specifically helps food entrepreneurs develop, test, produce, package and brand that delicious salsa or healthy protein bars or to die for cookies they’ve made for years to the rave reviews of their family and friends. In the 10 years she has been at the helm of the incubator, Gaye has helped launch literally dozens of food business. She also has developed several successful products of her own, including the Clever Kitchen Microwave Barbecue Chicken Roasters, of which she has sold more than 60-thousand on shopping channel QVC. Gaye first began working in the industry Edible Enterprises in Norco and started her own company, Sandoz Marketing Specialists, to offer consulting services in marketing and food product development. Alvin Tanner is a recent beneficiary of Gaye's expertise. Alvin is owner of Alvin Ray’s Bayou Best Pickles, a food start up based in Gonzales that makes a variety of jarred pickles, the signature of which is a sweet, crisp tangy pickle that Alvin describes as a cross between a dill and a bread-and-butter. Alvin launched the company in 2014, when he started making the first of what would become three versions of his signature pickles. In the years since, he has grown his sales and distribution network, and today his pickles can be found in more than 400 supermarkets in six states, as well as in several local and regional restaurants. Bayou Best Pickles have also proven incredible popular on the rodeo circuit! (Who even knew there was a rodeo circuit in south Louisiana?) As the name on the label suggests, Alvin is from "down the bayou" and has been experimenting in the kitchen since he was a kid. He gave up his day job as a xx to work on Alvin Ray’s Bayou’s Best Pickles full time, and as he says in his inimitable Bayou Cadence, "I can't stop." Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can see photos from this show by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.la. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  • One of the first rules in business is to come up with something that solves a problem your target market didn’t know it had. It sounds so simple, right? But how do you know what those problems are? And, where do those ideas come from in the first place?. Well, in Baton Rouge, one place to look is LSU's Innovation Park and a company called Iventherm. Inventherm's latest innovation is a new startup company called Cremmjoy. Jason Hugenroth is President of Inventherm and Cremmjoy. You may recall Jason's earlier appearance on Out to Lunch when Jason told us about products Inventherm had made for space exploration. Products that found their way into NASA's equipment. At that time Inventherm was the owner of 50 patents. Now they have 60. And their new business, Cremmjoy, is a million miles way from their previous aerospace, automotive and medical devices. Cremmjoy revolutionizes soft serve ice cream and frozen drinks like daiquiris. The revolution is in the technology that drives the way products are made and dispensed. It basically eliminates the time-consuming and expensive process of disassembling, cleaning, and sanitizing the equipment. Jason has been designing things for decades. He is an engineer, with a PhD in the field and a really cool lab at LSU’s Innovation Park. You may not have known soft serve ice cream needed revolutionizing. And you may think the same about retail shopping. Claire Aillet has other ideas. Claire is the creator of Shop The Area, an app that allows customers to shop at local boutiques and retail shops and get same-day delivery within 10 miles of their location. The app brings together the convenience of online shopping while at the same time supporting local shop and boutique owners, who have been hammered by competition from online retailers. Claire is a hair stylist by day, who began working on the app in 2018 and launched it in early 2020. Since then it's started to take off in Baton Rouge with a bunch of local retailers jumping on board and users beginning to discover the combined hybrid power of local retail, online shopping, and speedy delivery. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.la. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  • For more than 20 years now, we’ve been hearing about how Louisiana is losing a football field of coastline every 30 minutes or so. Although progress has been made addressing this very real problem, climate change has continued to make the situation more dire, as temperatures increase and storms become more frequent and intense. What exactly is the status of Louisiana’s efforts to protect and rebuild its coastline? Where are we in the battle against mother nature? To get a readout on how close we are in Louisiana to slip-sliding away into the Gulf of Mexico, we turn to Chip Kline. Chip is Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Affairs, and board chair of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the state agency in charge of saving the Louisiana coastline, which is no small task. In 2023 the CPRA will oversee some $1.35 billion in coastal projects – the largest amount ever in the more than-decade-long history of the state’s coastal program. Those projects include things like sediment diversions, rebuilding marshland, the construction of flood protection structures and water management efforts. Chip has served as chair of the CPRA board since 2018, where he has overseen policy initiatives. He also manages the day-to-day operations of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, which means he is responsible for integrating the functions of all state agencies as they relate to coastal protection and he has been integral in advancing the objectives of the State’s Coastal Master Plan in Louisiana and Washington, D.C. which means he has to be well versed on technical and engineering topics while also comfortable navigating the often choppy political waters of Baton Rouge and DC. Kodi Guillory is President of Sustainable Design Solutions, a Baton Rouge based civil engineering specializing in water treatment plant design, wastewater treatment systems, water quality, coastal restoration permitting, marsh creation design and shoreline protection design. Water and preventing us sliding into the water is a booming field to be in these days in south Louisiana, and Kodi is one of the area’s leading experts. She spent nearly seven years on the staff of the CPRA as an engineering supervisor, where she designed and implemented many of the agency’s projects before going out on her own in 2019 to create sustainable design solutions. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Erik Otts. at itsbatonroug.la. And check out more conversation about Baton Rouge's love/hate relationship with water and our never-ending (hopefully) struggle with water See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
  • The global fast fashion market topped $21 billion in 2021, and by the end of 2022, that number is expected to exceed $93 billion - which will not surprise you if you have teenage girls anywhere in your orbit. The need to keep up with the latest fashion trends is fueling an 8% annual growth in fast fashion, a rate that is unprecedented and largely attributable to the growth of social media. But some entrepreneurs are bucking the mainstream with fashionable trends of their own: vintage clothing and sustainable jewelry. Josh Holder is the owner of Time Warp Boutique, a vintage clothing store in Mid City that carries original men’s and women’s clothing and accessories dating from the 1920s to the early 2000s. Josh opened the store in 2001, back before vintage got to be a thing. In the years since, he has grown the store to be one of the largest vintage clothing stores in the south, with a selection of merchandise that also includes hand crafted upcycled vintage garments, accessories, gifts and jewelry by local artists. Josh didn’t grow up wanting to own a vintage clothing store. Instead, he became enamored of the concept when he went into a vintage clothing store in the 1990s and got hooked. Originally, Josh majored in history at LSU which is more-or-less fitting: today, he considers himself something of a fashion archeologist. Molly Taylor Hatcher is a Louisiana artist and owner of Beneath the Bark Jewelry, which makes jewelry from locally sourced reclaimed and salvaged wood. Molly founded Beneath The Bark Jewelry in 2014, after trying to come up with Christmas gift ideas for her family and friends. In the years since, the company has grown into a fulltime business and brand that has earned Molly national recognition. In 2019, before the whole world shut down for 2 years, Beneath The Bark was invited to show its jewelry collection at New York Fashion Week, where it earned press coverage in Vanity Fair, Vogue, and The Cut. Molly designs all of the jewelry sold at Beneath the Bark. All the wood she uses is recycled from woodworker scraps. And designing and making reclaimed jewelry is not Molly's only artistic talent. She's also a respected singer/songwriter. Check out this video or visit Molly's Facebook Page and explore the music she makes with her husband, Denton Hatcher. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos from this show by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.com. And you can check out more lunchtime conversation about Baton Rouge recycled records and clothes.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.