When Clark Gaines and his wife began developing the concept for White Star Market—which is expected to open early next year in Mid City—one of the first people they consulted was local chef Jay Ducote.
Gaines wanted to discuss the food hall concept with Ducote and see if the former Food Network Star finalist would be interested in helping to promote it. Ducote’s initial reaction was that it sounded like a very cool concept and a good way for people to get into the culinary business at a reasonable startup cost.
But Ducote says he soon realized that the concept would be a good way for him to test out his gourmet taco concept, dubbed Gov’t Taco, and he’s now signed on to be one of the 10 vendors in the market.
“Tacos are certainly something I love,” Ducote says. “I think a lot of people have a lot of affection for tacos.”
Gaines and his wife are opening their food hall concept—which has found success across the country, including at the St. Roch Market in New Orleans—in the mixed-use Square 46 development in Mid City along Government Street.
“This gourmet food hall concept is pretty trendy around the country right now, but something I feel has some staying power,” Ducote says.
Gaines says getting Ducote to sign on with the market is significant because of Ducote’s local celebrity status, which he’s cultivated over several years through his Bite and Booze blog, his social media following, a radio show on 107.3 WBRP-FM and, most recently, his run on Food Network Star.
“It’s a great get,” Gaines says.
Ducote says his menu will be different from the traditional Mexican taco offerings, and will be an amalgamation of his signature dishes, his favorite flavor profiles and food he has tried in his culinary travels.
“Every ingredient on every taco is going to be there on purpose and it’s going to be designed to compliment those flavors,” Ducote says.
The menu will be small, featuring a handful of signature tacos—like a BBQ taco with his Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce—and rotating daily specials. He says people can follow his recipe testing and development on social media in the next 10 months before White Star Market opens.
At White Star Market, each vendor will serve a different delicacy, all being made in the communal kitchen in the back of the 5,900-square-foot space. Gaines is leasing the space from Square 46 developer Joshua Hoffpauir, and the 10 vendors will sublease from Gaines.
Gaines says he has still has three food vendor spots left. He has more than 40 applications for those final spots, but says he is still hearing pitches for the spaces.