Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 47 of 91

P aul Prudhomme, who died in 2015, was the youngest of 13 children. His parents were sharecroppers in Opelousas, La. "His mother basically ran a restaurant, feeding everybody," says Marty Cosgrove, the general manager at Magic Seasoning Blends, which Chef Paul founded in 1983. "They had a wood-burning stove and she'd stand him in the wood box and have him stir the pot, telling him, 'When it changes color you come and get me.'" That early experience led Chef Paul to become a line cook at various restaurants and resorts where he'd add his own blend of dried herbs and spices to dishes. In 1979, he opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans. When guests complimented his étouffée, for instance, he'd give them a bit of the spice blend to take home. "You should be selling this," they told him. He took that advice to heart and at first called the company Cajun Magic. It originally consisted of seven blends, including Poultry Magic, Seafood Magic, and Blackened Steak Magic. Chef Paul and his blackened redfish, among other special- ties, soon became an international sensation. "The media labeled it 'Cajun,''' Cosgrove says, "but it was basically poor man's cooking, with lots of rice to extend the meal. Within weeks, people were imitating it and doing it all wrong, burning things and calling it blackening." Cosgrove, also from Opelousas, began working with Chef Paul as a corporate chef in 1988 and traveled with him for cookbook sign- ings, television, and radio appearances, helping people to understand. Chef Paul also worked to persuade home cooks that they could use the blends on anything, not just gumbo, jambalaya, or étouffée. "Chef was always a teacher and always a student, willing to share his cooking techniques and recipes and stories with people," Cosgrove says. "Whenever we'd travel nationally or internationally, he was interested in what local people ate and what part food played in the makeup of the family. He was a loving, caring, soft-spoken man, the same demeanor off-camera as when he was on." After Chef Paul's death, Cosgrove had no doubt that Magic Seasoning would carry on. "He always surrounded himself with hard-working, dedicated people. We've done it for him." Lori Prudhomme, his widow, helms the company as president. Today Magic Seasoning offers some 35 blends, the newer flavors including Chipotle Chile, Citrus Herb, and Honey Barbecue. They are still manufactured in New Orleans and sold in more than 40 countries. "I think Chef's legacy was just that he wanted to make your din- ner better," Cosgrove says. "He never forgot where he came from." Paul Prudhomme Magic Seasoning Blends Lifetime Achievement 2018 FALL 2018 45

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