It's Acadiana: Out to Lunch

ItsAcadiana.com

OUT TO LUNCH Business over lunch. Each week Christiaan invites guests from Acadiana's business community to join him. Beyond the foundations of the Acadiana economy - oil, cuisine, music - there is a vast network of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and even some of the country's largest companies who call Acadiana home. Out to Lunch is the cafeteria of the wider Acadiana business community. You can also hear the show on KRVS 88.7FM.

All Episodes

If you were born in or after 1984 you haven’t lived in a world without the Karate Kid. Before that date, Karate wasn’t always a fixture of youth activity in U.S. But, believe it or not, it was in Crowley, Louisiana! Way back in the 1970's, thanks to Acadiana Karate. Today, Stacey Knight Mejia and her husband Pablo run the dojo at a space in Lafayette. Pablo originally took over the business in 1978 and expanded it from its home in Crowley. Today, Acadiana Karate offers instruction in mixed martial arts with methods based in a variety of disciplines: Judo, Tai Kwan Do, Jujitsu, Akido, Kung Fu and American Shotokan.  Besides the local shift from Crowley to Lafayette, one nationwide change over the last two decades is the number of women training and competing in martial arts. Today, around 30 or 40% of Stacey’s students are women and girls.  Stacey is a lawyer by training, but left the legal profession to make a career out of karate. Speaking of gender gaps, there’s been much written about representation in the world of art. A recent data analysis of 18 U.S. art museums found that 87% of their collections are men. There’s been important progress, however, in leadership roles. In 2005, around 30% of museum directors were women. Today it’s 47%.  LouAnne Greenwald figures into the number. She directs the Hilliard University Art Museum, and has worked to connect the museum and UL with the rest of the community.  Since taking over in 2014, she’s established educational programs, increased staff and rolled out free Wednesday programs that help open the museum’s doors.  LouAnne has a long history in arts, collections and fundraising, working as consultant in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, where she also cut her teeth as curator and educator for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.  Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Astor Morgan at our website. And check out more lunchtime conversation about Acadian martial arts.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 30

31 min 15 sec

What’s the future of the Louisiana worker? What a loaded question. Sometimes we get so caught up asking about the future that we forget that it’s already here.  Chew on this: in 2020, mining for oil & gas accounted for around 1% of Louisiana’s GDP. That’s down from around 10% a decade ago.  Louisiana has been in a pivot for a long time. And while we often talk about this change in terms of economic output, the real question is what happens to our workforce?  Don’t count out innovation and manufacturing.   Missy Rogers and her husband Scott founded Noble Plastics, which manufactures all kinds of custom, plastic molded products for a range of industries. Visit their facility in Grand Coteau and you’ll find robots whirring and a few dozen highly specialized employees. Noble’s edge is taking both design and manufacturing in-house. They don’t just make things, they make the things that make things. A part of the company’s line is designing robotic machines and processes for other manufacturers. Here’s a blue ocean strategy for Louisiana: digital wallets. Louisiana is a pioneer in allowing residents to digitize their IDs and drivers licenses. Today, more than 1 million people use LA Digital Wallet, and during the pandemic around half a million people opted into a feature that allows you to digitize your vaccine card. Calvin Fabre is the man behind that innovation with his company Envoc. Digital credentialing is a pretty big space. Outside of state IDs, Envoc has developed a line of commercial verification and logistics apps for cargo shipping, inspection services and grading bubble sheet tests. LA Wallet itself is a growing service, and Calvin is actively pursuing Louisiana grads to staff it up. Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Astor Morgan at our website. Check out Calvin Fabre's last visit to Out to Lunch here  when he was just launching LA Wallet. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 16

29 min

Imagine Acadiana without festivals. Between 2020 and 2021, we nearly got a taste of that reality. And for the most part it wasn’t pleasant.  Gathering is a big part of the culture here. So when Covid made getting together dangerous, it also threatened a way of life.  Festivals did what they could to keep the tradition alive. Going virtual was a workable substitute in a pinch, but the lift was still costly and the digital copy just couldn’t compare with the real thing.  Christiaan's guests today navigated Acadiana’s largest annual gatherings through two straight years of pivots.  Scott Feehan has been Executive Director of Festival International since 2015. Scott’s day job is in IT, but he’s been a cultural entrepreneur going on two decades now. If you grew up playing in rock and roll bands in Acadiana you might know Scott as the drum shop guy. Or as the man behind Lafayette’s School of Rock.  Pat Mould runs programming and development for Festivals Acadians et Creoles. He’s the man in charge of what happens at the festival and, crucially, who pays for it. Pat is a renowned chef who’s made a big mark in bringing Cajun cuisine into fine dining, and he’s also the interim general manager of KRVS, the voice of Cajun and Zydeco music and the home of Out to Lunch Acadiana. Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Astor Morgan at our website. And check out Scott Feehan's take on the festival scene from inside the Covid bubble. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 9

28 min 20 sec

When I work in a coffee shop, I don’t get much done. Honestly, I didn’t go to the coffee shop to work. That’s just a little white lie I tell myself to get out of the house.  Coffee shops might be the easiest place to track down if you travel for work. You know there’s wifi, but the environment can be unpredictable. Is the cappuccino machine too loud? Too bad. Well, what if you could plug into a space meant for work. Not easy to do unless you know somebody in town. You’ve heard of co-working spaces like WeWork, but that’s still a commitment. When you travel a lot you need something for 20 minutes, an hour, half a day and you’re gone.  Clerc Bertrand has a solution for that. Workaroo: a network of office space for those of us hopping from place to place. Workaroo uses an app to connect itinerant workers with office space. Clerc lives in the Lake Charles area, but has grown Workaroo on the go herself, dodging lockdowns and hurricanes. Today, Workaroo has spaces in Lake Charles, Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Clerc plans to grow the company to stretch the I-10 corridor. When she’s not building workaroo, Clerc runs the McNeese State University Athletic Foundation. If your workspace is the great outdoors, maybe this isn’t so much a problem for you. Anywhere is the place to be. Artist and muralist Hannah Gumbo is building a career for herself with the world outside as her canvas. An avid traveler herself, Hannah is passionate about Louisiana and creating vibrant spaces that tease out our traditions with abstract flourishes and surprising detail.  You can find Hannah's work on Downtown brick walls or barns scattered around Acadiana, and her work bubbles against the backdrop of our region’s rustic colors. She got her start with an ArtSpark grant from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and recently won a second one to expand her work to business portraits. Hannah will also shake up the stuffy headshot with a portable wooden booth packed with fun backdrops to make portraits of Louisiana business owners. Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos + Amigos in Downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Astor Morgan at our website. Here's more lunchtime conversation about other work options in which one of Lafayette's most successful college dropouts talks with the dean of the UL grad school. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 19

28 min

For a couple of years, I’d say the most common investigation request I’d get was "Why doesn’t Lafayette recycle glass?" The natural follow-up, of course, is... "What happens to it?" Well...for most of the glass you use - it ends up in a landfill. Even the stuff you thought you were recycling all those years ago. And here’s a disturbing fact: Glass takes one million years to degrade in a landfill. Think carefully before you toss that High Life bottle in the trash can.  There is another option. Not recycling: upcycling. What’s the difference? Finding a new and improved use for your rubbish. Glass makes great mulch. It keeps the weeds, mold and mildew at bay. It doesn’t have to be changed out too much. And it’s lovely. It’ll make your garden glimmer.  How do you make glass mulch? Tina Crapsi of Backyard Sapphire does it with a glass crusher she built herself. The “annihilator” can turn a case of beer into a pound of mulch in 15 seconds. Backyard Sapphire processes the glass and turns it into custom blends of colorful mulch. The service went viral quickly, and Tina and her partner Dawn signed up a few dozen subscription customers for curbside pickup and have begun working with local businesses, too. Bit by bit, Backyard Sapphire’s grassroots approach is keeping tons of glass out of local landfills. So we’re trying to clean up the ground, what about the air we breathe? Carbon emissions aren’t the only toxin affecting our respiratory health. In Louisiana, we’re in a constant battle with mold.  Mold grows fast. It’ll spread with just 60% humidity in the air. Now imagine what happens after a hurricane? A home exposed to water can be overwhelmed with mold within hours.  We’ve actually managed to make this problem worse in the modern era. Drywall and synthetic glues have made building homes cheaper, but they’ve also created breeding grounds for mold. Just a little bit of water can create serious problems.  That means mold remediation is essential business in our neck of the swamp, but it’s actually not that common. Nicole Guillory Wenger and her husband founded DryMax in 2010 to respond to that gap. Nicole previously worked in architecture and did restoration work in post-Katrina New Orleans. DryMax has since come to specialize in remediation, working a range of projects from post-disaster clean up to remediating historic buildings. In Louisiana, there’s no shortage of work in the mold business. And Nicole spends a lot of her time teaching customers about what to look for in a quality mold contractor, even if she can’t take their work. Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos + Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can find photos from this show by Astor Morgan at our website. And here's more lunchtime conversation you might like, about the connection between recycling and art.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 12

28 min 20 sec

Swamps and the French language put up barriers to globalization in Acadiana for generations. At least that’s the conventional narrative. Even within our own community, we often underestimate just how wide the cultural landscape is in South Louisiana and has always been.  Barriers persist. But there are lots of creative, thoughtful people chiseling away at them and mining for a common heritage.  It’s not limited to art and cultural anthropology. Lafayette has explored international touchstones for decades through big events like Festival International and the Latin Music Festival.  Cristina Martinez is in the business of expanding those horizons. She’s been an event planner in Lafayette for six years, managing projects big and small for Party Central and has hosted the Latin Music Festival herself. She’s also a media personality, moonlighting as the host of After Hours with Cristina Martinez, a Facebook Live show about sex, sexuality and sexual health.  During the pandemic, Cristina stepped up as a daily reporter for El Sabor/Telemundo, translating press conferences and Covid information for Acadiana’s rapidly growing Hispanic community. Cristina was born in Puerto Rico and has lived in Lafayette since 2008. What does it mean to be from somewhere anyway? Home is an idea  Olivia Perillo has explored in documentaries and photography. Since childhood, she’s been enamored of the connection between Acadiana’s swamps and the deserts of West Texas, where she spent time on trips to visit her mother’s family.  Olivia and her creative partner have produced two documentaries over the last couple of years. Migration, which profiled women leaving their birthplaces in search of new homes. And Intention which profiled the diversity of Louisiana cultural traditions among women. Olivia’s work on Intention was funded by a Create Louisiana grant, and her films have been screened internationally. She also works as an archivist for artist Lynda Frese and a photographer for Country Roads magazine.  Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Astor Morgan at our website. Also at our website you can find hours and hours of conversation about Acadiana's culture and its relation to our community and economy. Here's an episode about film and zydeco.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 5

29 min 45 sec

E-commerce is about speed. But not just for the customer, for the seller, too. The name of the game is striking while the iron’s hot. Get your product to the top of the search ranking on Google and you can move units, fast. Once a cat meme goes pandemic, it pays to be the seller who can deliver the hype on a mug or a t-shirt.  The hard part is the logistics. Inventory takes investment and risk. What are you gonna do with all those cat mugs when the trend dies?  Lafayette native Josh Goree’s company, Completeful, makes that problem go away. Instead of stocking all the inventory in your house, waiting for the internet to do its thing, Completeful stocks and fulfills your orders on demand. Based in Lafayette, Completeful has grown fast since Josh launched it in his garage, engraving custom wedding gifts in 2017. Today, Completeful ships tens of thousands of custom products each day for sellers on Etsy and Shopify, enabling scores of micro-shops around the internet with an integrated app.  If the quick buck is your thing, then maybe graduate school isn’t for you. Going deeper into higher education is a way to bury yourself deep into a professional or academic pursuit. Believe it or not, it’s still a marketplace. Working your way through academia means finding a niche and selling yourself and expertise to your future peers and mentors. It can be highly, highly competitive, and very, very specialized. And the graduate schools are competing for you too.  In 2019, U.S. graduate schools conferred 1 million degrees, an increase of 20% from a decade earlier. And despite a decline in postsecondary enrollment overall, graduate and professional programs have actually increased enrollment over the last 10 years by 8%, according to the U.S. Census.  UL Lafayette’s graduate school is a top producer of research. "How well do radishes grow in space?" "How does folklore impact the way our kids think and see the world?" Folks at UL are working on answers to those timeless questions.  As the Dean of UL’s graduate school, Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser has a front row seat to that work. Mary has helmed the graduate school since 2015, and has taught history at UL since 2000. A native of Kansas, she charted a successful career for herself by seizing the opportunities in front of her. Some great advice for anyone entering the workforce.  Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can find photos from this show at our website. And here's more lunchtime conversation with Acadiana locals building unique businesses - Karen Thibodeaux and Jezebel Lobelia. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 21

29 min 31 sec

If you don’t know or care much about wine, then the language around it can sound like Greek. Or French, perhaps, is more accurate. "Terroir," "appellation," "cuvee." It can all be overwhelming. Go to a restaurant, order a bottle. Which wine do you like? Red or white? For a lot of us, that’s as far as goes.  Acadiana feels like Michelob Ultra country. People here drink light beers so they can drink a lot of beers. So maybe wine and wine culture would seem foreign to us...despite the French undertones of our lifestyle.  Maybe try thinking of wine this way: As an expression of place. That’s what "terroir" means: the earth, the air, the water that made the wine. We talk about food this way in Louisiana all the time. You could argue that gumbos and boudins have terroir. But you’d probably be thrown out of the party. Christiaan's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana, Acadiana's First Couple of Cool, Denny and Katie Culbert, are trying to tap into that obsession with place with their boutique, natural wine shop: Wild Child Wines.  Wild Child opened in 2020 in Downtown Lafayette and has since grown a cult following with its select imports of small batch wines from around the globe. The shop has a small wine bar for tasting and teaching. Those have been consistent themes for the Culberts, who have spent the better part of the last decade building culture around local foodways with initiatives like Runaway Dish, a series of popup dinners that introduced adventure to Lafayette’s culinary scene.  Outside of Wine Child, Denny is a photographer with credits in Saveur, Garden & Gun and Vice magazines.  Katie owns and operates the boutique clothing shop Kiki and its two locations in Lafayette and Baton Rouge.  This edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana was recorded in the studios of KRVS in Lafayette. You can see photos from this show at our website. And here's more lunchtime conversation about local Acadiana booze, namely vodka made from rice.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 14

28 min 54 sec

Having a green thumb is a good way to earn a living. Agriculture was the first big business. It created the marketplace and civilization itself.  Of course, going green has an entirely new meaning these days. And I’m not talking about the green new deal. I’m talking about cannabis.  The medicinal properties of marijuana have been known for ages. And believe it or not, Louisiana was one of the first states to recognize that, passing legalization laws decades ago that sat frozen on the books.  But over the last couple of years, legislation opened up the cannabis and CBD market in the state, albeit with a tight regulatory grip.  Crystal Grayson and her husband Matt, an horticulturalist, seized on the new opportunity in 2020, launching Zorillo. Zorillo isn’t a CBD shop, though you can buy Zorillo products. It’s more like a co-op. Crystal and Matt seed, grow and process their own cannabinoid products and they help other farmers do it too. Crystal and Matt’s farm is in Broussard, and Zorrillo is under the umbrella of the company Grass Masters, which also includes Matt’s lawn care and landscaping business. Crystal also works as an escrow officer for a title company. When you think green you might also think of the emerald isle. Tony Davoren, hails from Ireland but settled in Louisiana with his wife Sheila. Tony is also in the landscaping business with his company Irish Guy Landscaping, but you might also know him through his work in the traditional music scene. Tony is passionate about the crossroads of Celtic and Acadian culture. He is the creator and director of the Celtic Bayou Festival and also runs an Irish Dance Summer Camp with his wife. Tony and Shelia met while touring the U.S. as part of Riverdance and now they live in Sunset where Tony has been perfecting his recipe for smoked sausage. You can find photos from this show at our website. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 7

27 min 22 sec

So much attention in business news is tech, and I don’t just mean Big Tech. The word “innovation” is thrown around a lot when really what we’re talking about are gadgets...not ideas.  But innovation in business is often about what you do, not what you use. Processes, procedures, protocols and work culture — these can all be major innovations in a successful business model, and none of them require a degree in computer science or a garage in Palo Alto to develop.  Entrepreneurs have been making money trying to optimize other businesses long before there were CRMs. It’s a big part of helping companies grow and become more profitable. Jeff Resweber and his company An Extraordinary Mind do just that. Jeff helps companies big and small reinvent their processes - the under-the-hood wiring that can get tangled and gunky and slow growing companies down.  Jeff and his team embed with their clients, figuring out ways to make the less glamorous parts of their business run smoothly so the engine can hum. An Extraordinary Mind has worked with companies in a dizzying array of industries - finance, IT, education and energy. That’s why they call him the “instant expert.” Running a good company isn’t just about making it more efficient. If you want to run a good company, do what you do well, but also...do some good. An important place to start is protecting your people.  For almost three decades, Ray Flores’ company Industrial Safety Solutions has helped companies make their workers and their work safer but, again, not by developing new gadgets, but by using the principles of behavioral psychology.  ISS helps companies create cultures of safety in their workforces, primarily serving the oil and gas industries. In 2020, ISS spun up a new division that helps companies roll out safety plans to address the threat of Covid. The new line built on years of hurricane recovery work and has become an important revenue line as the energy industry in Louisiana continues to decline.  Ray is passionate about community outreach and has recently connected with the nonprofit of Love of People as a vehicle to help him repair an old church that he credits with a piece of divine providence in his career. Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can find photos from this show by Nathan Davis at our website. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 3

28 min 40 sec

The ocean can be terrifying. The horizon doesn’t end. It’s vast and unknown, like staring into space only it’s lapping at your feet. But in business, the ocean is a both an apt symbol for opportunity — think "the blue ocean strategy" for marketing and innovation — and a great place to make a living.  Louisiana has certainly done that for decades with offshore drilling, shipping and seafood. Civilization itself has made use of the ocean for commerce for millennia. Water  Our long relationship with the ocean has involved mostly, in one manner or another, sailing across it. There’s still plenty of stuff to figure out about working in deep sea environments. Christiaan's guest on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana, Erick Knezek, and his company, Oceanetics, specialize in developing cutting edge engineering solutions for ocean-going enterprises, including the world’s largest — the U.S. Navy.  Oceanetics is based in Annapolis, Maryland, home of the U.S. Naval Academy — Erick’s alma mater — but Erick is based right here in Lafayette. Oceanetics does a lot of defense contracting work, including research and development for both the private and public sector, and also specializes in developing renewable ocean-based energy.   Blood Blood might be thicker than water, but unlike water, it’s not a renewable resource. The business of collecting blood is an old one, and it’s done primarily for serving the medical community. The work is important. Science has yet to develop a suitable substitute for it, and hospitals need it on high demand.  The nation’s largest independent nonprofit blood services provider is Vitalant, which you might know by its previous brand name: United Blood Services. Vitalant was founded in 1943 in Phoenix, Arizona and has grown to a network of 120 donation centers across the U.S. Vitalant operates here in Lafayette and serves 23 hospitals in 21 parishes.  Stephanie Kizziar is Vitalant’s Communications Director, and reports that just 3% of Louisiana’s eligible blood donor population are active donors. That means demand outstrips supply significantly, with local hospitals requiring at least 250 donations each day. Stephanie got her degree in mass communications from LSU in 2008 and previously worked in marketing. She’s been on the Vitalant team since October of 2020. Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show at our website. You might also enjoy this previous Out to Lunch Acadiana episode about the marijuana business, for no other reason than, hey, who doesn't like hearing about the magical properties of weed? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 20

30 min 40 sec

What’s not to love about a doughnut? They’re fried, fatty, crispy, doughy and sweet. You can dip them in chocolate, stuff them with Bavarian cream and roll them in sprinkles. They come vegan, gluten free or covered with bacon crumbles. You can slice them half and use them as a hamburger bun. Anything that good has to be sold by the dozen. And it should be easy to do, right?  Not so much.The doughnut business is cutthroat. It’s a crowded market out there and one dominated by customer loyalty. Plus, the hours are terrible.  Why get into the business? Drake Pothier says because it makes people really happy. The chance to make someone’s day better is a great reason to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning.   Drake owns Village Deaux in Maurice. He and his wife bought the shop in 2019, looking to diversify their income and find something new to sink their teeth into. They navigated the pandemic shut down and came out the other side with a doughnut shop that folks are driving to from all over Lafayette Parish. Which is saying a lot with all the good doughnut spots here. Before running Village Deaux, Drake worked in communications and ran a successful insurance agency, which he sold in 2021.  So everyone loves a doughnut, but not everyone likes politics. And that’s what Marie Centanni sells: ideas. Marie is a political consultant, running her shop Centanni Communications since 2009.  Marie is a vet of the political scene. And her specialty is communicating public policy. That means taking a wonkish piece of legislation, dipping it in chocolate, stuffing it with bavarian cream and selling it to voters. Cynics may not like it so much, but it’s how the policy gets made. And I’m sure Marie has to get up plenty early in the morning to do it.  During the 2021 Legislative session, Marie played a big role in communicating the push for tax reform, a process which took steering several pieces of legislation through a toxic political climate. Marie is a former broadcast journalist, worked as a staffer on Capitol Hill and served as press secretary to former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. She’s advised over 250 candidates through the Candidate Training Bootcamp at the Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute, the nonprofit arm of her top client the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. Whether it's donut or doughnut, Democrat or Republican, Christiaan Mader has you covered on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Nathan Davis at our website. This is our first Out to Lunch show about doughnuts but you can hear more lunch table conversation about Acadiana pies here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 13

28 min 40 sec

I’m of the opinion that everyone can use an editor. It’s useful to have someone to bounce an idea off of and whittle it down to the sharpest point.  Working with an editor can be kind of intense. It’s like therapy or professional coaching. You work through bad habits and confront flaws you didn’t know you had.  This is starting to sound a bit like therapy. And maybe that’s a good thing. These days, folks are much more open about getting help. That used to be a taboo. Not so much anymore.  And I don’t just mean “getting help” in the traditional sense, as in tackling stress or some other mental health problem. People are turning more and more to counseling for all kinds of things.  How about work? Take it from me, running a small business is emotionally consuming. You get attached to your ideas and lose sight of the big vision. Change can be hard to swallow or even conceive. Sometimes, the biggest hurdle in professional development is ego.  Business coach Jeff Martin helps his clients get over the hump to entrepreneurial maturity. He specializes in counseling mid-career professionals on how to find another gear in their growth, usually by taking a deep look at their work and helping business owners figure out what to focus on. Before starting his coaching business, the Company Growth Academy, Jeff was a serial entrepreneur himself. He knows what it’s like to get attached. Jeff is an Out to Lunch veteran for his custom men’s clothing line —  Short and Fat.  Now let’s talk about counseling in the more conventional sense. About 20% of Americans sought mental health counseling in 2019. But the practice of counseling in a social environment expands beyond mental health disorders. Major life events can be difficult to navigate and our understanding of how stress works has changed dramatically. That’s why Marie Collins says her counseling center, the Acadiana Family Tree, adapts its services to pressing community needs. Marie is Family Tree’s executive director and a licensed counselor herself. The Family Tree started as a parenting resource center and has grown to offer a broad canopy of services: marriage counseling, anger management, trauma and addiction counseling.  In the words of the inimitable Bill Withers, whether it's professional advice or personal  counselling, "We all need somebody to lean on."  This conversation was recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Lucius Fontenot at our website. And here's more lunchtime conversation about counseling alternatives in Acadiana.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 22

29 min

Acadiana is kind of a hidden treasure. Most folks think of New Orleans when Louisiana comes up, but the nooks and crannies of the state are what make it special.  Hop on a rural byway and you can wind through all kinds of magical places. It’s a state you can stay-cation in and find lots of oddities and specialties. Pockets of cultures and traditions that are unseen even by folks just a few miles away.  Take Highway 90 north from Lafayette and the roads will rise and fall on hills. You’ll pass through the Cajun prairies and catch a view of the land of Zydeco. Before long, you’ve left Francophone Louisiana behind altogether.  Did you know there’s a Transylvania, Louisiana? Have you ever been to the Watermark Tavern by the river in Columbia, just north of Alexandria?  Dixie Poche has, and she’s lived to write about it. Dixie is a travel writer with an expertise in Louisiana’s hidden gems. For thirty years, she sharpened her pencil in technical writing and corporate communications in the oil and gas industry. Her childhood in a general store in Cecilia inspired her to seek out the histories of Louisiana’s small towns. She’s published three books on Louisiana culture and is currently working on her fourth — about small town Mardi Gras Courirs.  Herman Fuselier is a familiar voice on KRVS. He's the host of Zydeco Stomp and has a storied history of his own — chronicling Louisiana’s cultural traditions. Herman grew up literally next door to the world stage of Zydeco in Opelousas and spent years as a columnist and music writer in the Acadiana area. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Oxford American and NPR, and he’s the go-to guy for liner notes on big Zydeco records. In 2016, Herman published Ghosts of Good Times, which packs an authoritative history of Louisiana’s dance halls dating back decades. Oh, and by the way, during daylight hours, Herman is the executive director of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission. This episode of Out to Lunch Acadiana was recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in Downtown Lafayette. You can find photos at our website. And check out more lunch table conversation about words and music. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 15

29 min

What’s your shangri-la? Traditionally, in Acadiana, that might be the great outdoors. This is, after all, the sportsman’s paradise.  Finding your piece of heaven usually comes down to the world around you. For a lot of folks, that means where you live — literally. Your home is your private paradise. For others, perhaps, it’s something less tangible. Shangri-la is not where you are but an extension of your imagination — a state of mind or a world you conjure far away.  Either way, someone has to build it or help you find it. Christiaan's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana are both in the business of making dreams come true. Home In the more conventional sense, Aimia Doucet helps families realize the traditional American dream — homeownership. She’s the mortgage lender and branch manager at GMFS Mortgage.  Home buying has changed a lot over the years, and Aimia's specialty is helping buyers navigate the process, debunking myths and helping them find a home that suits them. She’s one of the top lenders in the state by loan volume and was ranked #1 in the Lafayette market in 2018. Screen What about the world of imagination? If you’re working with bits and graphics and not brick and mortar, the possibilities are, theoretically, endless. Game development and design has become more cinematic, more detailed, more expansive. Joshua Perrodin is part of training the next generation of world builders at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Lafayette. The industry has exploded in the last twenty years, and programming and development have become in-demand skillsets. What students learn at AIE isn’t limited to gaming either. Programming and development is also useful in building simulations for training in other fields like the oil and gas industry. This show was recorded over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Lucius Fontenot at our website. And here's more lunchtime conversation about Acadiana real estate and creative thinking, with Geoff Daily and Peggy Grace. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 8

29 min 49 sec

Brands can become institutions — legacies that outlast their founders and become fixtures in our lives. In Acadiana, if your brand is food, it can become sacred. That means you don’t mess with it.  Now, imagine you inherit the institution or buy it. Well, on the one hand, you’ve got everything you need to succeed. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Or if it tastes good, don’t fuss around with the recipe.  But businesses are living things in their own way. There’s a balance to strike between what old customers expect and what new customers want. Growth comes with change and requires innovation. How do you do that with an institution?  Christiaan's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana are both at the helms of Acadiana food institutions. And when it comes to staples, there’s no brand more traditional than Savoie’s Foods.  Open a pantry and you’ll find the same roux Ms. Eula Savoie first cooked in batches and sold in the family grocery store in Opelousas decades ago. Today, Savoie’s is a multi-million dollar food manufacturer and sells Cajun specialties like boudin, tasso and andouille sausage across the South. Ms. Eula passed away in 2010 and the company is now in the hands of Freddie Lafleur, who is the company's CEO. Like most of the employees at Savoie’s, he’s been with the company for a long time. Thirty-seven years ago he started counting beans at Savoie’s as a company account. Now he’s in charge of the family-run sausage empire. Robert Autin had two dreams as a kid: becoming a doctor and owning a restaurant. Today, Robert is a surgeon practicing here in Lafayette. And in 2017, he bought a restaurant, a Freetown institution: the Acadian Superette. Since then, Robert’s put his stamp on the restaurant adding his own specialties to the menu — smoked meats, lamb, cochon de lait — on top of the Superette’s line of plate lunches. Ms. Lynne, who sold the Superette to Robert and ran it since the 1990s, is still on hand to help him out. Robert has turned Ms. Lynne’s Superette into a hangout. He's added a patio, a bar, and now hosts live music and private events. Somehow, he still finds time to scrub in for surgeries. You can find photos from this show by Lucius Fontenot at our website. And you can check out more lunchtime conversation about iconic Acadian food here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 25

29 min 34 sec

I work from home most of the time. And my desk is a pile of post-it notes, coffee mugs, knick knacks and unopened mail. I look to my left and my wife’s desk has the tranquility of a Buddhist temple. No wonder she gets more done.  Getting organized is a kind of therapy. It also makes satisfying TV. Marie Kondo made the trade famous by teaching people to spark joy in their lives with precise and meditative organizing. But she was really the tip of a long spear. Home and commercial organization has been a profession for some time. There’s real value in having someone experienced in making spaces work do it for you. Organizing doesn’t spark joy for everyone. But being organized does. Renee Ory of Amazing Spaces here in Lafayette has made a career of it since the early 2000s. Renee began her professional career in design, but switched to organizing  when she saw how many clients she worked with needed it. Amazing Spaces works with both residential and commercial clients, organizing home offices and streamlining warehouses for efficiency. They also provide move out and move in services, helping customers pack up and unpack with peace of mind. Renee has a personal passion for organizing pantries and has a penchant for arranging space in older homes. Deep shelves are nothing a 20 foot lazy susan can’t fix.  Cleansing inside you is just as important for your mental health as cleaning around you. We’ve traded wholesome nutrition in our diets for cost and convenience. According to one estimate, around 90% of Americans have traces of pesticides in their bodies from eating conventional produce. Spinach is apparently the worst offender.  Besides the long-term health effects, big meals can make you feel pretty lousy after lunch. Clean eating can clear the way to a clean mind, and that’s what Beverly Boatner offers at Clean Juice Lafayette, the first local franchise location of the national organic juice chain. Clean Juice offers made-to-order organic juices, smoothies, wraps salads and grain bowls. It’s the only all-organic juice bar in the city and they also offer juice cleanses: which are like home organizers for your body.  Beverly operates Clean Juice with her daughter and both of them are teachers. They use that background to help customers understand what to eat for their health and why. This show was recorded over lunch at The French Press in Lafayette. Photos by Kieran McIntosh are at our website. Here's more lunchtime conversation about the Lafayette mind-body fitness connection. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 18

32 min 16 sec

In theory, plants are a pretty simple product. The general principle of it is straightforward. You put something in the ground. Add some water, some nutrients. You wait, you harvest, you eat. Or maybe you stuff it in a wicker basket and sell it at the farmer’s market.  But it’s really not that simple if you want to take something homegrown and market it. We run across products all the time that — in theory — you could make yourself. But maybe you couldn’t make it quite as well or as consistently or cheaply.  That’s the hump to get over in taking backyard commerce to the marketplace. And it applies to folks selling produce like hydroponic lettuce or what business school types call “value added products” like an herbal tea.  Or how about manglier tea? If you grew up in a Creole or Cajun household, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, manglier tea is a French Louisiana cure-all made from a shrubby bush you probably have in your backyard. Traiteurs — faith healers — use it to treat all kinds of maladies. Your grandmother might have made it for you when you got a cold. It works. And like any medicine that works, it usually tastes awful. Rayvin Silas-Chevalier has figured out how to make it more than a little palatable. Her company Blackbird Botanica brews manglier tea with honey, lemon orange and cinnamon. Her recipe is so good at helping the medicine go down, she can hardly keep up with the demand on shelves at local shops around Lafayette. Rayvin comes from a long line of healers. And it was her work as doula that first got her interested in herbal brewing. Her flagship product is Brave’s Brewed Manglier Tea — a Creole Immune Boosting Elixir. Homebrewing and home growing can be rewarding, especially when it’s healing. But what if you want to scale up and bring that nutrition to a wider audience.  That’s actually pretty tricky. Selling even lettuce on grocery store shelves takes an act of Congress — more specifically meeting USDA standards. But that’s what it takes if you want to do local — bigger. And that’s Kohlie Frantzen  is trying to do with his hydroponic farming concept — Helical Farms. Hydroponic farming was an “a-ha” moment for Kohlie. The set-up, the machinery, the possibilities all seemed like a perfect fit for the skilled trades in Louisiana’s oil patch. Helical’s top seller is lettuce, which they supply to several local restaurants. And the operation has partnered with food banks to stock pantries during the pandemic.  This show was recorded live over lunch at The French Press in Lafayette. You can find photos from the show by Kieran McIntosh at our website. Check out more lunchtime conversation about local health alternatives and healthy local food farming here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 11

34 min 15 sec

Creativity can be like gas in a tank. If you go, go, go, you burn it all up. Work/life balance in creative industries is really important.  Business owners are paying more attention now to the environment they create for their employees. It’s not just about recruitment, either. It makes for a better product for your clients and customers.  Talent needs a place to thrive. And running creative businesses in a secondary market like Lafayette means you’re often a training ground. Developing talent can be an important competitive advantage.  Creative Cherie Hebert created a garden for advertising talent when she launched BBR Creative with her partners in 1997. The firm has grown to compete on the national stage with award-winning campaigns for big brands like Tabasco, CC’s Coffee House and Cox Communications. What got Cherie into the business was a passion for advertising design, a discipline with an important distinction from visual design. Advertising design is about sending a message, not just establishing a vibe. BBR creates messaging that cuts through the noise. With so much media noise pollution out there, it’s a tricky thing to do. At BBR, Cherie has created a space for her employees to create. They make a point to avoid burnout so their creative juices can refill. It’s an attitude that’s helped the firm attract gobs of talent over an impressive two decade run.  Tattoo Like good design in advertising, a good tattoo needs clarity. Strong lines. Stark contrast. An image that cuts glass. Or, as tattoo artist Coby Cox would put it, an image you can make out from across the bar.  Tattoos aren’t rebellious like they used to be. Thirty percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. That’s about 100 million people. And the market for ink is getting more competitive but also more sophisticated.  Coby has watched the industry change from his shop AAA Tattoo in Lafayette since 1997. AAA sets itself apart from other shops with an open environment. It’s the kind of place anyone can get inked without judgment, and where young artists can learn tricks of the trade. Coby knows what it’s like to be the punk kid in the tattoo shop. He got his first tattoo at 16 in the back of a Harley shop. In other words, AAA’s business strategy is to invest in people. See photos from this show by Brad Bowie at our website. And check out Cherie's previous appearance on Out to Lunch Acadiana when she was in the tiny house business. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 27

29 min 50 sec

Family is a big deal in Acadiana. That can be quite literally true. Family trees are large and deep-rooted, and that grounds a lot of us here. This area is known for having among the highest population retention in the nation. That doesn’t necessarily make being a teenager in Acadiana any easier. Defining who you are and who you want to be can be challenging. All the more so perhaps as the community diversifies and what it means to be from Acadiana becomes more complex.  Angst is angst wherever you are. And growing up in Acadiana can throw some unique challenges at you. There’s a dark side to joie de vivre. And in that shadow depression, anxiety and alienation lurk for teenagers coming up in a thorny world.  Roy Petifils helps high schoolers navigate all that as a professional counselor. At one time, Roy sought a career in the cloth, but left the seminary to work at St. Thomas More Catholic High School in Lafayette. He figured out quickly that he connected better with students one-on-one than at the whiteboard and made the career switch to faith-based counseling. He’s an author, podcaster and public speaker and practices at Pax Renewal counseling center in Lafayette. Roy is also the host of the podcast, Today's Teenager. Historically, Acadiana’s unique culture has been a grounding force folks growing up here. That’s come through tremendous effort over the decades to preserve and promote Francophone heritage in the region. The effect has been powerful for our traditions — music, food, art — but not necessarily for the French language.  Speaking French natively is still waning, observes Lindsay Smythe Doucet. There was a time when most of us had a native French speaker in our families, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore, even as the broader culture has persevered.  Lindsay has taught French and English in the public school system for over 15 years, most notably at Lafayette High. In 2021 she’ll make the leap into running a brand new French immersion elementary school in Sunset: Ecole St. Landry. The program emphasizes dialect and conversation in its curriculum, instead of harping on conjugation and grammar. The goal here is to teach kids a language in a way that allows them to express themselves, to get on Twitter or Instagram and TikTok and play with French in the same way they do their native tongue. The school will open with 100 kids. See photos by Lucius Fontenot from this show, recorded over lunch at The French Press, at our website. And there's more lunchtime conversation about Acadiana families here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 20

29 min

The Romans had a saying: In vino veritas: In wine truth. It’s due for an update. Vodka is much more transparent. The art of distilling vodka is the pursuit of purity. There’s nothing to hide behind.  It makes a pretty good vehicle for a story to tell. And telling a good story is important if you want to get a leg up in the beverage industry. Of 220 million cases of alcohol sold each year in the U.S., 34% is vodka — the most among hard liquors.  So how do you tell a good story? You start with a grain of truth. In JT Meleck’s case: that’s rice. A distillery born on a rice farm in Branch, Louisiana, JT Meleck’s vodka is a genuine Louisiana product, and in that respect it’s one of a kind in a distilling sector dominated by potatoes and rye.  Mike Fruge started JT Meleck to add a new dimension to his family rice and crawfish farm. It’s no gimmick, either. JT Meleck is a premium spirit that doesn’t hide where it comes from. It’s named for Mike’s great great uncle who migrated to Louisiana to start the farm. The distillery is a new part of the business, and Mike still helms crawfish and rice farming operations, too. The label is also working on a rice-distilled whiskey.  When you’ve got a story like Mike’s, you might not need a great storyteller to sell it. But some companies don’t have such a strong sense of who they are and why they are. That’s where Jan Risher comes in. Jan Risher is CEO of ShiftKey PR and a columnist for The Advocate. She did her time as a journalist, too, and now teaches a course in memoir writing online. With ShiftKey, Jan puts her nose for a good story to work for her clients, digging into the details to find the kernel of truth that will resonate with consumers.  We’re bombarded with storytelling and spin. Jan’s concept is pretty simple: how do you set your brand apart? Tell the truth. So there's your Roman history update: In Vodka and PR Veritas. See photos from this show by Jill Lafleur on our website. And check out Mike Fruge's previous appearance on Out to Lunch Acadiana where he talks about crawfish with sugarcane farmer Eddie Lewis. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 13

29 min 50 sec

At some point, it feels like every business will have to compete with Amazon. The stereotyped struggle of the 20th century was mom and pop versus Walmart. And we’ve all seen how that changed the commercial landscape in downtowns across America, and right here in Acadiana. Economies of scale are a powerful thing. The new family business isn’t likely a brick and mortar anymore. E-business has created new opportunities through products on demand and on delivery. It’s the upside of entering a digital marketplace. If you’ve got a product to sell, you can find a low-cost way to market it.  It’s crowded out there and companies of all sizes need a way to differentiate what they do. And what better way to get ahead than get reviewed.  Sarah Branton, has found a niche as a supplier, so-to-speak, of reviewers.  Her company Real Product Talk brokers free samples of new products to a network of around 1,000 reviewers. Reviewers are unpaid, but they get loads of free stuff to try and then tell the world what they think on Amazon, Target, Etsy and Google. Real Product Talk has given away around $1 million in free products since Sarah and her partner launched it in 2014.  Originally from Cecilia, Sarah is a serial entrepreneur and podcast host. She’s also leveraged her connections into a successful affiliate marketing business on Facebook.  Laure Hess got her start in digital marketing and found her big break in the gig economy. Laurel created Hampr, an app-based laundry delivery service, that connects laundry-laden households with washers willing to take that burden off their hands. Hampr’s target market is Laurel herself — the busy-mom-on-the-go. But during the pandemic, the service became useful for frontline workers working long hours. Working in the healthcare industry gave Laurel an opportunity for a pandemic pivot. She used Hampr’s existing delivery network to spin off Presto Health, a startup that delivers prescriptions in partnership with Ochsner Lafayette General. In 2020, Hampr was selected for Techstar, a highly competitive startup accelerator in Austin that comes with a $120,000 investment award.  Photos from this show by Jill Lafleur are at our website. Hear Laurel talking about her early roll out of Hampr here.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 23

29 min 10 sec

There’s a silly proverb: "Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach." It's silly because we all know that some of the best teachers can do and can teach. Skill and the ability to lead by example are immensely valuable especially when you’re teaching a craft or trade or a sport.   Teaching is a good product. And when executed properly it puts students on a lifetime path of learning and enjoying.   Melissa Hill created a space for folks to do just that . Niche Creative Studio in Lake Charles is part craft shop but all creative studio. A third-generation sewer, Melissa grew up crafting and carved out a side-hustle making memory quilts while she worked in nonprofits. She launched Niche in 2014 as a center for what she calls “missional creativity” — helping people find their own creative passions.  Savannah Vinsant Thompson accomplished her childhood mission pretty early. At 19, she was the first American to qualify for the Olympic trampoline finals and  joined Team USA for the 2012 Olympic games in London. Since then, she’s made a living training the next generation of Olympians at her gym Hangtime TNT. She offers tumbling, cheer and gymnastics courses at two locations, one in Scott and one in Broussard. Somehow she squeezed in winning a national championship in 2018 before stepping back from Olympic competition to focus on her work.  You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. There's more lunchtime conversation about Lake Charles businesses here and about creative outlets for kids here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 16

29 min 15 sec

You know a concept has become ingrained in the business world when it gets an acronym or shorthand. MVP — minimum viable product. CSR — corporate social responsibility. And now DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion.  Emphasizing diversity is nothing new. Business leaders, especially in corporate America, have embraced the idea that drawing from a wider pool of talent and perspective can make their companies better. The other two components — equity and inclusion — are somewhat newer considerations in boardrooms.  Equity, in this case, meaning the distribution of stake, power and opportunity and inclusion, meaning a proper seat at the table.  They have become more common in hiring and workforce development in the last few years, but the urgency of the issue exploded in 2020, particularly around racial justice. Put simply, it’s not just a moral imperative any more. Companies can’t afford to be toxic. Changing can require facing down unvarnished truths and having some uncomfortable conversations. Uncomfortable conversations are a specialty for Elsa Dimitriadis. Her company Conversation Starters specializes in diversity and facilitation training. They help companies take a hard look out how they do business and whether their practices make room for everyone. Conversation Starters launched in 2016, inspired by the unrest caused by the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Data from their work with local and national clients shows substantial improvement in workplace perceptions of leadership diversity, belonging and respect. In short — their method works.  Taniecea Mallery heads the Office for Campus Diversity at UL Lafayette, but she began her career in math, getting a PhD in applied and computational mathematics from Princeton. Since returning to Lafayette, Taniecea has spearheaded UL’s strategic inclusion plan and has worked to help the school identify faculty members from underrepresented communities. Her leadership has put UL on the map as one of American higher ed’s DEI frontrunners, helping the school become one of only 19 U.S universities to participate in Aspire, a program for faculty inclusion in science technology engineering and math launched by the National Science Foundation. For more background to this conversation, check out this conversation about diversity and neighborhoods in Lafayette. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 9

29 min 24 sec

Researchers estimate that more than 2 million Americans need help with an opioid addiction. And only about 25% will actually get it.  This can all seem so very daunting. But the reality is, we are getting better at treating substance abuse disorders.  For one thing, we have better medicines that are keeping people alive. And providers are changing how they approach treatment of the disease, now recognizing that stability, not abstinence, is essential to sobriety.  Mark DeClouet is a psychiatric nurse practitioner. And he’s among a relatively small number of addiction treatment providers in Louisiana who have embraced this more compassionate approach. His clinic, Axis Behavioral Health, meets opioid addiction patients where they are. Crucially, his is one of the few operations that makes this treatment readily available to people insured by Medicaid. Of course, the changes in how we treat opioid use disorders come from a better understanding of how they happen in the first place. Broadly speaking, health researchers have come to understand that our health is not just a function of our physical wellbeing. Where we live, where we come from, what we do and what our circumstances are have immense influence on our likelihood of getting sick and, perhaps more to the point, recovering.  Left unaccounted for, these social determinants of health can frustrate the treatment process and lead to repeat hospital visits, which drives up the cost of healthcare for everyone, while no one seems to get healthy. What good is a good drug if the nearest pharmacy is 25 miles away, you live alone and you don’t have a car?  Holly Howat has a nonprofit that tries to address the external factors that can complicate treatment. Beacon Community Connections has a simple innovation: the telephone. Her community care navigators connect with patients after they are discharged from the hospital to make sure they have what they need to get the best shot at staying healthy. Lafayette is proud of its anointed title of "America's Happiest City," but clearly there are dark days for many of us here and across what appears from the outside to be bucolic Acadiana. Photos from this show by Jill Lafleur are at our website. There's more Acadiana mental health talk here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 23

29 min 49 sec

Grocery stores did very well during the pandemic. In 2020, Lafayette grocery stores pulled in just over $300 million, a 10% increase over the previous year. It makes sense. Restaurants shut down. People stayed home. Supplies were key to surviving a stay-home order.  Now, imagine that there wasn’t a grocery store near you. Imagine you lost your job, or you were furloughed. Maybe you don’t have a car and the nearest grocery store is five miles away. If that’s your situation, you live in what researchers call a food desert. And that’s not just a problem during a pandemic.  Having access to healthy food is essential to a good quality of life. And more and more people now live in food deserts. They live shorter lives with higher rates of chronic disease. It’s a serious social problem and it disproportionately impacts poor and historically black neighborhoods.  On this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana, Christiaan Mader's guests are working to bring healthy food to communities without it, specifically on Lafayette’s northside.  Kevin Ardoin comes from a family of farmers, but he didn’t become a farmer himself until he had an epiphany. He quit his job in retail and got to farming. He now owns Zydeco Farms — a 43-acre produce farm in Evangeline parish. In 2020, Kevin launched Fightingville Fresh, the first farmers market in Lafayette’s Fightingville neighborhood and its mission is to make good, healthy produce available to folks living in a food desert.  While Kevin is working in Fightingville, Tina Shelvin Bingham is planting all kinds of seeds in the McComb-Veazey neighborhood of Lafayette. Tina is Executive Director of the McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie and the Community Development Director for Lafayette’s Habitat for Humanity. She’s worked to grow prosperity in the neighborhood since 2012. And that includes creating a community garden, where McComb Veazey residents grow and share produce. Like Kevin, Tina’s current career path was a detour. She was trained as an engineer and is now engineering a brighter future for her neighborhood.  See photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. And here's lunch-table conversation about sugarcane and crawfish farming in Acadiana. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 16

29 min 17 sec

In case you were born after 2000, DJ stands for disc jockey. And true to the name, that’s what DJ’s did. They rode a record till it broke and  became a hit.  Today, being a DJ isn’t so much about introducing people to new music. At least that’s not the case with DJs on mainstream radio. Hits are everywhere. You can stream them any way you want. People tune in with expectations of what they will hear.  That’s why DJ Digital, a.k.a. Brandon Journet, says he’s in the “gathering business.” Digital is old enough to remember hauling sacks of vinyl from gig to gig. But young enough to have been underage at the time. Locally you know him as an on-air personality on Hot 107.9.  He also hosts a nationally syndicated hip hop show via Townsquare Media called XXL Higher Level Radio.  Of course, restaurants were always in the gathering business. Ambience and culture in a dining room is often as important as what’s on the plate. In a place like Acadiana, where everyone can cook, you have to have some other kind of edge.  Restaurateurs often miss this crucial step in developing their businesses. Making their restaurants stand out and leave a lasting impression is essential to success. And with razor thin margins, getting it wrong can be devastating.  John Petersen helps restaurants avoid those traps. John is a consultant with Social Advising, a company that contracts with new restaurants to shore up and design their businesses from the back of the house to the front door.  John is a serial entrepreneur and a partner in some successful restaurants himself, including Central Pizza & Bar in Downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. And here's some more lunch table conversation about food and music in Lafayette (an almost inexhaustible subject).   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 9

32 min 30 sec

Before the folks behind Beausoleil Books built a coffee shop or a bar to go inside their new boutique, they checked with their neighbors — the cafes and bars in Downtown Lafayette. They settled on a wine bar: something new to the fabric of Jefferson Street and something that wouldn’t compete.  That’s the shop local response to behemoth retail. Collaboration. Neighborliness.  Bryan Dupree and his three business partners created Beausoleil to bring new literature and ideas to Lafayette and to celebrate the French language. They stock new fiction and classic and cookbooks, in English and French. Their wine bar, The Whisper Room, is coming later.  A big part of what you get at a local shop like Beausoleil is personalized experience. There’s nothing more personal than style, especially when what you wear is fashioned by hand, like a work of fine art.  Hat-maker Colby Hebert’s shop The Cajun Hatter is another newcomer to Downtown Lafayette, but his hats have been in demand since he first started making them in 2016.  His brand took off in New Orleans, where he also spent time in the film industry, both as an actor and in costume production. He found his way back to Acadiana in 2020. Hat-making has seen something of an explosion recently. Four years ago, Colby was one of a few dozen hat makers in the U.S. Today, there are hundreds. Being a Cajun Hatter, makes Colby one of a kind. You can see photos by Jill Lafleur from this show at our website. There's more lunchtime conversation about the Acadiana book business here and meet local author and illustrator Denise Gallagher over lunch here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 26

30 min 50 sec

The great American shopping mall has been on the endangered species list for several years now. But the retail apocalypse has yet to be realized. If malls are doomed, they don’t seem to notice.  It is true, however, that the way we shop is in the middle of a long disruption. When Amazon came along, it heralded the end of the in-person shopping experience and the trimmings that go along with it. In the mall’s case - food courts, arcades, playgrounds.  But the human touch has persevered. Brick and mortar stores have been making a coming back as people turn to bespoke shops to get personal guidance. Brands and retailers have to make it work both online and offline, embracing the advantages of each vehicle.  Vintage Fashion retailer Mitzi Guidry is swimming upstream of retail trends. After moving back to Lafayette from Los Angeles she converted her online vintage boutique into a brick and mortar shop in Downtown Lafayette, called Lilou. Lilou collects and curates vintage and unique pieces for re-sale. It also doubles as a micro-cafe, allowing Mitzi to throw food popups and create a culture and community around her business. Mitzi has worked in the fashion industry for close to two decades, and still maintains a full-time gig with Los Angeles Leathercraft, a clothing manufacturer based in L.A.  Churro For malls and retailers competing with online giants, the shopping experience is everything. And that often includes food service. Food courts have always been around shopping malls but they’ve become more and more important and more and more exotic in what they serve. Daniel Estaban owns and operates The Churro’s Boutique, a kiosk in the Acadiana Mall that whips up wildly creative and personalized portions of the Mexican street dessert. If you haven’t had a churro before, it’s like a fried doughnut piped out of a pastry bag. You often find them with cinnamon and chocolate dipping sauce. But at Churro’s Boutique you can get them stuffed with cream cheese and strawberries and even mounted into a cake. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. And here's more lunchtime conversation about local commerce and global e-commerce. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 19

30 min 13 sec

Maybe you could boil the tourism industry down into two segments: where you’re going and how you get there — the journey and the destination. Between the two of them you have the “why question,” as in, "Why bother leaving your house?"  For Louisiana and Acadiana particular, the allure to travelers is an exotic land within reach. The region is unique. And if you land in the right spot — a coffee shop with a French table perhaps — you can be transported without going too far.  It isn’t as organic as it seems. It’s taken years to claw back this area’s French language from the brink of oblivion, and that work is far from done. If it disappears, that’s one less reason for folks to travel here.  Francophone Will McGrew has taken up the baton of decades of preservation work but with a for-profit twist. His company Tele-Louisiane is part production house, part content platform. It creates and distributes French-language content from across the state and aims to grow the broader cultural economy in Louisiana French dialects. In a sense, he’s seeding the market. Both creating and meeting a demand for Louisiana French film, shorts, documentaries and other media created in Louisiana.  Louisiana is the center point here. And Will intends to build a company that sources content from all the language cultures that make a home here. He founded Tele-Louisiane in 2018 and has steadily built a portfolio of original content for commercial and noncommercial partners. In 2021, he’s launching two new educational series marketed at the state’s French immersion programs. Van Of course for a lot of people, it’s not about where you’re going, it’s how you get there. RV travel isn’t just a means of conveyance, it’s a way of life. And one that commands a surprisingly lucrative segment of the travel economy. The RV industry accounts for roughly $50 billion in economic activity in the United States. And about 9 million Americans own RVs.  The sector is also starting to get a bit younger, as those bellwether millennials have begun to buy the appeal of traveling the open road in what can amount to a studio apartment on wheels. But the RV industry has been missing the connective tissue that makes hotel travel easier in the information age. Apps like Kayak.com or Travelocity don’t exist to centralize booking for the RV market. And that’s problematic for travelers who, by nature, go with the flow and often need a place to anchor down at the last minute. That’s where Spot2nite comes in. Created by Terry Broussard and his son-in-law, Spot2nite offers both RV parks and RV travelers a convenient way to connect and manage bookings. Unlike the centralized booking apps in the hotel and resort industry, Spot2nite allows site operators to keep their existing booking systems. Spot2nite has park clients in 11 states and is developing an Apple iOS based mobile app that will accelerate the company’s growth.  You can find photos by Jill Lafleur from this show at our website. Here's some more lunchtime conversation about Acadiana tourism.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 12

33 min 40 sec

When you have a business, you usually have some sort of a business plan. Even if you don’t run endless spreadsheets, you have goals, and an idea of how things will look if everything goes right. And, though you might be a bit more reluctant to think about it, you generally have an idea of what things might look like if you hit a lean period. But, no matter how carefully you plan for every eventuality, for our two guests on Out to Lunch today there was nothing in the playbook to turn to when events conspired against them in the first Quarter of 2020. When we first talked to these guys about appearing on Out to Lunch, we had a very different show planned. They both had their own very different shows planned too. Scott Feehan is Executive Director of Festival International. If you live in Acadiana, you’re already wincing in sympathy. And wondering, “What’s going to happen to Festival in 2021?” If you don’t know anything about Festival International, it’s a gigantic, sprawling and fabulous, free, street festival that takes place in downtown Lafayette every year in April. It’s the biggest international music and arts festival in the U.S. The Other Show Are you wondering what could be equally as difficult as being responsible for staging an outdoor street festival during a global pandemic? How about running a theater company? That’s what Steven Landry does. Steven is Managing Artistic Director of Acadiana Repertory Theater. Acadiana Repertory Theater, or ART, is one a of a rare breed of theater companies that specializes in premiering new plays. If you’re one of the 73,000 playwrights on planet earth, it’s tough getting your work performed on any stage, anywhere. That’s why ART gets to select their annual season of 3 or 4 shows from over 1,400 submissions. Photos by Jill Lafleur. Check out Scott’s appearance on Out to Lunch in happier days for Festival, and all of us. But, hey good times are around the corner, the show must go on, and somehow we'll be live in 2021! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 5

29 min 40 sec

If you’re talking to somebody and you’re discussing how far it is from here to your place, you might say “It’s a long way.” The person you’re talking to can say, “How far is it exactly?” You can tell ‘em, “Three miles,” and they can decide if they regard that as a long way or not. Here in Acadiana, it’s equally important to have an accurate measure of heat. But when somebody says to you, “How hot is that gumbo?” what do you say? You’re left with reverting to a use of language that is more Asian than English – where the meaning of a word changes with the intonation. In discussing gumbo, “It’s hot” has a vastly different meaning than “It’s hot.” But, although we might understand each other, you can’t communicate with anywhere near the objective accuracy you had when you were discussing how far it is from here to your place. Which is curious, because there is actually a scientific measure of spiciness. Heat, in this sense, is measured in Scovilles. A standard bottle of Tabasco sauce is around 5,000 Scovilles. Keep that number in mind. 5,000. Because there’s a guy here in Lafayette who grows his own peppers, and he’s famous in the world of pepper-growers for breeding and growing one of the world’s hottest peppers. It’s called the Primo Pepper. The Primo Pepper is 1.5 million Scovilles. That’s hot. The Primo Pepper is the creation of Troy Primeaux, but everybody calls him Primo. If you want to try Pimo’s Peppers but you don’t want to risk blowing the top of your head off, you can try sensibly tempered versions of the Primo taste in various forms – in hot sauces and in The Farmer’s Daughter brand of pepper jellies. You can find these products in a number of stores across the Sate of Louisiana, and you can also find them online at the amazon.com of Cajun food, a website called CajunCrate.com. If CajunCrate.com doesn’t have every single product with the word “Cajun” in the title, and every single food product made in Acadiana, it’s got to be close. They have everything from Nunu’s Original Cajun Seasoning to Bayhi Cajun Chili Starter, Zydeco Chop Chop, and thousands of other items. You can also get a box of assorted Cajun goodies sent to you each month in an actual Cajun Crate, if you’re a Cajun Crate subscriber. Cajun Crate has been a successful business from its earliest days in 2016. Its creator and owner is Tara Guidry. Photos by Jill Lafleur. And there’s more conversation about Cajun Crate and hot peppers. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

29 min 20 sec

Louisiana shares the abbreviation “L.A” with the city of Los Angeles. Although that sometimes leads to some confusion on paper and online, in the real world there is very little overlap between the LA lifestyle in the desert west and the LA lifestyle in the humid South. For example, if Aileen Bennett sitting in for Christiaan Mader was to say “burritos” you’d say Los Angeles. If Aileen was to say “poboys” you’d pick Louisiana. So, how about “skateboarding?” Naturally you’re going to say, Los Angeles. But you know this is a trick question, right? The answer is, Lafayette native, Daniel Barousse. Daniel is an artist. A woodworker. And a skateboarder. The combination of those three traits is a company called Barousse Works, in which Daniel makes works of art from recycled skateboards. How’s The Market Doing? No, not the stock market. The other one. On South Johnston.  During the Covid crisis we’ve seen some changes around here. Some businesses we regraded as institutions, and others we always assumed were doing great, have closed for good. Although we all lose something when a local business closes, as consumers we manage to recover. We find another place to eat a poboy, drink a daiquiri, or buy whatever it was we used to get at what used to be our favorite place. But, during this pandemic we have come to realize there are some institutions that are simply irreplaceable. One of them is officially known as the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market, in Moncus Park. If you’re from Lafayette, you know it as The Farmer’s Market at The Horse Farm. Every Saturday morning since June 2013, the Farmer’s Market has been selling everything from fresh produce to popcorn. And offering experiences from Cajun music to face painting, 52 weeks a year. Some Saturdays it’s bitterly cold. Some Saturdays it’s raining. But every Saturday the Farmer’s market is open. Or, it was. Until it wasn’t. To catch up with what we’re optimistically calling post-covid plans for the Farmer’s Market, Alieen Bennett talks with Market Director, Mark Hernandez. If you didn’t know this show was made in the Louisiana variant of LA, and you just heard us talking about a vibrant farmer’s market and an artist who makes pieces of sculptural functionality out of recycled skateboards, you might well assume we were talking about the second largest city in America, rather than the 4th largest city in Louisiana. Photos by Jill Lafleur. Catch up with Abby the Popcorn person from The Farmer’s Market.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

30 min 39 sec

Writers are hustlers. When you get paid cents per word, you’ve got to write a lot of words to make ends meet. And that’s getting harder to do in a crowded market. Anyone can blog. We all learn to string a few sentences together in high school. What’s the point in paying a professional?  In journalism, there’s actually a crisis because of that dynamic. There are as many reporters working today in the United States as there were 40 years ago. The machines that made publishing a lucrative business — actual printing presses — are rusting over. It’s not that there’s a lack of writing. There’s a lack of money to pay anyone to do it. For most folks writing for a living, that means writing whatever, whenever and however.  Christiaan's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana both write to pay the bills — and that's not an easy thing to do. They wear a lot of hats to make ends meet and satisfy their curiosities.  Writer Charles Garret has led a curious life himself. He’s been a firefighter, a salesman, a mixed martial artist and a poet. Coming this year he’s launching a new venture Tora Arts that will turn back the clock on the communications industry – ditching the digital age for the honest touch of snail mail.  As a journalist, Chere Coen is a travel writer humping around the south for adventure and good eats. As Cherie Claire she’s a writer of romance novels— and a prolific one at that — publishing as many as two e-books each year.  Whatever medium they work in — journalism, poetry, advertising — today's writers are hustlers, ready for the gig economy.  Out to Lunch is recorded over lunch at The French Press in downtown Lafayette. You can see photos from this show by Lucius Fontenot, and more, at our website. And here's more lunchtime conversation with Acadiana writers...   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

31 min 49 sec

In Acadiana, business is a tradition and tradition is a business – often the family business. There’s a long heritage of musical families around here, dynasties of fiddlers and accordion players handing down the tools and tricks of the family trade to generation after generation. Here our Acadiana musical families are household names, every bit as famous and respected for their talent as dynasties in other states maybe be revered for wealth and power. In Acadiana, music is one of our greatest exports. Lafayette practically pumps out ranks of acclaimed Zydeco and Cajun musicians and most of them are carrying on something they learned from their parents and their parents’ parents. Throw a rock in any direction. You’ll probably hit a Grammy nominee. Throw another, you’ll hit her momma. Christiaan’s guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana are both internationally celebrated musicians from famous Cajun families. Virginia-born Ann Savoy married into the Savoy family of Eunice and has toured internationally with her band the Magnolia Sisters which explores the feminine side of the Cajun tradition — they’re not actually her sisters. Ann is a writer and will soon publish the second volume of her archival work Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People. Louis Michot grew up in a big, sprawling Cajun music family. Since 1999, he’s toured internationally with Lost Bayou Ramblers, a band he started with his brother Andre 20 years ago. Lost Bayou won a Grammy for their 2017 record Kalenda. Recently, Louis launched Nouveau Electric Records, a label that puts out experimental artists rooted in Louisiana French musical traditions. Out to Lunch is recorded over lunch at The French Press in downtown Lafayette. You can photos from this show at our website, Photos by Lucius Fontenot. Hear more tales about Acadiana music over lunch with Wilson Savoy, Joel Savoy, and Andre Michot. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

30 min 29 sec

As 2020 draws to a close, thankfully, we take a look back at Acadiana's wide world of sports. There can be a lot of pressure to take on the family business, especially when the family name becomes synonymous with the industry they work in. Imagine what it must be like to be a Hilton or a Disney or a Manning. Everybody copes with it differently. Some embrace it. Some make their own mark on it. Some leave it all behind and do something else entirely. Christiaan’s guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana come from Acadiana’s wide world of sports. Christian Willeford is the son of Beau Willeford, the legendary boxing coach and operator of the Ragin Cajun Boxing Club. Willeford’s dad trained scores of boxers in Acadiana over the years and brought the prestigious boxing championship, the  Golden Gloves, to Lafayette. Sadly, Beau passed away in 2019 after a brief bout with cancer. Christian recently announced that he will close the club after a nearly four-decade run but is keeping the Golden Gloves going. Leigh Hennesy Robson first made a name for herself as a world trampoline champion. Leigh was coached by her father, Jeff Hennesy, a prominent name in competitive trampolining. For the last two decades, however, Leigh has made a second name for herself, this time in the movie business. Leigh is a stunt double and stunt coordinator. She was Demi Moore’s double in GI Jane and Lucy Liu’s in Charlie Angels. Leigh is one of only a few hundred stunt women working in the film industry today. Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at The French Press in downtown Lafayette. Photos by Lucius Fontenot. More conversation about Acadiana sports with another remarkable Acadiana sportswoman, racecar driver Sarah Montgomery, here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

32 min

In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, or so Andy Warhol told us. That was pretty much a lie. But in fairness to Andy he probably couldn’t have predicted going viral. Today, people are fragmented into pockets of fame for all kinds of reasons. Celebrity isn’t just for gilded people on the coasts, it’s attainable by anyone, anywhere, anyhow, and you can get it even 30 seconds at a time.  That, of course, comes with it’s ups and downs. Not everyone makes money being famous. Some people turn out to be the subject of envy or hate. Others get blamed for things they can’t control, like the weather. And still others simply become infamous for just trying to make a point and have a little fun along the way.  Christiaan's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana occupy their own corners of fame. Out here, people call it "Lafayette Famous," but the idea applies wherever people make headlines or memes.  In Sydni Dupre’s world that means being TikTok famous. Sydni, originally from Sulphur, lives in Lake Charles, and has built an audience of hundreds of thousands of followers — many around the world — who peer into a window of her life. She uses her piece of fame to be a disability advocate. She has Friedrich’s Ataxia, a neurodegenerative disorder not unlike ALS or MS. In short clips of her day-to-day life — making coffee, griping about her boyfriend — Sydni normalizes her otherwise very normal and charming life. You can’t talk about "Lafayette Famous" without talking about meteorologist Rob Perillo. Rob's been in the business in this market for three decades and achieved a kind of metaphysical, cult fame. He’s not just famous for being on TV and controlling the weather, he’s famous for being Rob Perillo. There are all kinds of memes and tributes to him sprouting on the internet. Put another way, around here, he’s beloved, except when the weather is bad. OK, speaking of memes and undeserved backlash, comedian John Merrifield is maybe not so much known by name than by reputation. He founded the CajUUUN Memes Facebook Page in 2016, which is a kind of exchange for off-beat, irreverent and subversive jokes about Acadiana and the Cajun experience. He’s a Lafayette native but he transplanted to New York City to work the comedy scene there. He made a big splash locally in 2020 with some satirical internet pranks designed to “make a fool of the fascists” in local government. For his service, he was sued and became equal parts anti-hero and local villain. See photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. And, if this isn't enough for you, here's some more lunchtime conversation with Lafayette comedians.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

32 min 31 sec

Education was already on its way to a new normal before the coronavirus was around. Technology made sure of that. Before School 2020, virtual learning was en vogue at all levels. Of course, the pandemic accelerated the changes already in place and that came with a lot of growing pains for students, for families, for educators and for the companies that build the things that make learning in the modern era possible.  So much of what we have learned in 2020 is likely to stick around, including new teaching methods and new technologies for delivering them. The challenges aren’t going anywhere either. That’s why they call it a new normal.  The new normal, aka School 2020, is precisely where Christiaan's guests on this edition are doing business.  School Bryan MacDonald is CEO of SchoolMint, an education technology company that makes products to help schools attract, enroll, and retain students. SchoolMint was born on the West Coast in 2013 with help from the renowned startup school and investment channel, Y Combinator. SchoolMint left Silicon Valley for Silicon Bayou in 2019, moving its headquarters to Lafayette after acquiring another EdTech firm founded here. SchoolMint products are in 19,000 schools across the country.  After School 2020 After-school programming is also going through a sea-change these days. Allison Brandon, founder of Wonderland Performing Arts, can attest to that. Wonderland’s bread and butter is classes in the arts, with a specialty in stagecraft. Recently, Wonderland has switched to virtual programming — connecting kids and parents with top flight talent over video platforms. In 2020, Wonderland got into the learning pod business. They offer proctored spaces for kids to do their virtual learning at regular school during the week with the added value of arts programming.  See photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. Here's more conversation about Acadiana education BC 2020 and about extra-school arts education BC 2020.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

30 min

A good idea never really goes out of style. In the food industry, that’s because the basics have remained pretty much the same since restaurants and commercial cooking were invented. Make something tasty and deliver it to your diners with good service: it’s a universal recipe for success. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s like baking. All the ingredients can be there: the eggs, the flour, the cream. Do it right, you got a rich delicious custard. Do it wrong, you got a plate of scrambled eggs.  Christiaan's guests on this edition of  Out to Lunch Acadiana have both been cooking it right in different ends of the industry. Brad Sonnier, a baker by trade, is the chef and owner of The Rolling Pin Bakery. He’s a longtime pastry chef with a passion for French baking. And he’s brought that home, literally, to a commercial kitchen next to his house in Duson, just outside of Lafayette. The Rolling Pin delivers bite size morsels of French classics like mousse and macarons to catered events and to farmers markets. Brad thanks for joining me on Out to Lunch.  Ted Kergan is the owner of the largest franchisee of Sonic Drive-in’s in Louisiana. Ted is a native of Detroit — home of the American auto giants — and he’s got a pretty giant operation himself. Kergan Brothers Sonic employs 2,000 people in 60 Sonics all around the state, including drive-ins in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles New Orleans and more. You can find photos by Jill Lafleur from this show at our website. And here's more conversation with Ted Kergan.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

29 min 40 sec

Right after World War II, the U.S. government invested heavily in the American dream. The idea was to create a nation of homeowners. So the federal government got in to the lending business, subsidizing the building of suburban America and giving birth to a massive middle class. It created unprecedented wealth passed along from generation to generation. The impact of those programs can still  be felt today. Especially in communities of color, who were left out of the project.  Historians and sociologists have pointed to that exclusion — paired with widespread segregation, not just in the Jim Crow south — as the root of generational poverty still disproportionately impacting Black Americans. Without the same shot at home ownership, they have historically lacked capital or equity to start businesses or send kids to college It’s created a shortage of wealth available to Black entrepreneurs.  Christiaan's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana have both worked to chip away at that problem. Corey Jack consults with aspiring entrepreneurs to demystify the process of starting businesses. He also works as a contracted liaison to Black-owned businesses for One Acadiana, this region’s multi-parish chamber of commerce. Corey serves as the Executive Director of the Holy Rosary Institute, a nonprofit effort to redevelop an historic Catholic school that served Lafayette’s Black community. Once complete it will serve as a new community center for North Lafayette.  Terrica Lynn Smith is a real estate developer and entrepreneur with a mission to build equity in Lafayette’s Black community. She’s built a portfolio of developments and clients in 22 states and launched an investment group to help people without investor-level money build wealth. Terrica is a published author and an advocate for the power of education. Her $14 million dollar Madeline Cove development will be one of the first projects financed by the federal government’s Opportunity Zone program which aims to put investor capital in distressed neighborhoods.  Photos from this show by Jill Lafleur are at our website. Here's more conversation about Acadiana home ownership. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

30 min 38 sec

It’s a cliche now that everyone has a brand. Drawing distinct boundaries around you are, what you do — and maybe just as importantly what you don’t do — isn’t just for selling toothpaste anymore. It’s what people do. They trademark their identities.  Branding of course has its own professional standards that vary from industry to industry. How you sell yourself as a musician is very different from how you might sell a car. The language and vocabulary are different. What matters to customers or audiences is different.  And those languages might be different in different places...just as they are different in different industries. But now, what used to separate markets are merging together. We have the power to reach the world. But that also means we have to compete with the world.  Like anything else. This gets even weirder in the post-Covid era. We’re all digging for gold virtually now. And for some industries that rely on personal connection — the detachment can be challenging.  Christiaan's guest on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana are hacking their own ways through this brave newish world, sorting out how to sell a brand in a collapsed economy and a shrinking map.  Musician Dustan Louque has made a career for himself on the road for two decades now. His brand of artful folk has been accompaniment to a #vanlife approach to his career. Unlike many independent musicians, he’s managed to build a gainful career on top of deep connections with an audience scattered throughout the country. Since the pandemic, he’s pivoted to virtual performances to keep trucking.  Jaci Russo is a branding strategy guru and co-owner of BrandRusso, a multifaceted marketing and branding agency based in Lafayette. BrandRusso serves a diverse base of clients from all four corners of the United States. Jaci and her husband Michael, the firm’s chief creative officer, have developed a unique approach to branding that kicks jargon to the curb and hones in on relating consumers to her clients. They call it Razor Branding and Jaci hosts a successful podcast about that strategy fittingly called — the Razor Branding podcast.  Wilson Savoy is a Grammy winning Cajun musician, best known as leader of the band The Pineleaf Boys. Although he's reached the pinnacle of success, Wilson, like Dustan, has also turned his back on a nationwide professional music career and chooses to sacrifice the highs and lows of life as a fulltime musician to continue living in Lafayette, building houses. But Wilson is discovering that you can only turn your back on the wider world to a certain extent. Although he idyllically might want to once in a while climb down from the roof of a construction site and climb up on a stage and play accordion or fiddle or keyboard - things aren't quite that simple right now. Case in point - this year's Festivals Acadians et Creoles, which was an online virtual festival. Photos from this show by Jill Lafleur are on our website. Check out Wilson's previous appearance on Out to Lunch. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

34 min 8 sec

Over the last few years, Southwest Louisiana has boomed. Billions in petrochemical investments poured into the region and put Lake Charles on an economic tear.  And there were plenty of entrepreneurs to take advantage of the bonanza. With big ticket clientele around and plenty of work, prosperity in Lake Charles market was the envy of the state.  The pandemic put a halt to that. Just like it did the last decade of economic expansion in America, the longest on record.  Just when Lake Charles and the rest of Louisiana began to wake up again. It got walloped. Twice. First Hurricane Laura. Then Hurricane Delta.  Christiaan's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana have businesses  in Lake Charles that have managed to keep chugging despite the chain of disasters.  John Viator operates a pair of bicycle shops - Southern Bicycle Company in Lake Charles and Acadiana Bicycle Company in Lafayette. The industrial clientele in the Lake Charles area has made the shop there very successful. And John has catered to them. But he’s also diversified. He launched a golf cart operation, Southern Golf Cars, two years ago, is developing a running retail brand and now has eyes on the shoe market.   Cody Porche’s company, Porche Aerial Imagery, flies unmanned drones for aerial photography in the Lake Charles’ industrial sector. Drones are cheaper and safer to operate than helicopters and have begun to shoulder in on that market. As you can imagine, aerial photography is in pretty high demand after a disaster, and Cody says Laura has kept him very busy since it came ashore with devastating effect across Southwest Louisiana.  See photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. Here's some more lunchtime conversation about Lake Charles from BC (Before Covid). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

30 min 15 sec

It wasn’t that long ago that eating organic was a niche kind of thing. Convenience was king and farm-to-table restaurants were seen as little more than a trend for diners with big wallets. You might find some novelty snacks at a grocery — or if you had a Whole Foods around and the willingness to spend your whole paycheck. But eating “organic” is really how we ate for most of human civilization. It shouldn’t be that surprising that there’s a demand for something we’ve had in our cultural DNA for centuries.  Christiaan's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana both operate homegrown food brands that get back to the roots of how we eat, with a mix of innovation. They’re familiar faces at farmers markets, but landed in the trade at very different points in their lives.  Larry Lemarie spent most of his life in the oil and gas industry. After he retired, he became a hydroponic farmer. At Cajun Acres Farms in Arnaudville he grows tomatoes and lettuce and kale that he sells at farmers markets. The method is clean, naturally bug free and fast. His basil is in high demand and he’s been struggling to keep up with orders. He’s currently designing and building a version of his hydroponic system to bring to Haiti as a part of a nonprofit mission. Taylor Stokes broke into the organic snack business when she broke her leg. Inspired to find something to munch on that could satisfy her carb cravings without gaining weight, she went vegan and experimented with veggie snacks with Cajun flavor. Out of the lab came Taylormade Eats, a line of kale chips that she launched at local farmer markets. Her chips landed on shelves at Lafayette’s Whole Foods when the organic grocer opened a few years ago. They now stock Taylormade chips at their stores in Houston.  Find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. Here's some more lunch-table conversation about organic options in Acadiana.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

28 min 50 sec

Christiaan Mader was unexpectedly out of commission today so we've decided to take a trip back to our Best Of vault and make a return to the life of pies. When we hear about people who are successful in business, we tend to hear different versions of a familiar story. Somebody with a singular vision relentlessly pursues an idea, till, against all odds and after all kinds of hardship, they create Wal-Mart or Apple. What you hear less often, are stories about people who have no single-minded obsession, but are nonetheless successful and happy, doing something today that just a few short years ago they would never have imagined. That’s the category that both of Aileen’s lunch guests fall into on this episode of Out to Lunch Acadiana.    Kevin Blanchard started out as a journalist. He was a news reporter in Lafayette, for The Advocate. By 2008 he was married and had kids. For a guy with a family to raise, the future of the newspaper business didn’t look too bright. So, Kevin went back to school. In 2011, he graduated from LSU with a law degree. As an attorney, Kevin was serving as Public Works Director and Chief Development Officer for Lafayette Consolidated Government when he came in contact with the owners of Southern Lifestyle Development. They’re the company behind River Ranch, and 17 other communities they’re developing throughout Louisiana. Kevin went to work at Southern Lifestyle Development as their in-house counsel. He soon became the company’s Chief Operating Officer. And that’s what he’s doing today, managing 40 employees.   Korey Champagne grew up in Thibodaux, went to LSU and majored in dietetics and nutritional science with a plan of getting into healthcare. On the way to making that plan happen, Korey was working as a paramedic. That’s when he met his wife, who is from Broussard, and they had a child. At this time, Korey was making some extra money by going to The Farmers Market with homemade pies that he was making. He couldn’t help but notice two things: one, he loved making pies. And two, his pies sold out really  quickly. For a while, Korey was a paramedic piemaker. Till it got to the point where he had to make a decision about where to concentrate his efforts. The sensible plan would have been to concentrate on a career in healthcare. And that’s how Korey came to be the founder and owner of a growing business called Acadian Slice. Acadian Slice is not a healthcare company, it makes pies. Today’s business plan lesson? What business plan? Apparently you can follow your heart or your gut, without a plan, and end up being happy and successful.   Photos at Marcello’s Wine Market Cafe by Lucius Fontenot. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

28 min 15 sec

Remember back in the BC (Before Covid) days when we had a music business? In this edition of Out to Lunch we look back on this conversation originally recorded in 2018. In Acadiana there are a lot of things that differentiate us from the rest of the country. The biggest of all of them is music. You can live in Kansas and learn to make a gumbo. You can live in California and row a pirogue. But there’s no way in the wide world that you can convincingly play Jolie Blond on the accordion or Bosco Stomp on the fiddle, unless you’re born and raised here. Typically, in a Western capitalist economy, a rare resource is worth a lot of money. However, when it comes to our treasured musicians, we tend to under value them. Most Cajun and Zydeco musicians are working a second job to subsidize their music career. Wilson Savoy plays in the Grammy Award winning band Courtbouillon, and crowd favorite Pineleaf Boys. He’s also a carpenter, building and renovating homes. Danny Devillier is a musician. And he’s come up with a new angle on a traditional way musicians often subsidize their careers: giving music lessons. Danny is a drummer. He plays in the Grammy nominated band Bonsoir Catin, and he’s played with everybody who’s anybody in Cajun and Zydeco from Michael Doucet to Roddie Romero. But Danny doesn’t just give drum lessons. He teaches people to play all kinds of instruments, including guitar and fiddle, at his music school, The Music Room, in Lafayette. Photos over lunch at Cafe Vermilionville  by Lucius A Fontenot are at our website. Hear Wilson's mom, Ann Savoy on Out to Lunch, and brother Joel too. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 2020

27 min 30 sec

When you have a business, you usually have some sort of a business plan. Even if you don’t run endless spreadsheets, you have goals, and an idea of how things will look if everything goes right. And, though you might be a bit more reluctant to think about it, you generally have an idea of what things might look like if you hit a lean period. But, no matter how carefully you plan for every eventuality, for our two guests on Out to Lunch today there was nothing in the playbook to turn to when events conspired against them in the first Quarter of 2020. When we first talked to them about appearing on Out to Lunch, we had a very different show planned. For April 2020. They both had very different shows planned for April 2020 too. Scott Feehan is Executive Director of Festival International. If you live in Acadiana, you’re already wincing in sympathy. And wondering, “What’s going to happen to Festival in 2021?” If you don’t know anything about Festival International, it’s a gigantic, sprawling and fabulous, free, street festival that takes in downtown Lafayette every year in April. It’s the biggest international music and arts festival in the U.S. The Other Show Are you wondering what could be equally as difficult as being responsible for staging an outdoor street festival during a global pandemic? How about running a theater company? That’s what Steven Landry does. Steven is Managing Artistic Director of Acadiana Repertory Theater. Acadiana Repertory Theater, or ART, is one a of a rare breed of theater companies that specializes in premiering new plays. If you’re one of the 73,000 playwrights on planet earth, it’s tough getting your work performed on any stage, anywhere. That’s why ART gets to select their annual season of 3 or 4 shows from over 1,400 submissions. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at our website. Check out Scott's appearance on Out to Lunch in happier days for Festival, and all of us. But, hey good times are around the corner and the show must go on!   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 2020

29 min 50 sec

If you’re talking to somebody and you’re discussing how far it is from here to your place, you might say “It’s a long way.” The person you’re talking to can say, “How far is it exactly?” You can tell ‘em, “Three miles,” and they can decide if they regard that as a long way or not. Here in Acadiana, it’s equally important to have an accurate measure of heat. But when somebody says to you, “How hot is that gumbo?” what do you say? You’re left with reverting to a use of language that is more Asian than English - where the meaning of a word changes with the intonation. In discussing gumbo, “It’s hot” has a vastly different meaning than “It’s hot.” But, although we might understand each other, you can’t communicate with anywhere near the objective accuracy you had when you were discussing how far it is from here to your place. Which is curious, because there is actually a scientific measure of spiciness. Heat, in this sense, is measured in Scovilles. A standard bottle of Tabasco sauce is around 5,000 Scovilles. Keep that number in mind. 5,000. Because there’s a guy here in Lafayette who grows his own peppers, and he’s famous in the world of pepper-growers for breeding and growing one of the world’s hottest peppers. It’s called the Primo Pepper. The Primo Pepper is 1.5 million Scovilles. That’s hot. The Primo Pepper is the creation of Troy Primeaux, but everybody calls him Primo. If you want to try Pimo’s Peppers but you don’t want to risk blowing the top of your head off, you can try sensibly tempered versions of the Primo taste in various forms – in hot sauces and in The Farmer’s Daughter brand of pepper jellies. You can find these products in a number of stores across the Sate of Louisiana, and you can also find them online at the amazon.com of Cajun food, a website called CajunCrate.com. If CajunCrate.com doesn't have every single product with the word “Cajun” in the title, and every single food product made in Acadiana, it’s got to be close. They have everything from Nunu’s Original Cajun Seasoning to Bayhi Cajun Chili Starter, Zydeco Chop Chop, and thousands of other items. You can also get a box of assorted Cajun goodies sent to you each month in an actual Cajun Crate, if you’re a Cajun Crate subscriber. Cajun Crate has been a successful business from its earliest days in 2016. Its creator and owner is Tara Guidry. Photos from this show by Jill Lafleur are at our website. And there's more conversation about Cajun Crate and hot peppers. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 2020

30 min 5 sec

Louisiana shares the abbreviation “L.A” with the city of Los Angeles. Although that sometimes leads to some confusion on paper and online, in the real world there is very little overlap between the LA lifestyle in the desert west and the LA lifestyle in the humid South. For example, if I was to say “burritos” you’d say Los Angeles. If I was to say “poboys” you’d pick Louisiana. So, how about “skateboarding?” Naturally you’re going to say, Los Angeles. But you know this is a trick question, right? The answer is, Lafayette native, Daniel Barousse. Daniel is an artist. A woodworker. And a skateboarder. The combination of those three traits is a company called Barousse Works, in which Daniel makes works of art from recycled skateboards. How's The Market Doing? No, not the stock market. The other one. On South Johnston. During the Covid crisis we’ve seen some changes around here. Some businesses we regraded as institutions, and others we always assumed were doing great, have closed for good. Although we all lose something when a local business closes, as consumers we manage to recover. We find another place to eat a poboy, drink a daiquiri, or buy whatever it was we used to get at what used to be our favorite place. But, during this pandemic we have come to realize there are some institutions that are simply irreplaceable. One of them is officially known as the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market, in Moncus Park. If you’re from Lafayette, you know it as The Farmer’s Market at The Horse Farm. Every Saturday morning since June 2013, the Farmer’s Market has been selling everything from fresh produce to popcorn. And offering experiences from Cajun music to face painting, 52 weeks a year. Some Saturdays it’s bitterly cold. Some Saturdays it’s raining. But every Saturday the Farmer’s market is open. Or, it was. Until it wasn’t. To catch up with what we’re optimistically calling post-covid plans for the Farmer’s Market, Alieen Bennett talks with Market Director, Mark Hernandez. If you didn’t know this show was made in the Louisiana variant of LA, and you just heard us talking about a vibrant farmer’s market and an artist who makes pieces of sculptural functionality out of recycled skateboards, you might well assume we were talking about the second largest city in America, rather than the 4th largest city in Louisiana. See photos from this conversation by Jill Lafleur at our website. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 2020

32 min 25 sec

As Out to Lunch prepares to go back to hosting live lunches, for inspiration we're taking a look at some of our pre-Covid shows. Here's an Out to Lunch Best of: Biographies and Boxing. History is a messy business. It’s full of mixed and conflicting perspectives. It’s subject to revision — for the right or wrong reasons  And while it’s tempting to think of it as a collection of facts, history is really a collection of perspectives.  This holds especially true for histories of people. Think about it: there are competing biographies, or authorized biographies, even unauthorized biographies - and, of course,  autobiographies.  Christiaan's guests on this episode of Out to Lunch Acadiana are both writers of history.  Jason Theriot is a freelance author, a New Iberia native, and an academic. He’s written on a number of subjects, not just about people, including World War II histories and works about the environment, particularly the Gulf Coast. Jason is a former fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School where he worked on Environmental Policy. He’s currently working on a history of tank barges.  Deirdre Gogarty Morrison wrote her own history. She published an autobiography about her career as a boxer called “My Call to the Ring.” Deirdre was born and raised in Ireland and moved to Lafayette to work with the legendary boxing coach Beau Williford. Irish law prohibited women from boxing professionally but that didn't deter Deirdre. She was to become Ireland’s first women’s world champion and has been inducted into the international women’s boxing hall of fame. Deidre is retired from professional bouts now and spends her boxing time coaching both men and women.  Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Chopsticks restaurant in Lafayette. You can find photos from this show by Lucius Fontenot, and more, at our website.  Find out more about extraordinary Acadiana women in sports here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 2020

28 min 35 sec

As Out to Lunch prepares to go back to hosting live lunches, for inspiration we're taking a look at some of our pre-Covid shows. Here's an Out to Lunch Best of: Louisiana Silicon Bayou. The term "Silicon Bayou" has been around for some time. It’s the promise of a new economy for Louisiana, sometimes thought of in New Orleans. Beyond the confines of the Crescent City, the Louisiana Silicon Bayou stretches well into Acadiana. When you think about it, this area has always been the frontier when it comes to business, and that attitude was put on the map by oil speculators who came to be known as "wildcatters." Today we call that, "entrepreneur." These are the risk takers. The folks hunting for the next big idea and hoping to strike gold.  Christiaan's lunch companions on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana both work in the world of startups — the new business frontier with a different kind of wildcat.  Kyle Boudreaux, more often called Skip, got into the startup world early. By 25 he was the CEO of an innovative diaper company. He went on to work in the world of investment capital and he recently launched the first venture capital firm in the area, called Acadian Ventures.  Bill Dalton has worked in digital marketing since the dot-boom. He launched Firefly Digital in the late 90s with his partner Mike Spears. The company was one of the first ad agencies in the area to build and design marketing campaigns for the web. People still called it the world wide web back then. Firefly Digital incubated the startup Smart Choice Technologies to a successful exit. Now re-branded as Firefly Marketing, Bill’s team provides full-service digital marketing for clients near and far.  Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded over lunch at The French Press in Lafayette. There are photos from this show by Gwen Aucoin and lots more info on our website https://link.chtbl.com/Vj_kXlwb See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 2020

33 min 40 sec