Chef, writer, speaker, culinary personality and food blogger Jay Ducote’s roughly 150-square-foot office belies the substantial growth his Baton Rouge business has experienced in recent years—particularly since Ducote finished as runner-up on Food Network Star last summer.
As Business Report details in a feature from the current issue, kegs stacked atop cinderblocks prop up a caramel-colored, reclaimed wood desk where Ducote’s three-person Bite and Booze team works each day, feverishly writing new blog posts, answering emails, selling sauces and posting to social media.
During and since Ducote made his run on Food Network Star, his three employees say, business has been booming and fans are vying for Ducote’s attention everywhere he goes. The team still finds it hard to acclimate to Ducote’s newfound celebrity status—particularly given that just two years ago, he was still a one-man show.
“Not many people could handle that,” says Bite and Booze’s Content Sheriff and Warden of the Web [her actual title] Sydney Blanchard, who is responsible for managing blog and social media content.
Blanchard started with Bite and Booze as an intern in 2015 and was hired on as Ducote’s second full-time employee in May to handle the influx of business. She describes Ducote as “endlessly patient” and the most “extroverted extrovert,” explaining that both are keys to his success.
While many around him attribute his success to his likability combined with his culinary and communication skills, Blair Loup, hired as Ducote’s first full-time employee in 2014 with the title of chief confusion coordinator and spin doctor, says the reasons for Ducote’s popularity go much deeper.
“A huge part of his success as a businessperson, not as a food person or a blogger, but as someone who has business skills, is that his brain never stops turning,” Loup says. “He’s always thinking things out in great detail.”
Blanchard agrees that most people never experience that part of Ducote.
“People see the side of Jay that is a fun food guy, but Jay has a master’s degree,” she adds.
After trying his hand as a math teacher, a baseball coach and then working in health care grant writing and policy research, Ducote’s creativity combined with his love for tailgate cooking and culinary culture laid the foundation for his blog and have since translated into much larger successes.
What began as Ducote’s modest hobby has since grown into a culinary media company and expanding product line. Today, Bite and Booze LLC is a culinary media company that celebrates the food and beverage of Louisiana, along with the local culinary and consumption scenes wherever they travel around the country. Hug Jay D LLC, meanwhile, markets and sells Jay Ducote’s products, which include Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, Jay D’s Louisiana Molasses Mustard and Jay D’s Blanc du Bois, created as a collaboration with Landry Vineyards, a West Monroe winery.