Melvin Rodrigue has dedicated his career to cultivating the tradition and experience of one of America's grandest fine dining institutions - Galatoire's - and showcasing New Orleans as a world-class destination. A Louisiana native, Rodrigue joined Galatoire’s as their chief operating officer in 1997, rising to the company's presidency in 2012. In that time, he has led Galatoire’s to the highest of culinary distinctions, being recognized in 2005 by the James Beard Foundation as the Most Outstanding Restaurant in the United States.
Working with Galatoire’s ownership group, Rodrigue opened new doors for guests worldwide to take part in Galatoire’s dining tradition in 1998 through an extensive renovation of the venerable restaurant’s second floor dining room, which had been shuttered since World War II. He oversaw Galatoire’s entrance into other markets with the 2005 opening of Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge. This project resulted in the successful relocation to a newly constructed Bistro location in Baton Rouge, which opened to great fanfare in 2013. This growth continued with the 2012 acquisition and subsequent renovation of 215 Bourbon St., unveiling Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak and new private dining spaces for guests. Both locations were conceived in the Galatoire tradition of fine dining.
As part of Galatoire's Centennial in 2005, Rodrigue co-authored the Galatoire's Cookbook to critical acclaim. Originally appointed in 2005, Rodrigue was named president of the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in 2008. During his leadership, the $650 million New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center increased its reputation as a top location for the nation's premier conventions, special events and meetings, accounting annually for more than $1.5 billion in economic impact and 23,000 jobs. Rodrigue served as the chairman of the Louisiana Restaurant Association in 2012 and continues his work on the association's Board of Directors. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation and the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.His previous industry contributions include serving three terms as a board member, executive committee member and treasurer of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, the marketing force behind drawing more than 6 million leisure travelers to New Orleans each year.
Rodrigue has developed new ways for Galatoire's to connect with the community as a founder of The Galatoire Foundation and creating the restaurant's annual Christmas and Mardi Gras Table Auctions. Launched in 2006, this twice-a-year tradition has raised more than $1 million for The Galatoire Foundation and dozens of New Orleans non-profit organizations, as guests bid to reserve a table in Galatoire's famed first floor dining room on the two busiest days of the year, the Friday before Christmas and Mardi Gras. Rodrigue has been personally honored by Gambit Weekly as an outstanding achiever in the "40 Under 40" business category and as a member of city's "Power Generation" by New Orleans CityBusiness. Rodrigue lives in New Orleans and has four daughters, Caroline, Savanah, Eugenie and Adelaide.
Collin Fontenot took over the reins of Galatoire’s Bistro as Executive Chef in 2017. A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Chef Collin fell in love with all things culinary when Chef Chad Jackson (of Lake Charles) introduced him to the kitchen as a teenager. Prior to joining the Galatoire’s team, Collin worked as a traveling chef, opening new restaurants across the country including Willow Nipomo in California.
In the kitchen, Chef Collin takes a local, fresh approach to French fusion cuisine with an emphasis on New American plating and elevating traditional Louisiana classics. He is proud to be a part of the legacy of the Galatoire’s family and grow the Bistro’s solid foundation in the Baton Rouge community. Chef Collin was recently recognized at Fete Rouge as the People's Choice winner for his pan-seared scallops.
Benjamin Phillips, general manager of Galatoire’s Bistro, is a Baton Rouge native who began his career as a pantry chef for a well-known Baton Rouge eatery. He attended Baton Rouge Community College, and upon the receipt of his associates degree in business, he left Baton Rouge and moved to Dallas, where he transitioned to the front of the house and operations for two years.
After returning home to Louisiana, he joined the Galatoire’s family, where he dedicated himself to excellent customer service leading him to rise up through the company. Benjamin has been with Galatoire’s Bistro since 2009, and due in part to his hard work and passion for food and wine, he approaches each day with an opportunity to honor the traditions of the Galatoire’s name while also forging a new identity for the restaurant.
Banquet and Catering Sales Manager
Haley Robert, a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University who grew up in a military family and has lived in multiple places across the country, has been working in the hospitality industry for more than eight years. She began her career as a hostess for a well-known Louisiana eatery and was quickly promoted to a manager. She worked in operations at a number of locations throughout Louisiana.
She joined the Galatoire’s Bistro team in 2015, and was excited to move away from operations so she could focus more on her passion for sales and interacting with guests. As Banquet and Catering Sales Manager, Haley enjoys conceptualizing and adding her own creative touch to special events as well as working with social organizations and participating in community events.
René Sudduth oversees operations as Wine Director and Sommelier at Galatoire’s Restaurant and Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak as well as Galatoire’s Bistro.
Working behind the scenes in the wine and spirits department for three years prior, René took over as Wine Director and Sommelier in July 2017. René’s talent is an invaluable asset to all three Galatoire’s Restaurants.
A native to California, René always had family working in the wine industry, making him passionate for his family’s trade.
René has been with the Galatoire’s family since March 2013, where he started as the first-ever waiter to work both sides of Galatoire’s and Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak on a regular basis.
René is quickly making a name for himself and continues to successfully apply his skill set as an instrumental resource at Galatoire’s.