There are sayings in the English language that employ literal terms but have no literal meaning. For example, when we describe something as “black and white” we mean it’s obvious, not that there’s literally a black object and a white object.  When we say something’s “open and shut” we’re suggesting it’s inarguable, not that anything is literally open and shut – which, when you think about it, is physically impossible.

It’s the same with “above and beyond.” When we say someone has gone above and beyond, we mean they’ve exceeded our expectations. Whether or not my lunch guests today, or their businesses, exceed your expectations will depend on your personal expectations, but what makes them unique is that they literally go above and beyond.

Let’s start with above.

One of the many things tourists – and a few locals – do in New Orleans is, go on a swamp tour. This typically entails sitting in a boat that chugs through the swamp with a tour guide who tosses bits of chicken or marshmallows overboard to attract alligators.

Tyler Richardson took a look at an 8 acre block of Maurepas swamp near LaPlace and decided to go above it. Tyler built the world’s first and only fully aquatic swamp zipline. It’s called Zip NOLA. It’s a half mile, 90 minute zipline journey on 5 separate ziplines, over 2 suspension sky bridges tethered to 100 year old cypress trees.

Tyler Richardson, if you build it they will come - Zip NOLA, his zipline through the swamp, is attracting tourists and locals

Tyler Richardson, if you build it they will come – Zip NOLA, his zipline through the swamp, is attracting tourists and locals

Ernie Foundas is co-owner – along with his partner Adrienne Bell – of Suis Generis. Suis Generis is a Latin term, meaning “in a class of it’s own” but in this case it’s a restaurant in the Bywater.

What puts Suis Generis in a class of its own is that it stretches beyond the walls of the restaurant, beyond the city of New Orleans, and beyond the state of Louisiana, into Pearlington Mississippi.

In Pearlington, Ernie and Adrienne have a farm where they use a German horticulture technique that layers logs, twigs and leaves on the forest floor to create a rich soil in which they grow crops for restaurant ingredients.

Ernie Foundas, locals go to Sui Generis over and over because it's essentially a different restaurant each time they go

Ernie Foundas, locals go to Sui Generis over and over because it’s essentially a different restaurant each time they go

Back in the Bywater, the Suis Generis kitchen is organized around a culinary philosophy called Food Evolution. It’s a technique that uses every single piece of an ingredient – using the byproduct of one dish to create another. For example, using discarded crawfish shells to make bisque, and then using the byproduct of the bisque to make fish sauce.

New Orleans is not a big city. It’s not unusual to run into someone you know at the drug store, or discover your neighbor went to school with your  co-worker. In that way, New Orleans has a kind of small-town feel.

And then you discover there are things going on here you had no idea about. Like a Zip Line out in La Place, or an avant garde restaurant in the Bywater.

Zip NOLA is a departure from the typical tourist trek around the French Quarter and Suis Generis is a departure from the established eateries locals typically gravitate to.

Tyler and Ernie make New Orleans a more colorful and interesting place to visit, and live in.

Tyler Richardson, Peter Ricchiuti, Ernie Foundas, Out to Lunch at NOLA Brewing

Tyler Richardson, Peter Ricchiuti, Ernie Foundas, Out to Lunch at NOLA Brewing

Out to Lunch was recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur.