Local food blogger Jay Ducote has signed a deal with Rouses Supermarkets to carry his line of barbecue products in its stores throughout the Gulf Coast, marking his first major expansion outside of the Baton Rouge market.
Still more expansion is on the way. Ducote has also contracted with Metairie-based distribution company Perrone and Sons to distribute his products not only to Rouse’s but to other supermarket chains throughout the region.
“This is our first major expansion and having a distribution partner will help us get into more stores,” says Ducote, adding that New Orleans-based Breaux Mart is picking up his product line and negotiations with Robért Fresh Market are under way. “Until about a month ago it was 100% self-distribution—whatever I could put in the back of my pickup truck. Now, we’re in stores as far away as Alabama.”
Ducote’s products, Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and Jay D’s Molasses Mustard, have been particularly popular at Rouses locations in Covington and Denham Springs, Ducote says. A third product, Jay D’s Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Rub, will debut this summer, and could be available on some local store shelves as soon as Memorial Day.
Since Ducote was a finalist on last season’s Food Network Star, his name-recognition and popularity have grown, helping fuel sales of his upstart line of food products. In less than a year he has expanded from a one-man operation to a small business with a handful of employees and a distribution contract.
The developments come as Ducote’s reputation in national food circles is growing. He has been invited to prepare an LSU-inspired tailgate meal in July at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City, and has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the trip. He also has been invited to cook at the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs and Champagne fundraiser in The Hamptons, at which Louisiana-born celebrity chef John Besh will be honored.