THE HOT SEAT: Jay Ducote, Gov't Taco Baton Rouge, LA
By Stephanie Burt, The Southern Fork
Photo Credit: Jordan Hefler Photography
Jay Ducote is a force in Louisiana food, from his tailgating prowess at LSU football games, his catering through Gov’t Taco, and his teaching and speaking about all things food and cooking. He serves on Dean’s Advisory Council for LSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, on the Advisory Board at the Louisiana Culinary Institute, and on the board for the American Red Cross's Capital West Chapter as well as participates in many annual charity events. Ducote has made a name for himself, especially when it comes to all things sizzling on a grill and ever the entrepreneur, he has a line of sauces and rubs that can bring his outdoor style to any Sea Island Forge Kettle, something he enjoys cooking on at his home in Baton Rouge.
Do you have a grilling or campfire memory that started your love of outdoor cooking?
I grew up in hunting camps of South Texas, going to deer hunting camps with my dad. We’d cook over open mesquite fires, cooking steaks, potatoes wrapped in foil, or ribs or pork. I’ve always loved the outdoors.
What’s one meal that really shines on your SIF Kettle?
One thing I love to do is to cook a variety of items on the SIF Kettle at the same time. There is always room for a variety of proteins and veggies providing that pop of color.
What is something you’ve cooked on the SIF Kettle that surprised you?
I love the griddle accessory that goes over an open fire. There’s enough room for pancakes for 30 people, and breakfast over an open fire is a wonderful thing. Get an attachment (Side Kick) for a coffee kettle, and it’s even better.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
I love outdoor cooking. My first cookbook is coming out in September, and I really cut my teeth cooking at LSU tailgates, cooking outside with big cast iron cauldrons, grills, deep fryers. I like being outside, being in that environment versus being in a kitchen.
What type of wood do you like for your SIF Kettle?
Pecan. In Louisiana it’s readily available and it goes really nicely with a lot of food. The Texas part of me likes mesquite too.
What’s something tricky about open fire that the average cook needs to know?
You’re going to lose so much more heat than you realize. You just don’t have the convection, but the SIF Kettle Heat Dome can keep some of that heat. Lots of the time, when you’re over an open fire, the bottom of something can be charred, and the top will be raw or undercooked. Pay attention to your hot zones and the nuances of the fire. The nuances or tricks are really what I love about it. It’s not a “set it and forget it” type of cooking.
What’s your favorite element of the SIF Kettle?
For me, it’s that grill. That’s the accessory I wouldn’t be without. I love how easy it is to adjust, and the size of it. It’s exactly what you want for control, and it looks really cool with that wooden handle.