The petro-chem sector may be Louisiana’s largest industry in dollar terms, but food is no doubt number one in the mindset of the collective culture. Louisiana is blessed with so many regional cuisines, restaurants and food entrepreneurs. On this edition of Out to Lunch Baton Rouge two colorful, local food entrepreneurs share their unique journeys, including how COVID has impacted the way they do business.
Spuddy Faucheaux is owner and chef of Spuddy’s Cajun Cooking, a local business based on the River Road in Vacherie that specializes in Cajun smoked meats. For more than 25 years, Spuddy’s was a small restaurant too, beloved by locals. But that all changed in December 2018, when a crane on a passing barge hit the bridge over the Mississippi near Spuddy’s restaurant, changing traffic patterns, rendering the restaurant unprofitable and forcing Spuddy to lay off half of his employees.
So Spuddy reinvented his business. In September 2019 Spuddy launched the Cajun Cooking Experience, which invites visitors into the kitchen to learn about how Spuddy works his magic. The venture took off and was an immediate success. And then Covid hit.
Now Spuddy is forced to tweak his business yet again.
Mansurs on the Boulevard
Chef Chris Motto is an old friend of Out to Lunch. Motto, as everybody calls him, is the Chef at Mansur’s on the Boulevard, which is where Out to Lunch recorded every week until the pandemic. Motto has been the award-winning chef at Mansur’s since 2009 and has been one of the leaders of Baton Rouge’s restaurant community.
A native of Denham Springs, Motto has also proven he believes in Baton Rouge and in doing everything he can to make it better. You may remember – back before the pandemic – in early 2019, Motto was a finalist on FOX’s reality cooking competition Hell’s Kitchen. In line to win the whole thing and become a head chef at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, Motto backed out and walked off the show just one week before the final. He said he did it because, “I want to raise the culinary standards in Baton Rouge. That’s what I’ve been working on the last five years. I’m not ready to give up on that.”
Since then, Motto has had his own Hell’s kitchen to deal with – running a restaurant amid a pandemic.
Photos by Jill Lafleur. Check out another local legendary food entrepreneur who dropped by for lunch with Stephanie: Ted Kergan, owner of most of the Sonic outlets in the state.