As students near the end of their college careers, they are expected to have their futures all figured out, but for Chef and Writer Jay Ducote, it would take completing a Master’s degree in a field he would never use before he found his calling.
“I really had no idea what I wanted to do next in my life,” Jay Ducote said.
Ducote attended LSU during two football national championships and a baseball national championship. While at LSU, basketball also made it to the final four, allowing lots of time to tailgate. That's where he initially fell in love with cooking.
“I learned how to cook throwing tailgate parties for LSU football and just enjoying my entire campus experience.”
That’s perfect for a lover of all things Cajun cuisine and BBQ.
“I really have just kind of found a way to pursue my passion through food and drink and celebrating Louisiana’s culture.”
Soon his cooking skills came to a boil and caught local attention. His popularity continued to simmer, and before Ducote knew it, he was filming the pilot for his own TV show on the Travel Channel called “Deep Fried America.”
“Writing, really I think, is really what helped lead me down this path because I was a food writer before I was a chef, before I was a culinary ambassador or anything like that. I was writing about food.”
The political scientist-turned-writer decided to combine all his interest and start his very own restaurant in 2019
“Gov’t Taco, the name came partially because it’s on government street, partially because Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana, so there’s a lot of government stuff. And partially it was me finally putting those degrees in political science to use doing something that everybody can agree on, which is tacos.”
There, he collabed his love for Louisiana cuisine, street food and BBQ.
“The taco, to me, was just like a critical element of this because it is basically a tortilla as the canvas to put whatever flavors for what i wanted to.”
The Clucks and Balances is Ducote's favorite taco at his restaurant.
"It’s the most southern of the tacos. Starts with our palmetto mac-and-cheese that we make here and yes, we do put mac and cheese on a taco, smoked chicken thigh that uses my spicy and sweet barbeque rub. Then, we take this white barbeque sauce, and we top it with some Nashville hot chicken skins. So, it is a little bit of smoke, a little bit of mac and cheese, a little bit of heat Nashville-style, a little bit of white barbeque sauce Alabama-style. All really awesome.”
Ducote’s story is not only entertaining but should serve as a comfort food of sorts to students who are still navigating their futures.
“I didn’t find that in college. I didn’t know I wanted to do this food stuff while I was in undergrad, while I was in grad school. It took me a little bit later in life to figure that out, but once I did I just kinda went for it.”
In the future, Ducote hopes to continue his mission of sharing and expanding the culture in Louisiana as well as communities he visits... one dish at a time.