John Folse Makes Superb Gumbo & More

6 Jan

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Every December, Chef John Folse of Gonzales, LA sends us an amazing assortment of soups, gumbos, and etoufees. This holiday season was no different and we were quite blessed for that.

This December we received some traditional Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and some incredible Crawfish Etoufee. Both dishes were perfectly seasoned and well received by our guests over the holiday season. Even the folks who were not well versed on Bayou cuisine could enjoy and appreciate the true knack John Folse has in the kitchen.

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John Folse’s food empire also includes the Bittersweet Plantation Dairy

We are honored that John is a DixieDining.com sponsor and wish him the very best of luck in the New Year. Read more about John’s unique philosophy below and order up some of his products for your next dinner party or neighborhood “fais do-do” (throwdown).   

THE FOLSE PHILOSOPHY

I was born on Cabanocey Plantation in St. James Parish, Louisiana. Although I didn’t know it at the time, just to be born there made a person part of history. I was by no means part of a great plantation family like the Romans, Cantrelles, Bringiers or Kenners. Quite the contrary, I came at a time when men were land poor. The plantations were gifts from our grandfathers and fathers before, handed down from one generation to another. In many cases, a French Creole or Antebellum mansion was considered an albatross for the family who inherited it. We certainly did not consider it part of a great legacy. My great grandfather, Victorin Zeringue, purchased Cabanocey in the early 1900s. With over 750 acres, he and his wife, Evelie Robert, thought they were destined for greatness. If anything, they were great landowners. They made a good living, and in those days that was a triumph.

Victorin and Evelie went on to have many children, one of them my grandfather, Albert. Albert married Regina Waguespack, and together they produced six more heirs to Cabanocey. One of them, my mother, Therese, married Royley Folse and eight more heirs were born. My mother, father and ancestors before were all good cooks. How could they not be, having been reared in the heart of Cajun country. This area of the United States somehow produces good cooks. There is the Gulf of Mexico with its abundance of salt water seafoods, an array of fresh-water lakes and rivers and of course, the lush, green and tropical swampland. Each of these contributes equally to the bounty that is Cajun and Creole cuisine.

As a Cajun first and a chef second, it’s important to remember that culture is the cuisine of a people. Often, young culinarians search for a base of good cooking while failing to simply look at their own culture and environment. I have come to realize that no cuisine can develop or expand where there isn’t a strong foundation of regional culture and ingredients. We are fortunate, here in Bayou Country, to have the very best gift that God has given anyone in ingredients destined for the pot. My philosophy on cooking is just as simple. Choose first the heritage of your people. Herein lies the spice and flavor of your very palate. Choose secondly the ingredients of your area. Herein lies the uniqueness of your creations.

Lastly, practice simplicity. There is an old jazz saying here in Louisiana, “mo is betta!” In the world of cooking, this is the greatest fallacy. “Simplicity is betta.” The simple flavors are the ones we long for day in and day out. Like all great artists, chefs must create a style that is recognizable. In order to stand out, you should stay true to your roots, stay true to your region and stay true to your heart and soul. But most of all remember simplicity! In the words of Edith Stern, builder of Longue Vue Gardens Plantation in New Orleans, when asked what would be served to a great statesman coming to visit her home, she replied, “The more important the guest, the simpler and more regional the dish.”

Learn more about Folse and his products at www.jfolse.com. I am truly amazed by John’s verve & versatility — the guy is into everything and his energy is obviously boundless. His reach extends to TV, Radio, a highly rated bed & breakfast, a fine dining restaurant, a smokehouse … must I continue??? Let’s just say that John Folse is a modern day Bayou renaissance man. Long may he rule as the “Gumbo King of Louisiana.”

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