Food is something we know we do well in Louisiana.
We’re renowned the world over for our Cajun and Creole cuisines, our seafood industry, and the many restaurants and famous chefs we have produced. But Louisiana also has a thriving culture for food entrepreneurs. People may bemoan that our tech or manufacturing sectors lag those of Texas or Silicon Valley, but they cannot quibble with the fact that food-based businesses in Louisiana are a slam dunk!
Somebody who’s seen more food entrepreneurial slam-dunks than anyone in the state is Gaye Sandoz.
Gaye is Director of Foodii, the LSU Ag Center’s Food Innovation Institute. It’s a business incubator that specifically helps food entrepreneurs develop, test, produce, package and brand that delicious salsa or healthy protein bars or to die for cookies they’ve made for years to the rave reviews of their family and friends.
In the 10 years she has been at the helm of the incubator, Gaye has helped launch literally dozens of food businesses. She has also developed several successful products of her own, including the Clever Kitchen Microwave Barbecue Chicken Roasters, of which she has sold more than 60-thousand on shopping channel QVC.
Gaye first began working in the industry Edible Enterprises in Norco and started her own company, Sandoz Marketing Specialists, to offer consulting services in marketing and food product development.
Alvin Tanner is a recent beneficiary of Gaye’s expertise. Alvin is owner of Alvin Ray’s Bayou Best Pickles, a food start up based in Gonzales that makes a variety of jarred pickles, the signature of which is a sweet, crisp tangy pickle that Alvin describes as a cross between a dill and a bread-and-butter.
Alvin launched the company in 2014, when he started making the first of what would become three versions of his signature pickles. In the years since, he has grown his sales and distribution network, and today his pickles can be found in more than 400 supermarkets in six states, as well as in several local and regional restaurants.
Bayou Best Pickles have also proven incredible popular on the rodeo circuit! (Who even knew there was a rodeo circuit in south Louisiana?)
As the name on the label suggests, Alvin is from “down the bayou” and has been experimenting in the kitchen since he was a kid. He gave up his day job as a welder to work on Alvin Ray’s Bayou’s Best Pickles full time, and as he says in his inimitable Bayou Cadence, “I can’t stop.”
Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. Photos by Erik Otts.