by Caroline Marcello, Special Features Editor
The Thibodaux Service League started in March of 1974 with goals to educate women in the community and to take part in charitable acts. In 1982 a group of service league members decided to put together a collection of recipes to create a cookbook. They tested hundreds of recipes to create the Louisiana Legacy Cookbook. What started out as a local project for women in the league, turned into a trip of a lifetime to New York City for five service league members.
In November of 1984 Jan Maki, Marie Falgoust, Gloria Lynch, Peggy Rouse, William Tate-Mitros, and Jeanne Chiasson boarded a plane with ten ten ice chest of food and headed to New York. This trip was a culmination of two years worth of promotional events for the cookbook. At this time the cookbook was being sold in forty states but this party introduced the book to highly regarded critics in New York.
William Tate-Mitros, an employee for the New York Times Company, offered to give a party featuring the Legacy Cookbook and the Thibodaux Service League members. The reception was held at the New York Times headquarters and featured authentic cajun cuisine. Some of the recipes included marinated crab claws, crawfish benny, and boursin.
“We were quite the site,” said Jeanne Chiasson as she looked through photos and newspaper articles from the trip. “It was an amazing trip and all the ladies had the best time.”
Now thirty-three years later, Jeanne’s daughter Stephanie Chiasson Toups is working with a whole new generation of service league members to create a new edition of the Legacy Cookbook titled Louisiana Legacy Today.
“Throughout the years we have thought about creating a new cookbook, but we knew there was no way we could do better than the original Legacy,” said Stephanie.
The women active in today’s league have decided to create a totally different kind of publication. They are working on creating a picture cookbook perfect for any southern women’s coffee table. “We hope to have a picture of every recipe as well as pictures of Thibodaux landmarks and our beautiful bayous. We hope to really highlight our culture,” said Stephanie. Craig Perk from Vacherie, Louisiana is set to take the photos that will be featured in the book.
The book will be divided into four the seasons with seasonal recipes organized accordingly. For example, the fall will feature popular tailgate items for Nicholls football games while the spring section will include crawfish recipes perfect for lent.
They are now collecting and testing recipes to see which selections will make it into the book. With the first photo shoot scheduled for June, Stephanie and the service league members are busying trying recipes from the original legacy as well as new recipes from local chefs.
“My favorite recipe so far has been our new take on crawfish benny. Instead of using ingredients like pimentos we used red bell peppers and instead of can mushrooms, we used fresh mushrooms. We put a healthier spin on the original recipe and it’s delicious,” said Stephanie.
These cookbooks have given women of the bayou region the opportunity to share traditions and our unique culture with generations. They have showcased the hard work and dedication of the Thibodaux Service League and all of their members. The hope is that Louisiana Legacy Today will be out by December of 2018. They will be available to buy on the league’s website and will make the prefect Christmas gift from any fan of the original cook book and any up and coming cajun cook.