I recently travelled to New Orleans to help coordinate a video shoot for Crossroads client Applebee’s. The shoot’s purpose was a simple one: capture the sights, sounds and tastes of New Orleans that inspired Applebee’s Executive Chef Patrick Humphrey and the rest of the culinary team when they created the Bourbon Street menu.

The webisode series debuted recently with Chef Patrick being welcomed by a local 9th generation shrimp boat captain. Later episodes will dive into additional moments of inspiration and aim to help define what makes The Big Easy one of a kind.

In addition to the filming, the trip was a personal eye opener for me. My first visit to New Orleans exposed me to its unique culture as well as portions of the city that are still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina nearly a decade later. Damaged or condemned homes and vacant lots act as a pall hanging over certain areas of the city.

Seeing the devastation reminded me of the importance of helping those in need both during and long after times of disaster. Services like those provided by the Red Cross are essential for those whose lives have been shattered by natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Sandy and the recent tornado in Hattiesburg, Miss. Please consider donating to the Red Cross what you can.

Despite the New Orleans recovery being far from complete, it was clear to all of us on the shoot that the local spirit is stronger than ever. We enjoyed amazing food and music, a beautiful city and warm hospitality on our trip.