Adding spice to Mardi Gras 2022: Krewe of Culinary Queens of New Orleans


2022 Queen Imani Nia Ruffins, courtesy of FION Productions

Faith McLean, Contributing Reporter

Soon parade-goers will be fighting over decorated chef hats, to celebrate the Krewe of The Culinary Queen of New Orleans’ historic Mardi Gras debut for the upcoming 2022 Mardi Gras season, in the famously unincorporated areas of Jefferson Parish

Owner of Let Us Cater For You, catering company, Akasia Lee-Nicholas, like many of us, used quarantine as a time to soul-search and act on her passions. “So many businesses took a huge hit. The captain of the krewe, Akasia Lee-Nicholas, was like, we need to do something. We need to organize these ladies who own culinary brands,” The Culinary Queens brand ambassador Kim Dilosa said.  

In the wake of small, locally-owned restaurants being forced to shut down across New Orleans due to COVID-19, and now because of Hurricane Ida damages, Akasia Lee-Nicholas acted on her idea of bringing together a network of women, who own food and beverage brands and restaurants, to create the nonprofit organization, The Culinary Queens of New Orleans. 


In hopes of supporting and uplifting female-owned businesses, The Culinary Queen’s outreach programming centers around its members’ and the community’s need for an empowering group of female business leaders and family-friendly activities.  


In early October, the Krewe of TCQNO announced a float would be made in honor of Chef Grace Landry, a breast cancer survivor and current member of the nonprofit. In their mission to bring together other women in the New Orleans metropolitan area, the Culinary Queens will be having open spots, on Chef Grace’s float for Mardi Gras 2022, to other fellow breast-cancer survivors in the community. 


For Halloween weekend, the Culinary Queens hosted a free trunk or treat event, which was open to local families looking for a safe, COVID-19-friendly way of bringing back neighborhood fun and festivities. “A little sense of normalcy, but we are still trying to be very careful because we do want Mardi Gras 2020 to move forward,” Dilosa said.  


2022 King Queban Levon Lee, courtesy of FION Productions

Trading a spatula for a spectra Imani Nia Ruffins, the newly anointed 2022 queen of the Krewe of TCQNO, said she is, “excited and grateful for this opportunity to be an integral part of this historic moment as the inaugural 2022 Queen.”  


Queban Levon Lee, 2022 crowned king of the Krewe of TCQNO, said, “I am excited about using my role as the 2022 King to inspire and motivate others to be healthy, holistic and happy leaders in this community.”



There are never too many cooks in The Culinary Queens of New Orleans’ kitchen. Women interested in joining can sign up at the Culinary Queen’s website,, or through the Krewe’s Facebook page, @TheCulinaryQueensofNOLA. Community members looking to get more involved can also follow Krewe of TCQNO’s brand ambassador, Dilosa, on Facebook and Instagram, @gawdmotherofnola

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