Menuism Dining Blog
Dining education for foodies

It’s a great honor to welcome our newest Menuism expert, Jay Ducote, who will be writing about the world of barbecue. Jay chronicles his culinary and indulgent cultural experiences at BiteAndBooze.com, as well as on two radio shows that he produces. Jay was the 2010 winner of Tony Chachere’s Tailgating Cookoff and has triumphed in numerous competitive eating contests. In 2011, after competing on the FOX reality show “MasterChef,” he was named one of the Top 100 Amateur Chefs in America.

What’s your approach towards food?

Food is so often tied to people’s roots, and growing up in both Louisiana and Texas certainly helped define my approach to food. I’m very grateful to my father for taking me hunting and fishing so much as a kid. That’s where I really learned to appreciate and respect where food came from and that we shouldn’t take it for granted. My Louisiana childhood presented an appreciation for Cajun cuisine and eating local foods and wild game. The Cajun method of cooking so often includes the layering of flavors to start any dish, beginning with the Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking. Growing up in Texas, I developed an appreciation for barbecue and authentic Mexican flavors. Now I like think that my approach to food is a bit of a combination between the flavors of Texas and Louisiana, which can’t be a bad thing!

How has technology shaped how you enjoy food and share your food experiences?

The role that technology has played on today’s food world is quite astounding. I started blogging about everything I ate and drank in September 2009. Quickly I learned that writing on the blog wasn’t enough. I needed photographs and video. I needed Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels. The enjoyment of food and recipes are shared online more than almost anything else. Technology has allowed anybody to develop a voice in the food world and the ability to share their experiences to anyone willing to read, listen, or watch.

What’s your favorite kind of barbecue? Why?

Barbecue is always a sensitive subject among those who know what they’re doing. The whole world is riddled with countless ways and styles to do barbecue, and none of them are wrong. Having grown up in Louisiana and Texas, my favorite kind of barbecue is a combination of different styles. I make my own Bite and Booze Louisiana BBQ Sauce that is most similar to a Kansas City-style sweet and spicy tomato-based sauce. As far as the actual meats go, I enjoy Texas-style barbecue over smoldering mesquite, or a lot of times I use Louisiana pecan wood to leave a sweet and nutty smoke flavor. Brisket, pork shoulders, ribs, and chicken are my most common barbecue fares, but I’ve also been known to smoke a whole turkey, grill an entire pig, or even cook rattlesnake over hot coals!

Describe your most awesome tailgating moment.

One year we brought our BBQ pit, dubbed “The Monstrosity,” with us to Little Rock for an LSU game against Arkansas. We constructed The Monstrosity from a full barrel aluminum keg, turned on its side with a normal half-barrel beer keg as the smoker. Since the game was played the day after Thanksgiving, we figured it would be appropriate to cook a turkey. We smoked it hanging upside down in the keg with smoke billowing out of the top all night long and as we drove into the park the next day.

On our way home, my buddy Matt and I decided to smoke a rack of ribs the entire way home from Little Rock to Baton Rouge. We started early in the morning, got a fire really hot, and put the ribs in the smoker. As we were driving home, somewhere right around Lake Providence, Louisiana, we experienced some vehicle troubles. The catalytic converter on the truck plugged up, and the exhaust wasn’t able to leave the engine. We pulled over and had to remove the converter with a hacksaw, but it was so hot that we had to let it cool down first. As we waited, we realized we had pulled over right next to a pecan grove, so we took the liberty of gathering some fallen limbs and stoked the fire in our smoker. We finally got back on the road… in a camouflage 1984 Toyota 4×4 pickup with a contraption made out of kegs that was billowing smoke off the back and straight exhaust with no muffler coming out the engine… it was quite a sight to see and hear. But for the record, when we made it to Baton Rouge and took those ribs out of the smoker, they were damn good!!!

What do wish more people knew about Louisiana?

I wish more people understood that there are differences between Cajun and Creole cuisine, and there is more to our food than just adding cayenne pepper. Also, it would be nice if people would realize than not everybody here lives in a swamp and wrestles alligators on a daily basis!

What food trends have you really excited lately?

The food truck trend is one that I really hope doesn’t go away. Food trucks give an amazing outlet to innovative, young entrepreneurial chefs that don’t have the capital to start up their own brick and mortar establishment. I’m a fan!

Are there food trends that you wish would just go away?

I’m about over gourmet cupcakes and frozen yogurt. There just can’t be a way to sustain all of the places that have popped up over the last couple years. And the real thing that I don’t like is that there seems to be no originality anymore. They are all cookie-cutter shops with no creative spirit. Get creative, and I might like you again.

What’s your favorite place to kick back and have a meal? Have a drink?

There are so many amazing places in Baton Rouge, as well as Lafayette and New Orleans for that matter. It is hard to pick one place as my favorite. In college it was The Chimes, right off of LSU’s campus. It is still one of the better “hang out, eat great food, and drink wonderful beers” kind of places. My new favorite restaurant is Beausoleil in Baton Rouge. They’ve really latched on to the local food trend and promote the farms and other suppliers that they get their food from. Plus they make some great cocktails!

What has surprised you most in your adventures as a food blogger?

I’ve been surprised from time to time with how receptive and appreciative people are about the blog that I write and everything else I do. It is a lot of fun to have a fan base and I am a little surprised that I’ve developed such a passionate fan base through the medium of food. I guess I’ll just have to keep eating, cooking, and drinking to keep them all happy!

What would you want your last meal to be? Where? With whom?

If I were truly having my last meal, I’d want to keep it pretty simple. A south Texas deer camp with a mesquite fire, my dad, and some of my closest friends and family members are all I would need. I’d cook some steaks and ribs over the open flames, and bake some sweet potatoes on the embers of the smoldering limbs. I’d probably also bring a large cast iron pot and make a seafood gumbo to go along with everything… and I’d need a few boiled crawfish too. And I’d finish the meal of with a slice of Granny’s pecan cake and a scoop of homemade salted caramel ice cream. Okay, maybe not so simple!

Editor’s Note: Help us welcome Jay in the comments!

Posted by on February 28th, 2012

Jay D. Ducote was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, grew up in Southeast Texas, and now is back in Louisiana where he makes a living eating and drinking, then writing and talking about it. He enjoys cooking a little bit too! Jay competes and judges in both Cajun cooking and professional barbecue tournaments, appeared as a contestant in Season 2 of MasterChef on FOX, hosts two radio shows in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is currently working on his first book, the "Bite and Booze Cookbook," which will be published by the LSU Press. You can find Jay on his blog, Bite and Booze, on Facebook, or Twitter. You can also contact him via email at [email protected]

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