“You have to. I already paid your entrance fee,” said Bob. They couldn’t have known at the time, but this would be the first step to a second career for Joey Landreneau. Based on the popularity of the jambalaya he’d always bring to potluck dinners, a friend had volunteered him for a booth at the Alachua Good Life Jubilee Festival. He sold out in an hour and a half. A few months later, Joey’s weekends were consumed with cooking classics from his southern Louisiana upbringing for festivals throughout Alachua and the surrounding counties, having fun and collecting steady additional income to boot. Word of his Creole specialties spread quickly, and the requests for catering came rolling in shortly thereafter. Just a few years later, Landreneau’s Louisiana cooking would be featured at the Black and White Gala, serving a formal dinner for 250 people at Gainesville’s largest annual charity event.
Landreneau learned to cook from his mother while growing up in Southern Louisiana, where food was an integral part of everyday life. From red beans and rice to shrimp whatever, Landreneau enjoys cooking Creole classics and busting the myth that Cajun food must be extremely spicy or full of cream. He believes a good product sells itself, a fact demonstrated by the popularity of his signature items like shrimp-stuffed bread and chicken vermillion, not to mention his fried turkeys which fly off the shelves every year around Thanksgiving. Joey takes pride in using wholesome products like Tony Chachere’s Original Cajun Seasoning with no salt or MSG and preparing Cajun food with an eye toward health. With weekly lunches for the University of Florida College of Medicine and a burgeoning partnership with local business Omi’s Kitchen, Landreneau is happy to have a full-time catering clientele. However, this doesn’t prevent him from daydreaming about the future. Down the road, he’d love to deliver his products from the setting of a Cajun market, offering both prepared items and meals customers could enjoy cooking at home.
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