Carnival season is here. Having guests over? Wondering what to serve? One area chef can help you with that.



A self-described “Irish Channel brat,” Vicki McCain was born and raised in New Orleans years before she became a cooking instructor at Cuvee Bistro Catering Center in Miramar Beach.



For those not from New Orleans, McCain says the Irish Channel is a blue-collar neighborhood where you can find a bar and grocery store on every corner.



During Mardi Gras, all the bars' Corner Clubs march in the Mardi Gras parade.



A major time of celebrating and getting together, food plays a significant part in a festive season, which culminates with the appropriately named Fat Tuesday.



"The main thing is going to the parades," said McCain. "And you meet at someone's house before or after the parade and eat together."



The main staple at the table will be a King Cake, for sure. The other dishes will be Big Easy-inspired dishes that are easy to prepare, serve, and reheat.



"There is no traditional food, per se, other than the King Cake," said McCain. "But you will see a lot of jambalaya and fried chicken. It's more about enjoying good food together."



McCain taught a class Feb. 4 on "Big Easy Carnival Dinner," which she describes as "parade food to serve at your house."



The meal she prepared for the sold-out class included chopped romaine salad with roasted tomatoes, red bell pepper, pecans, blue cheese with a spicy pecan vinaigrette; shrimp and andouille etouffee over basmati rice; and bananas foster flambé over vanilla bean ice cream.



"This is one of my favorite simple New Orleans dinner menus," she said. "Carnival season in the Big Easy calls for hearty meals that will feed a float-load of people and still leave time for parading."



BE THE KING OF THE KITCHEN



Vicki McCain's friend and fellow chef Chris Mongogna, owner of The Marigny, will teach a class Feb. 24 on Mardi Gras Food at Cuvee Bistro Catering Center in Miramar Beach at 12590 Emerald Coast Pkwy. Suite C. Mongogna is also a native of New Orleans, and McCain said if you love New Orleans food and want to know how to prepare the dishes, you will love his class. The class costs $45 and is from 6 to 8 p.m. Check the website www.kitchenique.com for a schedule of classes and to make reservations. "This class will celebrate Mardi Gras with some of his traditional parade food to take with you to the parade. He will prepare some true New Orleans style fried chicken, jambalaya, and the best King Cake you've ever tasted," said McCain.