If you're a fan of Brennan's of Houston then you have a culinary tie to the great Brennan clan which wrote and rewrote the restaurant business in New Orleans and influenced restaurateurs nationwide.
It also means you have a connection to the family's matriarch, the inimitable Ella Brennan, who at 90 has retired from the restaurant business but whose powerful influence in hospitality continues to govern the many Brennan family brands.
"Miss Ella of Commander's Palace" is a new memoir Brennan wrote with her daughter, Ti Martin (sister to Alex Brennan Martin of Brennan's of Houston). The book, published by Gibbs Smith ($27.99) is an indispensable read for anyone interested in a magical slice of New Orleans history told through the colorful life of Brennan, who opened the game-changing Brennan's in New Orleans and then bought and remade Commander's Palace into the city's most important restaurant.
In addition to the new autobiography, Brennan is the subject of a new documentary, "Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table," that chronicles the life and legacy of the woman whose unerring palate and grasp of the fundamentals of hospitality helped change the way Americans eat. The film is featured in the 2016 Houston Cinema Arts Festival lineup (it will be shown in Houston on Nov. 12).
Three upcoming events will help Houstonians get in the Mardi Gras mood to celebrate Miss Ella.
First up is a dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 28, with Ti Martin to mark the publication of "Miss Ella at Commander's Palace." Thebook-signing and dinner ($150 per couple; $90 for single) will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception followed by a cooking class and a three-course menu by chef Danny Trace that will include hunter's duck and collard green gumbo, followed by Texas Gulf fish Lyonnaise, and Brennan's famous Creole bread pudding soufflé. A copy of the memoir is included.
On Saturday, Nov. 12, the film "Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table" will be shown at 1 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The documentary's director, Leslie Iwerks, will be in attendance. Tickets for Houston Cinema Arts Festival go on sale Oct. 26.
That same day Brennan's will host a brunch and matinee: a three-course brunch at 10 a.m. followed by first-come/first-served transportation to the MFA to attend the 1 p.m. screening of the documentary. Tickets are $46 per person.