The Southern Kitchen | Chef Logan Boudreaux
Logan Boudreaux, executive chef at Cinclare in Thibodaux, graduated from the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University just under two years ago, but in that short time, the Lockport native has already had a whirlwind career.
Most recently, he saw himself named a 2020 Chef to Watch by as one of Louisiana Cookin’ – an honor that recognizes up-and-coming talent in Louisiana’s culinary industry.
“It’s extremely surprising [and] humbling. It all comes back to how long I’ve been doing this at Cinclare. It’s only been a couple years now,” Boudreaux says. “It tells me I’m doing something right…As chefs, you always kind of doubt what you’re doing and [your] plates and if people will perceive them the right way, but it tells me to keep on doing what I’m doing.”
Boudreaux graduated from CJFCI in Dec. of 2018 after starting at Nicholls in the biology program, believing at the time that he wanted to be a teacher. In between majors, he spent a year as a cook at a local golf club in Raceland. His love of that job is ultimately what inspired him to return to Nicholls and pursue a culinary degree.
“The more I was there, the more I just loved it. It brought back a lot of memories of cooking with my grandmother, Grandma Boudreaux, in her small, tiny kitchen with no A/C,” Boudreaux laughs. “Cooking brought back a lot of good memories for me. I can’t say it was my first passion, but I can definitely say I found it along the way.”
Boudreaux began at Cinclare four years ago when his close friend, roommate and longtime CJFCI classmate Crystal Lachney, who had been offered a job at the then-unopened restaurant, encouraged him to work there. Boudreaux says the pair had always dreamt of cooking together in a professional setting.
Boudreaux says that he and Lachney were given immense freedom to be creative with their dishes under the direction of the executive chef at the time, Quinnton Austin.
When Austin left Cinclare to move to California, Boudreaux and Lachney were offered co-executive chef positions, allowing them to run the kitchen together.
“Through the years, we proved ourselves through plates, and it was just a creative envelope that we were pushing the first couple of years together,” Boudreaux says.
Lachney has since moved on from Cinclare, but Boudreaux now remains as the restaurant’s executive chef.
He credits his culinary abilities to a long line of strong cooks in his family, as well as memories of time spent experiencing food from other cultures in Venezuela, where his family lived for a year due to his father’s work.
“That trip to Venezuela that we took…the food was just so different, just the different products from America and the quality of products is completely different. You end up trying cheese that hasn’t been pasteurized and milk that hasn’t been pasteurized,” Boudreaux says. “Being over there, things were so flavorful, and there’s still, to this day, memories of food and eating over there.”
With the restaurant changing its menu several times a year, Boudreaux estimates that he’s created thousands of dishes over the course of his time at Cinclare, making it nearly impossible to pick a favorite.
However, he says there’s nothing like cooking with Louisiana seafood.
“There’s no better place for seafood than South Louisiana. I’ve eaten seafood in France. I’ve eaten Pacific [and] Atlantic seafood, and we have some of the best, truly,” Boudreaux says.
Serving as the executive chef of a beloved establishment has its challenges, Boudreaux says. Since the chef is not typically the person cooking the food itself, he says it can be difficult to take his vision for a dish and have a crew create it.
The challenge goes hand-in-hand with the most rewarding part of his career, though, which is leading a team to create dishes that resonate with customers.
“Getting to know some of the regular customers that we have in the building and how loyal they are to the establishment, they have full faith in what you do,” Boudreaux says. “You never know when that plate you created might be the best thing they’ve had all month, all year. Just hearing that from people is extremely rewarding.”
Boudreaux says his journey to where he is today did not come without hard work, creativity and continuous learning – learning that even took him overseas to study in France.
For aspiring chefs, his advice is to first recognize the amount of hard work that goes into such a career. He also encourages them to put themselves out there in the kitchen, ask professionals questions and take advantage of every opportunity to get experience.
After all, he says the key to being a successful chef is the drive to learn.
“It’s everything that doesn’t have to do with food: knowing how to push yourself in a work environment, how to be a good learner, and one big important thing is to learn classic dishes and classic ways of presenting food,” Boudreaux says. POV