Messina’s Catering & Events suffered dual blows in 2020 as the exclusive New Orleans caterer for the Lakefront Airport. First, the pandemic hit and forced them to temporarily close one of New Orleans’ most popular breakfast and lunch spots, Messina’s Runway Cafe, along with four other special event spaces at the airport for eight months. Messina’s is happy to report that all are now open including Messina’s Runway Cafe, The Atrium at The Terminal, The Walnut Room at The Terminal, The Terrace at The Terminal, and the Huey P. Long Room at The Terminal.
Messina’s mourns the loss of beloved Chef Leon West
The second blow came with the loss of chef Leon West, who spent the most recent 14 years of his illustrious 50-year career as Messina’s Executive Chef. Chef Leon passed away in August of 2020 at the age of 74. Before his death, West was preparing ready-to-eat meals for the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, one of the many organizations he supported. He was a beloved member of the Messina’s team, and was a mentor to those that worked under him. During his career, he was awarded the American Culinary Federation Medallion for Culinary Excellence in 2011 and was inducted into the African American Chefs Hall of Fame in 2019. His culinary prowess helped Messina’s achieve its sterling reputation as one of the best caterers in the Crescent City.
Chef Daryl Coleman steps into the head chef role
While he left behind a legacy that will leave a mark on the New Orleans culinary scene for a long time, his former sous chef Daryl Coleman has stepped confidently into the role of Messina’s head chef at the Lakefront Airport.
“I know that I have big shoes to fill,” Coleman said. “This is a new chapter for me, but I’m excited for what’s to come.”
On the menu he has retained Chef Leon’s most famous dishes such as Shrimp and Grits and Crab Cakes, and will continue to incorporate Chef Leon’s unique blend of herbs and spices into dishes served at the airport. Coleman has added some of his own culinary fingerprint to menus, including a Brunch Burger which features a fried egg, Swiss cheese, herb aioli and green tomato jam with Brabant potatoes. He also created a Southern Fried Chicken Biscuit featuring a homemade biscuit topped with chipotle honey glaze. And his new Wednesday Special; braised beef tips in a wild mushroom gravy with horseradish mashed potatoes, rosemary green beans and cornbread.
The Lakefront Airport offers the perfect venue for virtually any affair
Constructed in the 1930s, the Lakefront Airport served as New Orleans major airport until 1946 when Louis Armstrong New Orleans National Airport opened. It was used by the U.S. Air Force during WWII and a Cold War-era bomb shelter. The Airport suffered major damage during Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Isaac in 2012, but was carefully restored to original Deco grandeur in 2013. All the original marble walls and columns, terrazzo floors and the coveted murals by world known artist avier Ganzales were restored, making the Lakefront Airport one of New Orleans most dramatic and applauded event spaces.
Messina’s Runway Cafe is a fun way to sample some of Messina’s catering menus without a formal event tasting, and serves breakfast and lunch on weekdays as well as a bottom-less mimosa brunch on the weekends. The Atrium at The Terminal is a spacious Art-Deco, two-story space encased in marble and granite that can accommodate up to 750-guests in a reception style event. The Walnut Room is a more intimate setting ensconced in rich woodwork and warm hues that can host from 30 to 175 guests depending upon the service format. The Terrace at The Terminal overlooks Lake Pontchartrain and the runway and is the ideal setting for weddings, corporate events, and other receptions. The Huey P. Long Room, named for the former Governor of Louisiana, also overlooks the Lake, and is the Airport’s prime meeting space that can accommodate up to 75 guests. Messina’s Catering & Events is the exclusive caterer for all the the Lakefront Airport Terminal.
Messina’s carries on a 60-year tradition of catering excellence
Messina’s Catering & Events is a third-generation family business, and has most recently won three coveted NACE (National Association for Catering & Events) Awards, including for The Terminal’s Menu of the Year both in 2020 and in 2017. Messina’s was also selected by New Orleans CityBusiness readers as the Best Caterer three years running. Recently, Messina’s at the Lakefront Airport was named the “Most Beautiful Place to Get Married”.