Ducote’s journey in culinary arts and media


Courtesy of Jay Ducote

The Hammond Regional Arts Center featured the culinary arts of Chef Jay Ducote of Gov’t Taco on July 9. Ducote made his place in the culinary media world with his blog “Bite and Booze” and by appearing on culinary shows such as “Food Network Star” and “MasterChef.”

Jennifer Dettwiller, Staff Reporter

Chef Jay Ducote of Gov’t Taco began his path of becoming a chef in an unusual way. 

Ducote had a string of unrelated jobs, first as a high school math teacher and baseball coach. Then, he went to work for the Louisiana government doing grant writing and policy research. He went to college for economic and political science earning a master’s degree in political science. He is now a restaurant owner and a well-known chef.

Ducote explained how his last job led to his current occupation. 

“I was just kind of bored sitting at a computer all day and just wanted some kind of creative outlet,” said Ducote. “Food is what I turned to.”

While he was looking at food as an outlet, Louisiana State University tailgates is where his journey to become a chef began.

“I really got into food, as in cooking, by throwing tailgate parties for LSU football,” said Ducote. “That was my introduction into cooking and a crash course in Louisiana food and grilling and outdoor cooking and outdoor frying and big cast-iron pots of gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and things like that.”

As Ducote continued his path to becoming a culinary success, he started a blog named “Bite and Booze.”

“I got professionally into food, even though at the time it was really just a hobby, through writing a blog,” said Ducote. “I started doing a lot of food writing and then started cooking more, posting recipes and things like that and got into competitive barbecue and things along those lines. Still, I never thought that a chef was what I wanted to be.”

The growing blog helped put Ducote on the map, which is how Executive Director of the Hammond Regional Arts Center Maureen Joyce learned about him as a chef.

“I knew him personally from when I owned a restaurant in Baton Rouge,” said Joyce. “He was a regular at my restaurant, and before, he was on the Food Network and almost became the ‘Next Food Network Star.’ He was a regular food blogger, and in Baton Rouge, he appears regularly on a radio show called ‘Bite and Booze.’”

 With “Bite and Booze,” Ducote also created his own product line but did not refer to himself as a chef at that point. His product line includes items such as Louisiana barbecue sauce, molasses mustard, barbecue rub, wine and coffee.

“Before I would have ever called myself a chef or moved forward in the chef world, I had a product line out and all sorts of stuff in the culinary media world,” said Ducote. “And then, it just all continued to grow. As far as being a chef goes, through other TV opportunities, Food Network stuff, and building a name for myself with the food and the chef stuff just follows that.”

With his brand and name continuing to grow, Ducote figured out what his next steps into the culinary arts would be.

“‘Food Network Star’ just made a whole lot of sense to me,” said Ducote. “I did season two of ‘MasterChef’ in 2011 but didn’t get very far and took that failure and turned it into an opportunity to dedicate myself to it. I knew if I really wanted to be successful in that world, I needed to learn a lot more and get a lot more experience and practice and put myself into that world a whole lot more.”

Ducote explained why he felt “Food Network Star” was his next step.

 “As far as TV shows go, looking at ‘Food Network Star’ for that kind of cross between cooking and culinary media talent, it was on my radar as the show that I would love to do if I had the opportunity,” said Ducote. 

Ducote was a chef in season 11 of “Food Network Star” after going through many interviews and submitting applications.

Joyce recalled how she learned Ducote was on the show.

“I don’t have cable, so I didn’t actually get to see him until he came into my restaurant and said, ‘Hey, Maureen I might be the next ‘Food Network Star,’” said Joyce. “And I was like, ‘What? That’s amazing,’ and then I watched him, and I thought he was going to win because he was so charming and real and doing such a great job.”

Joyce described Ducote’s cooking style as, “Passionate, fun-loving and full of flavor.”

Ducote was featured as a chef for the night at the Hammond Regional Arts Center on July 9 for the “Culinary Arts Series.”