There are two things that I’ve never “gotten used to” after leaving my native Louisiana and moving to New York City twenty years ago — the Arctic winters and missing out on crawfish season. The rocket engine sound of a propane burner blasting against the bottom of an 80-quart pot, combined with the zesty aromas of crab boil and cayenne arouse my senses, turning me into a cocodril crasseux!
As each spring came and went over my first few years in Manhattan, my bayou boil cravings really took hold. I learned about a company in Louisiana that ships live crawfish across the US through their website, and all became right in my universe. I started boiling crawfish on Manhattan rooftops and tiny backyard patios around 15 years ago. I became so good at Louisiana-style crawfish that many friends would ask me to do it for them every year. I never asked for or accepted money. I was just happy to boil, peel, and eat crawfish — especially when I had to work for it.
After awhile I learned that NYC Fuel Gas Code states that you can’t store standard backyard propane on a balcony, roof deck, backyard, or in a courtyard. So I became a scofflaw until my landlord threatened me with eviction papers. Since I could no longer host boils within the confines of the city, I needed a new way to fill that familiar void. In early 2019, I had a notion to create a fiery sauce that would taste exactly like a crawfish boil — using all the fixin’s: medium heat from cayenne and crab boil, garlic, onions, celery, citrus, red potatoes, and yellow corn — a spicy fais do-do in every dash.
After several close attempts and a few happy accidents, I finally struck gold. I called my new sauce “The Rougarou” after the mythical shape-shifting Cajun swamp creature. My early recipes started with the leftover boil stock from cooking 2 pounds of Gulf shrimp. But because I live in NYC, it cost me a small fortune to make just six bottles of sauce. I began experimenting and honing the recipe to be both delicious and economically viable. It took over 6 months to finalize a recipe that does not contain shellfish, shellfish stock, or seafood of any kind.
Upon finalizing my recipe, I renamed it “Bayou Bourré”. Bourré (boo-ray) is the Cajun word for “stuffed”. A stuffed bayou is the perfect description of my new hot sauce. It is also a nod to my hot sauce salesman grandpa, Roger Baumer (of Baumer Foods’ Crystal® Louisiana Pure Hot Sauce). He loved to gamble and play cards. He taught me to play the Cajun card game bourré when I was a kid, and he never came to our house empty-handed. There was always a box of Crystal® in one arm and a gallon bucket of ice cream in the other. He might have left empty-handed a few times after all that gambling though. I miss him very much.
Once I started sharing my homemade batches of Bayou Bourré with my friends, I knew I had something. It quickly caught fire, and I realized that I needed to share it with the world. I mean, why wait for crawfish season when crawfish season could now be every season? So like my grandfather and great uncle before me, I created a new hot sauce brand — Bayou Gotham® Hot Sauce. Born on the Bayou. Aged in Gotham.
Bayou Bourré is a first-to-market concept. It is truly a one of a kind sauce that tastes fantastic on seafood — boiled or fried — pizza, wings, sandwiches, burgers, and eggs. It’s also great for a “Bloody Marie”—my Cajun Bloody Mary recipe.
But with innovation lies resistance. I’ve become aware of a very small but vocal contingent in my home state that is repelled by my brand’s very existence. It’s unfortunate, but I get it. “A sauce that tastes like a crawfish boil made by a guy in New York City?!?” Scandalous. What they don’t realize is that you don’t get to a sauce that tastes like a bayou boil without taking the boy out of the bayou.
I created “Bayou Bourré” because I truly missed sharing my Louisiana roots due to NYC Fuel & Gas laws. The brand name Bayou Gotham® evokes a strong reaction for some, but at the end of the day it’s just hot sauce — really delicious hot sauce filled with heat ’n’ soul.
New York City is my heart. New Orleans is my soul. Bayou Gotham® Hot Sauce Brand came out of my knack for creating ways to get back to my Louisiana roots, both literally and figuratively, while demonstrating the pride I have for my adopted home of New York City. My goal is to share these sauces, and thereby cultures, by offering a small taste of what’s so far been a zest filled life.
Fais do-do (fay doh-doh) — a Cajun dance party, originating before World War II. The parties were named for the gentle command,“Go to sleep,” that young mothers offered bawling infants. She’d want the baby to go to sleep fast, cause she’s worried about her husband dancing with somebody else. “Do-do” by itself is a shortening of the French verb dormir (to sleep), used primarily in speaking to small children, as in “beddy-bye”. [Source: Wikipedia]
Cocodril crasseux (co-cah-dree CRASS-oh) — Cajun for “filthy alligator”