Most folks around the country have the typical four season:Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Winter is what most folks do while waiting for spring, spring lends itself to a renewal, summer, oh the lazy days of summer, while fall signals the coming of the holidays. Well where I come from, things are a bit different. How you may ask? Well, as with most things in Louisiana, our seasons revolve around food! Let’s start with winter, or as many Louisianians call it, OYSTER SEASON, a time to imbibe on those salty delicacies that most folks just can’t get enough of…fried, grilled, stuffed, raw…need I go on? Next on the calendar, we have CRAWFISH SEASON, that time of year that Louisianians hearts go ‘aflutter! Many think this phenom is known as spring fever, nope, crawfish fever…boiled, fried, etouffee, pies…get the hint?! As the heat rises and summer sets in, we move into GULF SHRIMP SEASON…I think Bubba Gump best summed this season up, “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” Well said my friend, I’ll have one of each! Next up, as the waters stay warm, early fall is BLUE CRAB SEASON, ahh, how those white, glorious nuggets of rich deliciousness make us swoon…Oh Behave! And finally, as late fall fades into early winter, my favorite season of all, GUMBO SEASON…a time of year when all of the jewels aforementioned above can be swirled so lovingly into a cacophony of sheer culinary genius! So I impart this decree to all of you, “Break out the gumbo pot, your favorite roux spoon and let the love making begin, gumbo love making that is, after all, a brilliant pot of gumbo is a labor or love!
NOLA Kitchen Celebrates 5 Years!
Back in 2001, when I opened my first venture, Chef Du Jour, I gave up the steady pay, insurance and full time lifestyle to pursue a dream of operating my own business. Was it scary, Hell Yes! Was it hard, Oh Yea! But I had to know if the dream was more fulfilling than the dollar. And the answer is a resounding YES! I am fortunate to have a skill that can’t be outsourced, and am blessed to have been able to grow up in South Louisiana, where one of the greatest cuisines was born. The decision afforded me the chance to watch my son grow from his first days to the present, spend more time with my wife than most culinarians can only dream of, and make enough of those dollars to live a happy lifestyle. Upon our arrival in Austin, I could only think of one thing, how to get that dream back up and running…so I did it again, gave up all the “knowns” and dove back in…and haven’t looked back since. Still scary and still hard, but wouldn’t trade it for the world. Thank you to all who have helped me keep this dream alive and support what I do, for when you have a passion, sometimes that’s all you feel you know. To Lori and Jake, I only wish we could do it all over again, once wasn’t nearly enough!
Had a client (UT alum) mention to me that he went to his first LSU tailgate and was “completely blown away” by everything from the campus jamming crowd (and as he put it “LSU is a big ass place”), to the sheer enthusiasm of the participants to the amazingly diverse types of food being prepared…jambalaya, whole roasted pigs, alligator “anyway you can imagine”, gumbo, etouffee, full breakfast spreads, and the list goes on! His next comment was, “how come you aren’t out there at DKR-TX Memorial bringing the love out this way and adding some diversity to the breakfast taco/bbq status quo”,… his words, not mine…my response, “I haven’t been invited!!!” He promised he would do his best to change that, so I pass the challenge on to my Austin neighbors…spread the work far and wide that fall is in the air and Gumbo is in season, come one, come all, NOLA Kitchen wants to enlighten the UT masses with the flavors of South Louisiana, it’s good stuff y’all!
The most common question I get from my clients is, “what is the difference between Cajun and Creole?” The short answer is Cajun is more of a country style of cooking whereas Creole is more of a refined, city style of cooking. In 1755, the original inhabitants of L’Acadie, now known as Nova Scotia, were exiled by the British for not unconditionally accepting the crown. Many of these folks made their way down into the bayous of South Louisiana beginning in the year that followed. These folks, known as Acadie, were referred to as Acadians, which was soon bastardized into Cajuns. Cajun food can be considered a true indigenous cuisine as the Cajuns had to create an entire cuisine based on the ingredients at hand, granted they brought their cooking techniques, but had to make do with the unfamiliar bounty of their new home. Creole, on the other hand, was defined as “new born native to the soil”, or more specifically, applied to the “new born of French or European parents living in the West Indies, or more specifically, South Louisiana.” The cuisine is a rich cacophany of French, Spanish, Italian, Native American, African, German, Polish, British and any other ethnicity who called New Orleans home. There is more of an emphasis on wine, butter, cream and other fine ingredients that may have made their way from the formal kitchens of France and Spain, most notably. I guess, the easiest way to define the cuisine is “America’s most unique and flavorful contribution to the culinary world”…enough said!