I ran into an old friend on Sunday when I covered a couple of events at the new Bayou Haven Bed & Breakfast, which also is becoming a popular events center with its spacious living room area that overlooks Bayou Liberty.
Xavier Paul, one of very few Slidell-area baseball players to really make it in the major leagues, was attending the kickoff for the Camellia City Smooth Jazz Festival, an event scheduled for this fall in Slidell.
Xavier was a highly-rated high school player who was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and went on to play for six seasons in the major leagues, also with the Pirates, Reds and Diamondbacks. I began my newspaper career in sports and understand better than most that it is so very difficult to ever make it in professional sports. Xavier was a guy who not only did it, but became a contributing player for every team he played on.
Now a little over 30 years of age he is hoping he gets one last shot. He was finally released by the D’Backs last year and hasn’t been offered a contract with a new team yet, so he went to Mexico last summer and played for a couple of months to keep sharp. Now, he is working out to be in top condition for what he hopes is another call as spring training is about to begin for the big clubs.
Xavier and his brother Matthew, who also attended the launch for the Jazz Festival, were on the cover of Kreol magazine this month since they both made it to the major leagues—with Matthew spending most of his career as a scout. They are currently showing their support for the festival and were probably two of the coolest looking guys at the party—no wonder the magazine wanted them on the cover.
Hope Xavier gets his shot one more time to play ball. He knows I’m a huge major league baseball fan with my San Francisco Giants and I know that veteran players like him are always a plus for every club. He is probably at the point of his career to become a utility outfielder and a pinch hitter, but he certainly has the skills to do that and play a few more seasons.
Hope you get another chance ‘X.’
Michael Frederic, owner and head chef for Michael’s Restaurant in Slidell, has been seen every time I’ve attended a Bayou Haven event since he apparently connected with owner Dawn Pekarik to handle the food for the special parties they have already been having there.
I have always considered Michael to be one of the great North Shore chefs, if not among the best chefs in the region. For that matter, he has been selected for many awards statewide as one of the best chefs around, and anytime you go to his restaurant on Hwy. 11 or taste his food at special events you can understand why.
Sure enough, he didn’t disappoint on Sunday as I was chatting with Slidell City Court Judge Jim Lamz and his wife, Deanna. One of the servers came by with a plate of interesting looking food—something I didn’t actually recognize since it looked like a four-inch long pastry of some sort, rolled up to be very thin and covered with powdered sugar.
Turned out it was a concoction created by Michael called Eggplant Beignet. It was, in fact, powdered sugar like you find on regular beignets, but inside was cooked eggplant. It was crazy good and something I had never tried before.
We really do have a handful of outstanding chefs on the North Shore, and certainly here in the Slidell area, and as I keep saying—try the local restaurants and you will see that. It sure beats the national chains with the same old stuff you can find at dozens of other similar places.
Props to all our mayors in St. Tammany Parish who attended the recent Freddy Drennan Prayer Breakfast in Slidell.
I covered the event and there were mayors from Mandeville, Covington, Folsom, Madisonville, Abita Springs and Slidell. I know that Pearl River Mayor David McQueen generally attends events like these, however he was unable to attend this year, but has always been supportive of prayer events for the 40 years I have known him. Parish President Pat Brister was also there and La. Sen. Sharon Hewitt led the event as the MC.
I know that everyone reading this column may not be a Christian, but I unashamedly state that this newspaper is owned by a Christian family and we feel it is our responsibility to promote the Christian faith with our newspaper in whatever way we can.
For me, to see all of our parish leaders who also publicly proclaim their Christian faith is a tremendous reason our parish is prospering and continues to be seen as perhaps the most attractive place to live in Louisiana.
I, for one, appreciate the way these leaders state their faith in God and I join them in doing so. For me, now over 60 years of age, I know in my heart that my family’s faith in God has been the right way to live this life—one the Lord has blessed far beyond what I feel we deserve. All I can do is say, “Thank you Lord.”
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.