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John Besh's passion for cooking began in southern Louisiana , where his knowledge of food and dining blossomed at an early age. As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a seasoned professional chef, Besh has experienced years of intense training around the globe. He has worked at prestigious establishments such as Maxim's in New York , The Windsor Court's Grill Room in New Orleans and the Cinnamon Tree in Baltimore .
His love of classical cooking led him to a small town bordering Germany , France and Switzerland , where he spent an apprenticeship at the Michelin-starred Romantik Hotel Spielweg under the direction of famed German chef Karl-Josef Fuchs. After returning to the United States , Besh opened Graham's as Kevin Graham's Chef de Cuisine and later held the same title at the renowned La Provençe Restaurant. These restaurants collected accolades under his direction, including a four star rating by The Mobil Restaurant Guide, four diamonds by The American Automobile Association and Five Beans by Gregory Roberts of the Times Picayune.
Back in his home state, as executive chef for Artesia in Abita Springs, Louisiana, he was named one of Food and Wine magazine's Top 10 Best New Chefs of 2000 and by New Orleans magazine as Best New Chef of 1998. The restaurant has been ranked among the Top Restaurants of America by Gourmet magazine. The James Beard Foundation declared Besh “a rising star of American Cuisine” and Zagat's 2000 dining guide rated Artesia as having the “highest score for food in New Orleans and being the best French restaurant in the city.”
In 2001, Restaurant August burst onto the New Orleans culinary scene with acclaimed chef and native son, Besh, at the helm. The sleek restaurant offers a menu of trend-conscious Euro with Creole touches, making Besh the chef with the buzz. His inspirations for Restaurant August's innovative menu are the classical techniques he learned through school; the demanding apprenticeship in Germany ; several sojourns in France ; all paired with the Creole influences that come naturally to one “born on the bayou.”
In 2003, Besh is joined forces with Harrah's Casino in New Orleans to open a The Besh Steakhouse at Harrah's – not a typical steakhouse by any accounts. The offerings reflect the locale, rich in seafood and New Orleans flavors. Besh relishes the opportunity to explore his creativity within the traditional definition of the all-American steakhouse. The food is good serious meat and potatoes, but infused with the whimsy and humor for which Besh has become known.
In his first restaurant venture outside of Louisiana, John Besh has lent his creative passion for cooking to N'awlins Restaurant at Horseshoe Casino & Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi. N'awlins is nestled in the corner of the casino, though you would be hard pressed to believe you were not in the heart of the French Quarter. With classy, sleek, modern décor, the restaurant invokes a relaxed atmosphere perfect for sampling the extraordinary menu accompanied by selections from one of the most extensive wine cellars in the country. Selections are flavored with a definite New Orleans blend of spices which awaken the palette and make you anxious for a second bite. Chef Besh's passion for his cooking is infused in each menu offering
Besh's passion extends far beyond the kitchen, however. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Besh could be found in a rowboat, looking for staff members in the flooded streets of New Orleans . With his wife and four young sons evacuated safely to North Carolina , he remained focused on his other family – his restaurant team.
Within days, Besh was serving red beans and rice to relief workers. He flew to Washington , DC to participate in “Po'Boy Power!” – an event organized by fellow chefs that raised over $27,000 in just one two-hour stretch, one po'boy at a time. Back in New Orleans , he got Restaurant August cleaned up to the stringent standards of the Health Department, determined to re-open as soon as possible for his staff, his loyal clientele – and his own sanity. They're now open for dinner, albeit with a limited menu, but doing fine under the circumstances.
In addition to the fine dining, Besh has been cooking for the masses – 600 breakfasts and 600 lunches a day, to be exact – under a FEMA contract through which he serves the civil servants, policemen, firemen, even the D.A., living in trailers in Chalmette in St. Bernard's Parish.
As further recognition for his extraordinary efforts, Besh continues to be featured in national the media. Chef John Besh's efforts (and recipes) will be featured in The Wall Street Journal in December; as well as in the February issues of both Gourmet Magazine and Oprah's O Magazine. On Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, November 24, Besh was featured on The Today Show, cooking a Thanksgiving breakfast for the residents of Chalmette . Later that day, back at Restaurant August, Chef Besh was featured on CNN, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for his family, his staff, and their families.
Chef Besh was named one of Food and Wine magazine's Top 10 Best New Chefs of 2000 and Best New Chef of 1998 by New Orleans magazine. The James Beard Foundation also declared Besh "a rising star of American Cuisine."
In his first restaurant venture outside of Louisiana, John Besh has lent his creative passion for cooking to N'awlins Restaurant at Horseshoe Casino & Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi. With classy, sleek, modern décor, the restaurant invokes a relaxed atmosphere perfect for sampling the extraordinary menu accompanied by selections from one of the most extensive wine cellars in the country. Selections are flavored with a definite New Orleans blend of spices which awaken the palette and make you anxious for a second bite. Chef Besh's passion for his cooking is infused in each menu offering.
So keep an eye out for this citizen-chef, making a difference by serving his fellow Louisianans, keeping the nation's positive focus on the city of New Orleans and continuing to push the boundaries of world-class dining. Make your plans now to experience the delightful creations of Chef John Besh's.