Culinology - December 2015 - (Page 45)

Industry mourns loss of chef-entrepreneur Paul Prudhomme Internationally known chef Paul Prudhomme, who led Magic Seasoning Blends and K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, died October 8 at the age of 75 following a brief illness. The Louisiana native known for his seasoning blends made his mark as one of America's first celebrity chefs when he introduced the regional cuisine he grew up with to the world in the 1980's - especially Cajun specialties like andouille gumbo and jambalaya. In 1979 Chef Prudhomme opened the now-legendary restaurant K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen with his late wife Kay Hinrichs, which became a culinary mecca in New Orleans' French Quarter. His menu put a spotlight on American regional food and Cajun country cooking at a time when many restaurants specialized in French or Creole cuisine. He also popularized such new dishes as blackened redfish, his original creation and the dish that made him an instant culinary sensation. According to Paul Miller, executive chef/manager at K-Paul's, Chef Prudhomme first created homemade seasoning blends for the restaurant and for personal use, but customers began requesting samples. "Chef was a genius with taste and seasonings," Mr. Miller said. People asked so often about the seasonings that he decided to make them more widely available. The chef-entrepreneur began mixing spice blends in the back of the restaurant, bottling them and selling to diners. By 1983, he created his own line of natural herb and spice blends in a location near the restaurant, and soon moved to a larger plant. He insisted on personally tasting every batch of ingredients before purchasing, and kept a library of past blends for comparison purposes, according to Mr. Miller. Today, Magic Seasoning Blends products are made in a 130,000-sq.-ft. plant in Elmwood, La. and distributed throughout the US and 30 countries worldwide. In 1985, Chef Prudhomme set out to also manufacture traditional Louisiana-style sausages. "We used to make the sausage and tasso here, but we couldn't keep up with the demand in the restaurant, much less what people wanted to buy from us," explained Mr. Miller. "We went from 50 pounds to 5,000 pounds, so it was a learning experience for us. The key was always quality." Mr. Miller says that even though the restaurant was Chef Prudhomme's first love, his biggest passion in later years was for R&D, which he continued to work almost every day. He created all blends himself, including those requested by private companies. "That was a lot of fun for him because he was very good at it," Mr. Miller said. The youngest of 13 children in rural French-speaking Opelousas, La., Chef Prudhomme oftentimes helped his mother in the kitchen, so he learned the value of fresh and local ingredients at a young age. He developed a highly personal style of cooking that made him stand out throughout his many culinary ventures, from spice blends to cookbooks. The soft-spoken and soulful chef was admired by many for his sincere love of food and his exceptional palate, and for forging a path for culinarians-turned-product-developers. "He wanted to share with the world his great love and passion for Louisiana food," said restaurateur Ella Brennan of her long-time friend and colleague at Commander's Palace, where Chef Prudhomme served as executive chef in the 1970's before opening K-Paul's. "He really cooked with instinct and was always searching for the next, greatest flavors. He used to say, 'I want it to go 'Pow' in your mouth!' He truly was at the forefront of getting America excited about food and we give him credit for helping to put New Orleans on the map," Ms. Brennan said. DECEMBER 2015 | Culinology | 45

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Culinology - December 2015

Culinology - December 2015
Table of Contents
President's Letter - A day in the life
Emerging Trends - Hot cocoa flavor heats up
Gourmet porridge trend has ancient grain appeal
Ingredient Applications - Quality over calories
LYFE – Love Your Food Everyday
Flavor Trends - Sweet heat takes flight
Member Profile - A fresh perspective
Expert Voices - Cinnabon’s director of R&D finds room for innovation
Industry News - Mile High City hosts Future of Food Conference
Industry mourns loss of chef-entrepreneur Paul Prudhomme
Petits Fours - Tacos on the menu
Mintel identifies emerging trends for 2016
Ad Index

Culinology - December 2015