Spicin’ It Up // Cajun Style

by Alondra Medrano, special sections editor

The use of spices in Cajun cooking is a staple in South Louisiana cuisine. For years, seasoning has been used on traditional red beans, gumbo, and étouffée to add a unique Bayou flare.

Cajun or Creole seasoning is made up of salt and pepper with a variety of spices like cayenne or garlic powder, says John Folse Culinary Institute graduate Kamal Jones.

“As we season or cook our meals in class, we use separate seasonings that essentially make up what many consider to be Cajun spice,” Jones says. “The blends of certain seasoning are what give our food down that special kick, I would tell you my secret blend but you’ll just have to wait to see it in stores one day.”

Cajun or Creole seasoning is made up of salt and pepper with a combination of additional spices, with cayenne and garlic powder being the most common. Local Louisiana grocery stores carry over 50 brands of Cajun spices making the flavor possibilities endless.

Louisiana-style spice blends have gained popularity, reaching grocery stores all around the country. In 2010, spices exported from Louisiana accounted for a $12 million industry, according to the World Trade Center New Orleans data. The market for these products has continued to grow over the years with the addition of new spice blends and brands.

985 Products is a new player in the spice game, releasing their Cajun All Spice and signature hot sauce this year.

“This blend is a true representation of what my family cooked with and the spices I use to this day,” says John Kerry, co-owner of 985 Products. “This is the most competitive industry, and that is why we have spent years perfecting our ideal seasoning.”

The 985 Products are named after the 985 area code that covers the 11 parishes in South Louisiana’s Bayou region. The products can be found in 13 retail locations in Louisiana and surrounding states and more being added later this year.

“It’s funny because we released our products in the 985 area after all other locations,” says Brandon Halfen, 985 Products president. “We wanted to create a buzz and then release it for people here to feel a sense of pride.”