Local chef brings taste of Louisiana to Food Network Star

Aug 6, 2015 | By | Reply More

Jay

Jay Ducote

A decade ago, few people knew what a blog was, much less that writing a blog could change the direction of a life, but that is exactly what happened to Jay Ducote. In 2009, he began writing a blog he called “Bite and Booze,” which began as an online journal chronicling everything he ate and drank each day. Jay has always loved Louisiana cuisine, and he thought it would be a fun idea to write about the two things that influence our culture so much—food and drink. At the time, he had no idea that the blog would lead him from his chosen career path and on to a much more interesting life spent writing for magazines, hosting a radio show, and now competing on Season 11 of Network Food Star.
Jay earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science and his master’s degree in political science from Louisiana State University, and after teaching math and for two years, he began working as a grant writer for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The problem was technical writing can get boring, and Jay had a passion for cooking and writing about cooking and talking about cooking.
For Jay, passion translates to motivation and action, and he began writing food columns for magazines, starting with Town Favorites in 2010. “I’ve always loved to write,” he said. “That’s what got me through college and grad school. When I decided to start my blog, I began to really research Louisiana cuisine, and I began cooking more. Cooking and writing are both passions of mine, kind of an escape for me.”

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Jay began to expand beyond his blog, developing a following of readers through his columns in numerous magazines, and it was a natural next step to host a radio show. The Bite and Booze Radio Show, which airs on Talk 107.3 FM from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays and replays on Sundays from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., became an extension of his blog. The show features interviews with local chefs, showcases culinary events, and discusses the best cuisine Louisiana has to offer.

And while there’s much from which to choose—turtle sauce picante, shrimp creole, seafood gumbo—if you ask Jay what his favorite thing to cook is, he’s quick to tell you: “I don’t do it very often, but I love smoking barbecued ribs.”
That could explain another of Jay’s recent endeavors—barbecue sauce. While Louisiana is not known for its barbecue, Jay is out to change that with his newest creation, Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce. Using a tomato base combined with cane syrup, brown sugar, Louisiana spices, Creole mustard, Cajun hot sauce, chili powder, and an assortment of other seasonings designed to blend heat with flavor, Jay set out to prove that there’s nothing that doesn’t taste better when you throw in a little Louisiana zest.

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And he should know. Jay began cooking over open mesquite fires and progressed to grilling at tailgate parties using utensils that had been handmade by his grandfather. You won’t catch him taking the easy way out on a gas grill. He much prefers brushing his tasty sauce on meat cooked over an open flame, and obviously he’s good at what he does. In 2010, he won the Tony Chachere’s Tailgating Cook-Off with his blackberry bourbon bone-in Boston butt. The next year, Jay was named on of the Top 100 Amateur Chefs in America. Within two years of starting his blog, Jay was making a name for himself through his talent for cooking and through writing about food.
Television was the next logical step. Since 2011, Jay has enjoyed numerous television appearances including spots on HBO’s Tremé, the Outdoors Channel and the Pursuit Channel, among others. Currently, he is a contestant on Food Network Star, one of only 12 professional chefs selected to compete from across the country.
“I went to a casting call in New Orleans for Season 10 and made it pretty far in the selection process,” Jay said, “but ultimately I wasn’t chosen. They called me back for Season 11 and cast me for the show. It’s definitely an honor to compete in such a high-caliber, professional competition. It’s an intense and challenging process, but I’m better prepared this year. It’s a privilege to represent Baton Rouge and Louisiana, and I’m putting my best foot forward.”
While Jay is a man who wears many different hats, he says he particularly enjoys television—not just being on camera, but the whole behind-the-scenes process, as well. “My ultimate goal is to have my own show on the Food Network. That would be the pinnacle for me,” he said. “I want to be an overall food personality.”
While he’s well on his way to achieving that goal, Jay says that between writing, his website, the radio show, and television, he doesn’t have as much time as he once did to do what started it all—cooking. “I do mostly cooking events and private events now,” he said. “I don’t have much time to cook at home anymore.” An average day consists of going to meetings, working in his office, creating his second round of barbecue sauce, doing interviews, choosing guests for his radio show and doing the necessary research to make each show interesting, and writing his blog. “I don’t thrive on routine,” he explained. “I want something different every day.”
There is one consistency in his life, though. Jay loves to hug, and not those barely touching hugs. He’s a self-described teddy bear of a man who likes to give good up-close-and-personal hugs to most everyone he meets. “There’s a science to it,” he said. “It’s so much better than a handshake.”
In just a few years, Jay has made a name for himself in a field that is notoriously competitive. His inspiration for going all out to be successful is his mother, Phyllis, from whom he inherited most of his personality traits. “She’s been a wonderful influence,” he said. “She’s outgoing, passionate, a caretaker, a teacher, very creative, and a bit of an entrepreneur.”
As for advice for other up-and-coming chefs, Jay says it is important to work on communication skills, be willing to put in the hard work, be ambitious, and most importantly, be eager to learn everything you can.
Food Network Star airs on Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. For more information on Jay’s progress, please visit www.foodnetwork.com. For more information about Jay and to keep up with his blog, please visit www.biteandbooze.com.

Category: Featured Favorites, Uncategorized

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