Common Pleas chief court reporter assumes OCRA presidency

The Daily Legal News announced on May 31 that NCRA member Terri Sims, RDR, CRR, an official court reporter from Clinton, Ohio, has been named president of the Ohio Court Reporters Association.

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From the President: NCRA announces new Strategic Plan

By Chris Willette

NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC

It is with excitement and pride that I announce that the NCRA’s Board of Directors has adopted a new Strategic Plan. We will unveil our new plan on Aug. 2 during NCRA’s Annual Business Meeting. The months-long process included collaboration, debate, and envisioning exercises by the Board and NCRA staff as they relate to the changing industry, the need for growth, and the health and direction of the Association. Throughout our conversations, Executive Director and CEO Marcia Ferranto encouraged us to find and focus on our “true north.”

Although the entire Strategic Plan will remain under wraps for a few more weeks, I want to provide a brief overview of the highlights. The Plan will be supported by three pillars: financial sustainability, branding, and certification. The financial goal will seek to balance the budget over the next three years, and a big piece of that will include NCRA’s Corporate Partnership Program. Branding will consist of updating the image of stenography and creating greater awareness of the court reporting and captioning professions. Certification – and here I pause for emphasis – is our true north. NCRA’s certification program is truly how we showcase steno as the standard for capturing and converting the spoken word to text. Centering our future on certification means both encouraging members to seek and maintain their certifications and informing our consumers that a certified stenographer is the best method for their needs.

The new Strategic Plan will establish the direction for the Association for the next three years, and we are looking forward to all the success that this plan will bring to our members. Please join us at the Annual Business Meeting on Aug. 2 during the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo to learn more details.


Call for Altruism Award nominations

Nominations are now being accepted for the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, the highest honor awarded by the National Court Reporters Foundation. The deadline for nominations is June 15.

The Aurelio Award, which is presented at the NCRA Convention & Expo, is bestowed on a longtime captioner or court reporter who has given back selflessly to the profession or community. The nominee must be an NCRA Participating or Registered member or a Retired Participating or Registered member, have demonstrated altruistic behavior, and have been a working captioner or reporter for at least 25 years.

“Receiving the Aurelio Award was truly one of the highlights of my career as a court reporter. Having the respect of my court reporter colleagues means more to me than anything,” said Rosalie Kramm, RPR, CRR, San Diego, Calif., who received the Altruism Award in 2017.

“Being altruistic is not anything I ever decided to do. I think life is more fun helping people in my wonderful profession,” Kramm added.

For questions or more information about the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, contact B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, at 800-272-6272, ext. 126, or at

Nominate now.

One time in New Orleans: A local’s guide to the city

New Orleans is celebrating its tricentennial in 2018 with the theme of “One time in New Orleans…” where they are asking visitors and locals to share their stories about New Orleans. NCRA Board Member Max Curry shares his story about what he loves about the city, his favorite restaurants and watering holes, activities to do, and invites everyone to come experience New Orleans for themselves during Convention. Max has many, many suggestions on how you can Write Your Own Story in NOLA!

By Max Curry

My family is rich with the tradition and culture of our beloved profession. My sister Betty and I are both court reporters, and my niece Melissa is currently training to become a reporter. Anytime my family gets together, they know there are the obligatory discussions of court reporting, current cases we are working on, and new technology and writing techniques. However, long before knowing this profession, we were steeped deep in the culture of our environment and home, New Orleans and South Louisiana, a.k.a. French Acadiana.

To be from South Louisiana and/or NOLA is to know a deep love of family, food, socializing (it’s where I get it from), parties, Mardi Gras, amazing food, amazing drinks, strong friendships, deep spirituality, and a love of nature. My sisters and I all have the commonality of nature and gardening in our blood — a love of flowers, useful plants, vegetable gardens, beautiful yards, Louisiana courtyards, and accessories for such! Think Steel Magnolias + one brother, and you’ll get the picture! Note: It is part of the reason I have thick skin and a quick wit.

The number one thing for a party or backyard cookout for NOLA, but especially Acadiana, is to never ever run out of food! You will never go hungry at a Louisiana party or cookout. The food is amazing and a competition among everyone as to who has the best recipes! “God bless your heart, but my grandmother’s brother’s recipe for jambalaya is much better.” You can say anything you want in the South (especially Louisiana) as long as it is prefaced with “God bless your heart…”

I’ve asked family and South Louisiana friends (loosely translated to family as well) to share one or two of their individual loves of NOLA and South Louisiana, what they each want you to experience for yourself or learn about us and our culture while our guests in August, and I’ve incorporated those thoughts into this article. Get ready, ’cause everybody had strong opinions and a lot to share. So here goes!

The common thread everyone touched on is our culture! It is a unique, distinguished culture steeped in proudly being Louisiana Southerners. When people ask me what I love about NOLA, my immediate answer is that it is the only place in the continental U.S. I have been that feels like I have left the U.S. and gone to Europe. Standing in a street in the Quarter, you know exactly where you are, and it feels very different than anywhere else. There is an open-minded vibe for you to just be who you are, to love and celebrate your life, and to let your hair and guard down, breathe, and relax. You can do what we were meant to do, celebrate life and enjoy living. When the stresses of our profession become too much, I occasionally go for a massage; but more often than not, I just plan a long weekend and take off (like right this moment to write this article) and head home to my Lady and relax. If you want and/or need to unplug, recharge, and get your mojo back, you just found it: It’s NOLA!

Read Max’s recommendations for cultural experiences in NOLA and/or South Louisiana.

Read Max’s restaurant recommendations for New Orleans.

Read Max’s favorite bars, hangouts, and dance clubs in New Orleans.

Read Max’s miscellaneous things to know and fun things to do.

I know Convention can be an expensive investment between the travel arrangements, hotel, event registration, fun events, etc., but convention is a lot more than just getting CEUs. It is an opportunity to further develop your circle of connections in the reporting community — to network and develop those connections that might just yield work you wouldn’t have known about or had access to otherwise. It is also an opportunity to grow and challenge yourself as a reporter through introduction of the latest and greatest technology and writing techniques that may just be the thing to help up your game to the next level. It certainly has mine!

I hope you will join us in August as my Beautiful Lady, New Orleans, hosts court reporters from around the world as NCRA prepares to offer an incredible educational and networking experience, all while in a city known for her parties, amazing food and drinks, but ultimately a relaxing escape from the realities of life! If you need a getaway to relax and recharge, I hope you will escape with NCRA in August and find yourself again in NOLA!

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is a freelancer, official, and agency owner in Franklin, Tenn. He is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

Register now.


One time in New Orleans: Max Curry’s miscellaneous things to know and fun things to do

New Orleans architecture

New Orleans street cars

New Orleans Jackson Square

St. Louis Cathedral

New Orleans City Park






New Orleans Mardi Gras







By Max Curry

  1. Remember, you can carry an open drink anywhere in NOLA, but it has to be in a plastic or paper container – no glass containers on the streets outside of the bars or restaurants.
  2. Catch the St. Charles street car and ride down into the Garden District to see all the beautiful homes, oak trees, and architecture.
  3. If you have your family and/or children with you, head out to City Park and Audubon Zoo for the afternoon. There are several ancient live oaks in the park that are amazingly beautiful and a great site for pictures.
  4. Enjoy the Riverwalk and Crescent Park at Jackson Square and watch the mighty Mississippi River rush by, along with the paddle wheel riverboats. It is a great escape back into the beauty of nature, all just a few steps from the hustle-bustle of the Quarter.
  5. Enjoy coffee and some beignets while relaxing in Jackson Square in front of the Cathedral. There is some amazing people-watching right there, as well as being beautiful and relaxing in its own right.
  6. While in Jackson Square, be sure to walk around the periphery of the Square and enjoy all the amazing artists, performers, and shops, and have your fortune told in front of St. Louis Cathedral.
  7. Be sure to walk into the Cathedral and take a peek. St. Louis Cathedral was completed in 1720 and is the oldest cathedral still in active use in the U.S. If you have a chance to attend Mass, even if you’re not Catholic, it is a worthwhile experience. Life is all about the experiences, right?
  8. If you are standing in front of the church, the alley to your left is called Pirate’s Alley. It is a must for all visitors. You can find the stories about this alley on the Internet and/or any of the walking tours you go on in the city. A few good restaurants and bars are here, all hidden away in the shadows of the Cathedral.
  9. The Old Absinthe Bar (not House on Bourbon) is in Pirate’s Alley as well, and it’s fun to watch their mixology in action. Sit at one of the outside tables to people-watch and quench your thirst in the late afternoon/early evening hours. (As a side note, I’m here now writing this article, so it is one of my favorite hangouts too.)
  10. Also, if you are looking for a mask for the Saturday night masquerade NCRA is hosting to celebrate our members, there is a shop in Pirate’s Alley I always go to to either buy or compare to all the other mask shops. I bought my mask for the masquerade here. They hand make all the added details, feathers, and sequins, and at a very surprisingly affordable price. Lots of mask shops all over the Quarter, though, but this one is my go-to.
  11. Leave Jackson Square at this point and head across the street to the French Market. Food and drink opportunities, as well as shopping, all in a crossroads of Louisiana culture, await you in the French Market.
  12. At the end of the French Market, stroll onto Esplanade and enjoy this beautiful avenue of ancient oaks and French Quarter architecture. It is one of my favorite streets in NOLA.
  13. While in this area, if you love plants, botanicals, fountains, yard accessories, etc., you have got to stop by the American Aquatic Gardens over on Elysian Fields Avenue. I never go without bringing a new plant or piece of yard art home with me. James calls it my “NOLA Mothership.”

Don’t you want to visit New Orleans now? Register for the NCRA Convention & Expo.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is a freelancer, official, and agency owner in Franklin, Tenn. He is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at


One time in New Orleans: Max Curry recommends cultural experiences

By Max Curry

For an experience of culture in NOLA and/or South Louisiana, the following are recommended.

Plantation tour along the Mississippi River
Whichever tour you choose to do, they all cover the big plantation houses and gardens from NOLA to Baton Rouge. There are another couple plantations just past Baton Rouge (one of which is listed on “Ghost Hunters” as one of the most haunted places in the U.S., The Myrtles.) If you have all day, it is worth adding to your tour. Otherwise, just stick with the tours that cover from NOLA to Houma, which is just south of Baton Rouge. It is about a half-day tour, but a great cultural experience. You must see Oak Alley (featured in Interview with a Vampire), and Houma’s House (the most amazing Gone-With-the-Wind meets 12-Oaks landscaping you will ever see). Both plantations have amazing restaurants paired with them as well, so have a light breakfast and plan to arrive for your mid-morning meal hungry… and enjoy!

Swamp tour
I know this sounds a little dirty and creepy, maybe even a little scary, but the swamp tour is a fun and beautiful tour of the surrounding swamps of NOLA, some of which is by airboat, so dress appropriately. You get to see the beauty of the natural environment around NOLA: the moss, the beautiful trees, the swamp flowers, and the wildlife that call the swamp home. You will learn about our unique environment. You will rave to your friends back home about this experience. After all, a life well lived is a series of great experiences.

The cemetery tour
NOLA and South Louisiana are known for their beautiful above-ground cemeteries. The water table is so close to the ground in NOLA, you can’t bury underground or when it gets very moist with rain in the spring, storms, and/or hurricanes, the dead will revisit you — and I don’t mean in the haunted way. Long ago New Orleanians learned through necessity to bury above ground, not below. There is an amazing process to this whole ritual within families that you learn about, and how the process works over the period of one year. I will leave the rest to your tour, but it is extremely interesting and eerily beautiful as well. Make sure any tour you take includes Lafayette Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2. If they don’t, skip it. Find another tour that includes them.

A haunted New Orleans tour
NOLA is famous for lots of things, but among the most famous are the stories of ghosts, zombies, vampires, witches, werewolves (known in Louisiana as the Rougaroux), and voodoo! Any one of these subjects alone for a city to be famous for would be a lot, but NOLA is contending with stories and events surrounding all six — and sometimes it is all six together! Think of Dynasty meets Dallas meets The Shining meets American Werewolf in London having a muddy battle royale in the swamp, and you’re getting a clear picture! NOLA is the crossroads in America of the bizarre. Almost all these tours are walking tours; a few are by bike, buggy, or Segway. You can find tours that address any one of these subjects individually, or ones that have a cross section of a few or all of them combined. Come thirsty and plan to have a lot of fun on these tours, learn a little bit of history, and get the bejezus scared out of you along the way.

This is one of the few times I will give a specific recommendation in this article. If you are interested in a tour that addresses all subjects, is well done, and a lot of fun, try the Witches Brew Tour or the Lord Chaz Ghost Tour. When I have friends or family I take on one of these tours in NOLA, I always go with one of these two companies. They all do a good job, but these two provide just a little lagniappe (little something extra, the baker’s dozen).

Historical Quarter tours
There are multiple forms of French Quarter tours you can undertake: 1) on-foot tours; 2) bike tours; 3) horse-drawn buggy tours; 4) Segway tours; 5) Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tours. I haven’t done all of these, but I have heard from family and friends that all are fun and educational. They are also a quick way to get your bearings in the Quarter as to what’s what, what you need to walk back and see and experience as boots on the ground, and what was good once for edification purposes but now you can move on.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
If you have your family along for the trip, another great thing to do with the kids would be New Orleans’s Audubon Aquarium. It’s at the start of the French Quarter on the river and Canal Street and very easy to get to. You can’t miss it. The aquarium could take up to half a day to tour if you’re taking your time and reading and observing everything. Kids will love it; the kid in me did.

Cultural development in art, architecture, and antiques
Royal Street is one of the central corridors in the Quarter. It runs parallel with Bourbon Street, just one street over but closer to the river. It’s a lot cleaner and less noisy, and it is an area deeply steeped in culture, beauty, architecture, and antiques. Amazing art shops, old-world antiques, traditional NOLA balconies and building architecture, and street artists abound on Royal. You’ll hear a jazz band playing, then a new-world rendition of jazz one block up, an actor playing at the art of mimicry and/or frozen art, then two blocks down three boys playing drums on 5-gallon buckets that will blow your mind as to how talented they are, as well as people playing and dancing, giving poetry or tarot card readings, and performing Shakespeare. On top of all that, there are lots of places along the way to quench your thirst or fill your stomach with incredible food selections. NOLA’s beautiful Federal Court of Appeals building is on lower Royal as well.

Some of the art shops are amazing. My nephew David’s favorite art shop on Royal Street is Caliche & Pao. There is some beautiful art in this shop, but most of the buildings in the paintings look like they were painted after having one too many wobbly pops (beer or mixed drink). You will see what I mean when you visit. Love their art, though; very fun and jovial. My favorite art shop on Royal is Sutton Gallery. I’ve personally spent way too much money in that shop, but I love their art and the eclectic nature of the artists in this particular gallery. It’s a must-see in my opinion. I stop by every time I’m in the Quarter just to be inspired and amazed!

Riverboat cruises
Two riverboats, the Natchez and the Creole Queen, are docked in NOLA and permanently touring the Mississippi River from the Quarter every day. Both offer day and evening cruises that take you down the river toward the Gulf and then back to the Quarter again. They tend to run as three-hour tours. Each offers a package that is either the cruise alone with a cash bar, or cruise and a meal. I recommend the food on the cruise. They do a first-class job with this fun event, and the tour offers a beautiful view of the swamp and city from the river as well.

Frenchmen Street area
The Frenchmen Street area is a six city-block area that adjoins the French Quarter in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. The southern border of the Quarter is Canal Street, with the northern border being Esplanade. When you cross Esplanade Street, you are now in the Marigny area and only a couple blocks away from Frenchman Street. An easier route would be to walk all the way through the French Market, and at the end of the French Market you are only two blocks from Frenchmen Street in the Marigny.

This is a very eclectic area with a variety of live music venues, clubs, and great restaurants and bars. Many of the people who work in the Quarter live in the Marigny area, and Frenchmen Street is their go-to hangout for relaxation, not the Quarter. This is a place to listen to great music, eat great food, all outside of the party-touristy atmosphere of the Quarter. If you want to see how the locals do it, this is where you go. A tremendous amount of fun there every evening.

Mardi Gras World
It will require a Lyft/Uber ride to get to, but the Mardi Gras World is something everyone needs to see. It is about a two-hour tour, but you learn a lot about the history of the festival and get to see a lot of floats up close and personal. They also have many famous floats from the past. The last time I took friends to the museum, I spotted a float from my childhood. Tons of childhood memories around Mardi Gras here!


Don’t you want to visit New Orleans now? Register for the NCRA Convention & Expo.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is a freelancer, official, and agency owner in Franklin, Tenn. He is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

One time in New Orleans: Max Curry’s favorite bars, hangouts, and dance spots

By Max Curry

Pat O’Brien’s
Yes, it is a little touristy, but a fun time to be had by all. Some of my favorite memories in NOLA over the years have been at Pat O’s. It is the home of the world-famous hurricane, and there is no better or more affordable place to get the drink. They do a first-class job with their hurricanes, and they are always consistent.

Pat O’s is divided up by its courtyard into three separate bar areas. Sit in the courtyard by the flaming fire and water fountain with friends and get lost in conversation and drinks. The front bar area surprisingly has a great assortment of food options that are well prepared. When you are ready for a change, head to the piano bar at the backside of the courtyard and for $1 and a song request written on a napkin, you can have a fun-filled sing-along with old and new friends. Photographers come through and will take traditional black-and-white photos of you and your group for lifelong cherished memories. Continue to enjoy drinks from servers who work the room. However, these drinks taste like Kool-Aid and will sneak up on you quickly, so pace yourself and always have a friend or two with you if you’re indulging in an adult beverage, as the pickpockets and troublemakers look for the lone antelopes who have had one too many wobbly pops.

Bourbon O’Bar
Located at Bourbon and Orleans Streets, this is mine and James’s favorite bar in NOLA. It’s also my cousin Syd and her husband’s favorite hangout as well, plus many other friends who love the city. If we’re in NOLA for a long weekend, you can find us here at some point. The bar is part of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel and is a very grown-up kind of bar. If you’re looking for loud and rowdy, this is not your place. It’s a bar on the fringe of the party — a good place to be a part of the party but just outside of it, able to observe, but not in the mess.

The drinks are a little more expensive than anywhere else on Bourbon, but well worth it. All the drinks are made with fresh ingredients right in front of you. The lemons are zested right in front of you; the oranges are squeezed; the grapefruits are puréed all right there while you watch. You can taste the difference in the quality of their adult beverages.

In addition to the bar area, there are couches divided up into living room areas for you and your friends to gather, enjoy a drink and appetizers, tell some stories, and enjoy each other’s company, all while watching the party on the street. They are also known for showing old classic movies to set the tone for the bar, and there is great live jazz music nightly.

The Pirate’s Bar (Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop)
At the very end of the entertainment area on Bourbon Street where the residential part begins, the Blacksmith Shop has an interesting history of being a blacksmith’s shop and bar that was a cover for pirates in Old New Orleans, one of the most notorious of which was the pirate Jean Lafitte. Now it is a much-loved hangout for locals and tourists alike. It is a small bar with a small courtyard adjoining. It is a dimly lit but fun gathering spot. At the back of the bar, pull up a chair around the piano, have a drink, and sing along to your favorite songs being played live. It is a tremendous amount of fun.

Krazy Korner Bar
This bar is appropriately named, because it’s a krazy time inside! They have live music daily and nightly. It’s more of a jazz and blues kind of joint. There is always a fun time to be had at Krazy Korner, though. They have an upstairs balcony to hang out with friends, have a drink, and do some great people watching from above.

Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge
The Carousel Bar is famous for the fact that the main bar area rotates very slowly, like a carousel, hence, the name. It is located in the very upscale Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street. Try to go in off times, because this is a very popular bar with locals as well. It is sometimes difficult to find a place to sit. They also serve food, and there is live piano music most of the time.

Old Absinthe House on Bourbon
This is one of my favorite people-watching spots and, in my opinion, the best place on Bourbon Street to get a Bloody Mary (second best in the City), although they are also known for their absinthe drinks. Take your time and soak in the atmosphere.

Grapevine Bar & Bistro
I already spoke about the Grapevine. This is my favorite spot in the city from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. during happy hour for flights of wine, complimentary fried bacon, and great people watching.

Lafitte’s in Exile on Bourbon
Not to be confused with the Pirate Bar, Lafitte’s is a very eclectic, mixed crowd. It is known as a gay bar, but not so much anymore. It is more of a mixture of everyone and anyone nowadays. Thursday evenings are a lot of fun as they do karaoke upstairs. They have a great balcony that runs along two sides of the building with bistro tables, so it’s a great place to view the city as you can see all the way down Bourbon Street back to the end at Canal. They also display dance videos onto the wall of the building across the street on Bourbon and play music. There are always people dancing in the street here.

Lafitte’s in Exile is on Bourbon and half a block from the Blacksmith Shop/Pirate’s Bar heading away from the hustle-bustle of Bourbon Street, so a little more laid-back and a great place to hang with friends outside of all the craziness that can be the Quarter and Bourbon Street.

The Swamp
Now you’re back to the craziness again. A great dance club with an outside courtyard where you can ride an electronic bull if you’d like. I have seen a few folks get bruised on the bull after too many wobbly pops (wink, wink, Amber). It is always a fun time at the Swamp with modern dance music. Tends to be a crowd of people in their twenties and thirties, but all are welcome. It is a good mixed crowd.

The Cats Meow
This bar always has a great band with dancing abound. Bands can be anything from jazz to rock to current mainstream to 1970s classics. They are also known for their karaoke, so be sure to check the schedule. It’s a fun place to hang out, dance, and cut up with friends.

Dance Clubs Oz & The Pub
(On Bourbon and across the street from each other)
Both bars are gay bars, but awesome dance clubs with a very mixed crowd. Always have great DJs, great drinks, great music. Oz is known on Friday and Saturday nights as the place to go to get your dancing on. Disclaimer: They also both have go-go dancers on the bars, so don’t go if you are going to be shy or embarrass easily.

The Funky Pirate Bar
They always have a great band, which can be a mixture from blues to 1960s, 1970s, 1980s classics. However, this bar is not known for their drinks, so bring your own. New Orleans is that kind of city – one where you can wander around with a drink in hand, as long as it is not in a glass container. Most bars will let you bring a drink in, but not all.

Tropical Isle
The home of the world-famous hand grenade drink, Tropical Isle offers a great time to everyone. It’s on the corner of Orleans and Bourbon, right across the street from the Bourbon O’Bar I wrote about earlier. It is a fun little place with an upstairs balcony area for street viewing while enjoying an adult beverage. They also have a live street cam where you can appear to the world in all your glory. Note: It was featured recently in the movie “Girls Trip.” Remember the scene where they were zip lining across Bourbon Street? Enough said!

Fat Catz
Great dance club with live music daily and nightly. They play an eclectic blend of music. Drinks can be a bit pricy here, so come for the entertainment and maybe buy your drinks elsewhere.

Don’t you want to visit New Orleans now? Register for the NCRA Convention & Expo.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is a freelancer, official, and agency owner in Franklin, Tenn. He is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

One time in New Orleans: Max Curry recommends restaurants

By Max Curry

Chartres House
Request a table on the street so you can people watch. If not, then close enough to watch the comings and goings on the street, or sit in the courtyard. Chartres House is always solid on their food and drinks and a great place to get lost in NOLA with friends, conversation, good drinks, and good food.

The Court of Two Sisters
The best for lunch/brunch with friends. Sit in the courtyard! Sit in the courtyard! Sit in the courtyard! I know it’s hot outside, but sit in the courtyard! You won’t regret it! Amazing buffet of great southern Louisiana and traditional Cajun foods. You can’t go wrong here, and you won’t go hungry. Might need reservations, though, so be sure to check ahead of time so you’re not disappointed. If you go for dinner, reservations are required, and it is more dressy then as well.

The Ruby Slipper*
Love, love, love me some Ruby Slipper! Their menu is literally food porn — everything is amazingly divine! I have never had a bad meal here, but my favorite is the Nectar Cream Stuffed French Toast (tell me you didn’t just gasp), and the Eggs Cochon (I’m hungry writing this). All dishes are amazingly prepared from taste, smell, to esthetics! Note: The Eggs Cochon dish for the Ruby Slipper was featured on the Food Network last year — and utterly the most amazing thing you may ever eat!

Be sure to read the story on the back of the menu about how the husband and wife created their successful restaurant just a few short years ago. An inspiring and amazing story of overcoming adversity for the love of a city and its culture and a love of creating great food, all in an effort to come home.

And the crème de la crème: the bacon-infused vodka, fully dressed Bloody Mary! OMG, when I say full dressed, I mean, she’s wearing a ball gown! Do not go there and not order this! I don’t have a sufficient adjective to describe this experience. However, people who have accompanied me here and had this drink who didn’t even like a Bloody Mary have walked away saying, “I think this is the best mixed drink I’ve ever had and definitely the prettiest!”

If there is only one restaurant I take friends to eat in NOLA, it will be the Ruby Slipper! This is authentic NOLA/South Louisiana/Cajun food at its best. There are now five locations in New Orleans, but my favorite is the original one in the Marigny area on Burgundy Street (pronounced bur-gund-ee, not like the color.) Run to get there; don’t walk!

The Gumbo Shop
Usually the Gumbo Shop has a wait, but it’s worth your while. Known for its gumbo, it’s a must for traditional NOLA fair of all types.


Traditional Creole/Cajun food. It’s James’s (my spouse’s) favorite restaurant in NOLA. It’s in the Mid-City area, so you’ll need to take a Lyft/Uber to get there. You will need reservations, or else be prepared for a long wait. It’s popular with tourists and locals alike. Great food and quirky atmosphere, all steeped deep in the Creole culture of NOLA.

You don’t think of Italian food when you think of NOLA, but you would be incorrect in that assessment. A large Italian population who migrated to the U.S. in the last 100 years have created a pocket of Italian culture, and food in New Orleans. Irene’s is the best example of those offerings. For years we would walk by Irene’s and the smells would be incredible. I would always say, “I want to eat here for dinner.” However, it would be too late to make reservations, and we’d never think of it ahead of time — until four years ago. It was worth the wait and did not disappoint. Amazing smells, tastes, atmosphere, and wine offerings. You will need reservations, or you can expect a long wait. It’s popular and good!

Marigny Brasserie*
It is in the Faubourg Marigny area adjacent to the north end of the Quarter (The Frenchmen Street area I already spoke about). The Brasserie is an exceptional restaurant with traditional NOLA offerings – always consistent and out of the touristy area. This is a local favorite where you’ll get authentic New Orleans food, dining with your everyday New Orleanians, not tourists. If the locals love it, that’s gotta tell you something.

Rocky & Carlo’s*
This restaurant is in Chalmette, so a Lyft or Uber will be required. One of my sisters is all about Rocky & Carlo’s, but come hungry, and I mean hungry. You get a generous helping of whatever you order at this joint. They’re known for their mac-n-cheese and their roast beef, but everything is delicious! Another famously popular site for locals to dine.

The Country Club*
Adjacent to the Marigny area, the Country Club is located in an up-and-coming area of New Orleans called the  Bywater. This is a grand, traditional styled, New Orleans home converted into a restaurant and upscale bar. Traditional Creole/Cajun offerings are found on the menu, all while surrounded by the grandeur of the Old South, all in casual dining. It is worth the Lyft/Uber ride over as another local favorite — and not a place you will bump into many tourists. Note: This restaurant is a half block from where James and I are building a second home, so it’s going to be our official new neighborhood soon, and The Country Club will become our lunch go-to.

Commander’s Palace
Deep in the beautiful Garden District, you can ride the trolley to get to Commander’s Palace or take a Lyft/Uber. It is traditional fine dining for lunch and dinner at its best and has an enforced dress code, so check ahead. It will require a reservation, as it’s popular with locals, businessmen having lunch, and tourists alike. The Palace is known for its Turtle Soup and 25-cent martinis during the lunch hour. That alone is worth the trip to the Garden District for me.

Note: Commander’s Palace is near and dear to my heart, because it was my mother and father’s special event go-to place. I have black and white pics of them from the 1950s and 1960s dressed to the nines, with my mother sporting long white gloves with her gown while dining at the Palace for dinner. It is nowhere near that dressy now — although you still see it occasionally — but they still have a strict dress code, so come prepared.

French Market Restaurant
I love the French Market Restaurant, which is known for its fresh seafood dishes, all prepared with the catches from the day. Traditionally prepared Gulf Coast/Cajun/Creole seafood. This is seafood at its freshest and finest, prepared in traditional NOLA style. If you can, get a table on the upstairs balcony for a beautiful view of the Quarter and river while you dine.

The Grapevine Bar & Bistro*
Gently nestled on Orleans Street, which runs from the back of the Cathedral at Royal Street to Bourbon Street, the Grapevine Bar & Bistro is my favorite hangout from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. during happy hour. Make sure to get a table on the sidewalk and enjoy flights of wine, served with complimentary fried bacon. Get a charcuterie plate, enjoy the wine, and prepare for some amazing people watching! A healthy cross section of humanity walks through here every hour. Go with new and/or old friends and prepare to get lost in time and conversation in this spot. Note: The inside courtyard is a great place to get off the street and have a great meal as well if you’re looking for something more filling.

In the 1950s, NOLA was the major port of entry into the U.S. for bananas coming from South America. Back then, Chef Blange was challenged to create a New Orleanian dish based on bananas that the restaurant could feature, which gave birth to Brennan’s Bananas Foster, and the rest is culinary history. This is my favorite dessert in the whole world! The Brennan Family is deeply steeped in the culinary culture of New Orleans, with major restaurant offerings all over the city, having helped to develop many of Louisiana’s great chefs over the years. You can’t go wrong with Brennan’s. You will need reservations and check on dress attire as well.

Described as a microcosm of the city itself, I would have to agree. Galatoire’s is all about traditional Southern Louisiana food being prepared well and with flair to boot. Fine dining at its best, but not overly pretentious either.

A little more pretentious, especially as popular as Emeril himself has gotten, but an amazing dining experience nonetheless, Emeril’s serves traditional Cajun/Creole fair and lots of it, so arrive hungry. You will need reservations. It is more casual for lunch than for dinner.

Paladar 511*
Located in the Marigny area, Paladar is a fairly new culinary offering in NOLA, and it is consistently good and very eclectic. I enjoy eating on the second floor balcony inside overlooking the restaurant interior where you can see all the comings and goings in the restaurant, and you get a bird’s-eye view as to what looks good on everyone’s plate. You will need reservations as it has become very popular with the locals.

Acme Oyster House
If you like oysters, you’ve found the place. They have oysters prepared any way you can imagine, as well as all sorts of oyster dishes. For lunch and dinner there is usually a wait, so be prepared with a drink to tide you over until time to eat.

This is a meat lovers’ paradise and one of our friend’s favorite dining spots in NOLA, with dishes prepared in traditional Louisiana recipe style. It can be dressy or casual; they are not at all stuffy about it. Fun, fine dining with great food and incredible smells.

NOLA Poboy’s*
Authentic-styled po’boy sandwiches, with the extra love and time required in preparation to do it right. Murray, the owner and chef, knows what he’s doing. A great variety of sandwich offerings, along with gumbo, all served on traditional French bread, a culinary delight of mine. My favorite is the pot roast debris po’boy. Make sure you get it “fully dressed” with au jus on the side for the authentic experience. James loves the fried shrimp po’boy full dressed. You can’t go wrong with either one, but lots of po’boy offerings on their menu.

Central Grocery
A great place by Jackson Square to get a muffaletta (a lot like a Poboy, only prepared very differently; it is an Italian version of a Poboy.). Not a lot of room in this restaurant to eat, so plan to get it to go and head to Jackson Square and have a picnic.

St. Roch’s*
St. Roch’s is on the far side of the Marigny area. James and I walk everywhere, but it might be better for you to take a Lyft/Uber to get here. The best way to describe St. Roch’s is a bunch of food trucks (without the trucks) under one roof in a historic building. I know, sounds strange, but it is awesome! Love St. Roch’s. It offers very eclectic choices of all types of NOLA/South Louisiana/Creole/Cajun foods, with a bar area in the back if you want a glass of wine to go with your food selection. St. Roch’s is always a hit with everyone we take there! Everyone wants to know when we’re going back to St. Roch’s.

Café Du Monde
Last, but nowhere near least…Café Du Monde! Everybody already knows about Café Du Monde, so I won’t go on and on. There are no reservations and the lines can be long, so go during the off times to avoid the wait. Also, it’s often too crowded under the canopy, so we enjoy getting our beignets (French doughnuts) and drinks to go. We usually head over to Jackson Square across the street and either picnic in the park under one of the oaks or go find a spot along the peripheral of the square on a bench. Make sure you get extra powdered sugar in your bag to go. If you’re gonna do it, do it right! Enjoy!

* Local favorites that tourists usually don’t know about.

Don’t you want to visit New Orleans now? Register for the NCRA Convention & Expo.

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, is a freelancer, official, and agency owner in Franklin, Tenn. He is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

Effective Oct. 1, 2018, New Exam Retention Policy

NCRA places a high value on the standards it sets for the professional certifications it offers.  As part of the Association’s commitment to maintaining these high standards and better serving its members, effective Oct. 1, 2018, a three-year time requirement on completing the components needed to earn a certification will be put in place on the recommendation of the Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR).

Under the current system, NCRA does not put any expiration on already-passed requirements earned towards a certification. In an effort to align our policies with certification best practices, an exam retention policy has been approved. Enacting an exam retention policy strengthens our compliance of best practices for our accreditation through ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training).

Why the change?

CAPR, which is responsible for the development and administration of continuing education programs and credential examinations, reviewed the current policy, which allows Skills Tests (SKT) and Written Knowledge Tests (WKT) scores to remain valid indefinitely. Members of the Council made the recommendation to place a three-year requirement on completing the components needed to earn a certification. Benefits of the new policy are that candidates are highly likely to maintain their skills while completing all requirements and that candidates will be more likely to pass all requirements for reporter certifications because their skills (speed and/or accuracy levels) will be at their highest.

How it works

Under the new policy, candidates for certification, who have taken any mandatory certification education requirements or passed any SKTs or WKTs, have until Nov. 1, 2021, to pass the remainder of requirements for the certification for which those requirements apply.

Passing test scores will expire after three years if a candidate fails to complete the additional requirements to earn that certification. If an education component/test score expires, the candidate will need to repeat the education component or successfully retest before being able to earn the certification.

Certifications with Education Eligibility Requirement

  • Certification Seminars and/or Workshops: Once an attendee has completed the CLVS Mandatory Seminar, CRC Workshop, or other education as a mandatory component of a certification process, he or she has three years from the date of completion to successfully complete the other requirements to earn that certification.
  • Should three years lapse from the date of completing the education component without successfully passing the other requirements, the education will expire, and the candidate will be required to retake the education component to earn the certification.

Certifications with only Written Knowledge Test and Skills Test Requirement

  • Written Knowledge Tests and Skills Tests: Once a candidate has successfully completed a Written Knowledge Test or Skills Test with a passing score, he or she has three years from the date of the exam to successfully complete the other requirements to earn that certification.
  • Should three years lapse without successfully passing the other requirements, the test score will expire, and the candidate must retake the test prior to earning the certification.

The new Exam Retention Policy is effective October 1, 2018. Any person with an existing history of passed educational components or passed tests will have three years to complete the remaining components and earn their certifications. All pre-existing passed test histories will have an expiration date of November 1, 2021. After October 1, 2018, any person passing a required education component or a skills or written knowledge test will have an expiration of three years from the date of the official pass.  Have additional questions? View the Exam Retention Policy FAQs.

WKT committee reviews test questions at NCRA headquarters

From left to right: Amy Davidson (NCRA) Allison Kimmel (Co-Chair), Lynette Mueller, Laura Brewer, Geanell Adams, Cindy Cheng (Pearson VUE), Wade Garner (Co-Chair), Angie Starbuck

On May 4 and 5, members of NCRA’s Written Knowledge Test (WKT) Committee worked with Cindy Cheng from Pearson VUE to update questions in the Association’s item bank for the RPR and RDR certifications. Six of the committee members met at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va.

Committee members who gathered at NCRA’s headquarters to update questions included:

  • Geanell C. Adams, RMR, CRR, CRI, Raymond, Miss.
  • Laura P. Brewer, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Los Altos, Calif.
  • co-chair Wade S. Garner, RPR, CPE, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • co-chair Allison Kimmel, RDR, CRR, CRC, Marysville, Ohio
  • Lynette L. Mueller, RDR, CRR, Germantown, Tenn.
  • Angela R. Starbuck, RDR, CRR, CRC, Columbus, Ohio
  • Susan Veres, RMR, CRR, CRC, Viroqua, Wis. (attended remotely)

Over the course of the meeting members reviewed, reworked, reworded, or completely revamped over 423 questions. Committee members also worked remotely prior to the meeting reviewing hundreds of items in the bank in preparation for the group review.

NCRA also thanks those committee members who were unable to attend but who have contributed remotely throughout the year:

  • Vonni Rae Bray, RDR, CRR, Laurel, Mont.
  • Jessica Lynn Davis, RPR, Brandon, Miss.
  • Carrie Marbut Robinson, RPR, CRR, CRI, Hokes Bluff, Ala.
  • Katherine Schilling, RPR, Richmond, Va.
  • Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, Riverview, Fla.

NCRA’s premier certifications rely on the hard work of our volunteer subject matter experts. Please join us in thanking the WKT Committee and consider volunteering your time and expertise for an NCRA committee.