St. Landry Parish is often called the Prairie Home Cooking Region and for good reason. We have farmers markets, butchers, and seafood markets spanning the parish, supplying local restaurants with homegrown cooking ingredients as well as fresh proteins. But what may come as a surprise to the local food traveler is the amount of food products that are produced right here in the heart of Louisiana.
One of the most famous, internationally-recognized brands of these is Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. Tony, the “Ole master” himself, forged his signature style in the Atchafalaya Swamp near Opelousas at his hunting and fishing camp on Bayou Big Alabama. It was here were he perfected the tastes that would make him an international sensation. Though the legendary chef has been departed for over two decades, his influence is still as strong as ever. The Tony Chachere’s distribution center, located in Opelousas, will be offering tours in the near future. Subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date on when their tours and gift shop will become available. In the meantime, the familiar green can of seasoning can be found in nearly any supermarket.
What began as Bellard’s Poultry in 1964 Opelousas has expanded into a family of food-based entrepreneurs that spans several restaurants and food products with a global reach. Targil’s Butcher Supplies and Seasonings CEO Ted Bellard opened the seasoning distributor over 25 years ago. Spices by the thousands of pounds arrive at the Opelousas-based warehouse. Here, they are mixed and distributed as Slap Ya Mama, J.D.’s Barbecue Seasoning and Dry Rub, and plenty of other seasoning blends on any local grocer’s shelves. At Targil, you can even bottle your own blend of seasoning. In addition to their seasonings, you can tour the center or even take cooking classes.
Tim Bellard, brother to Ted, now runs Bellard’s Poultry, as well as Zydeco Chop Chop. If you want to add more flavor to your cooking quickly, Zydeco Chop Chop is what you need. These dehydrated ingredients give you instant Louisiana cooking with the Holy Trinity of vegetables-bell peppers, onions, and celery with green onion, parsley and garlic added in for good measure.
In 2008, Tim was inspired in the kitchen to create this product for the ease of his own home cooking. But it wouldn’t be until 2014 that he would unveil his creation to the masses. Tim and Ted’s sisters, Connie Stelly and Arlene Fisher, also own a Mama’s Fried Chicken location, each thus completing the Bellard food legacy.
The Bellards are not the only family of food entrepreneurs in St. Landry Parish. Any local can tell you about Savoie’s Sausage and Food Products, founded by Ms. Eula Savoie. Their business began as a family-owned grocery store in 1949 Opelousas. The original location of the store remains their base of operations, and the smell of roasting meats fills the air surrounding the grocery turned multimillion-dollar company. Savoie’s iconic Cajun food products are available in national and local grocery chains.
From spicy to bitter, there are also, within St. Landry Parish, a couple of coffee roasters, including Prayer House Coffee, whose origins lay down an unsuspecting gravel road outside of Washington. As their business expanded, the owner, roaster, and founder Johnny Carriere, who is also the executive director of the Refinery Mission, moved the operation to Opelousas. This micro-roaster, as well as Art’s Coffee Roasters in Arnaudville, bring freshly-roasted and ground coffee to the waiting hands of caffeine aficionados throughout the parish.
Heading back to Opelousas is the bottling factory of LouAna-Ventura Foods. In business for over 120 years, this factory is located in the heart of Opelousas, bringing canola oil to kitchens across America. It’s not Louisiana cooking if something isn’t fried.
St. Landry Parish, being an agricultural community, also sees many different crops rotated along winding highways and byways, including soybeans, corn, and sugarcane. One crop, however, stands as a necessary ingredient in each of Louisiana’s iconic dishes. From étouffée to gumbo, it’s not Creole or Cajun if it doesn’t have rice. Prairie Ronde Rice, owned by Beth James, has been an independent farmer of this classic culinary crop for over 35 years. They produce Louisiana long-grain, non-gmo rice with their own quality control testing facility at their mill right outside Opelousas.
No Louisiana meal would be complete without a cold one to wash it down. To finish off this Made in St. Landry Culinary tour, we head back to Arnaudville, right across from Art’s Coffee Roasters is Bayou Teche Brewery. Here resides the region’s own craft brewery, headed by Byron Knott, the head brewer, Dorsey Knott, the taproom manager, and Karlos Knott, their president. One fateful St. Patrick’s Day in 2009 led the Knott brothers to making their own craft brewery, making use of an old rail car. This local brewery is famous for its LA 31 iconography, the name of the highway that runs past it following Bayou Fuselier. With 25 beers available in their taproom, wood-fire pizza, and a certifiable sci-fi flair, these unique craft brewers bring a certain panache to their brews not found anywhere else.
St. Landry Parish is a haven for food junkies, whether you’re cooking the meal yourself or dining at one of our many delicious restaurants. Come to the heart of Prairie Home Cooking Region for a taste of why St. Landry Parish is Gumbo For Your Soul.