Known as a television personality, cultural ambassador, cooking teacher, cookbook author, restaurant consultant, food writer, corporate spokesperson, and culinary innovator, Chef Patrick Mould has contributed much to the culinary landscape of Acadiana. For nearly a quarter of a century, the affable Cajun served as the executive chef for numerous restaurants in Lafayette including City Club at River Ranch, Café Jefferson, Café Vermilionville, and Charley G’s.
Active in developing, organizing, expanding, and promoting various aspects of Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, and founder of the new Acadiana Wine and Food Festival, Chef Mould is proprietor of Louisiana Culinary Enterprises. The foodservice company provides chef-driven culinary consultation, restaurant development and conceptualization, menu engineering, and food-related marketing services. He also produces and hosts his own weekly TV show, Cooking Up a Good Life, featuring Louisiana lifestyle, recipes, live music, and a cultural segment. He is beloved by many for his lively cooking demonstrations throughout the state, and offers online cooking classes.
The former corporate chef-spokesperson for Lou Ana Cooking Oil, Chef Mould is a man who can talk turkey, a useful person to know this time of the year. Among many products, he promoted Lou Ana peanut oil for turkey frying with live in-studio appearances from coast to coast. Some of the videos that were shot were made available to viewers on Yahoo Video, Google Video, YouTube.com, and Gather.com. Chef Mould had an annual column on turkey frying that was distributed to 10,000 newspapers nationwide; he also made appearances with his famous turkey techniques on several major networks including the Food Network, and on the NBC Today Show.
A very busy man who is in demand, I caught up with Chef Mould and asked him about his various festivals, projects, and the art of making the perfect fried turkey for Thanksgiving.
Please tell me about your involvement in Festivals Acadiens et Créoles and how it has evolved over the past few years.
Seventeen years ago, there was an article in one of the local weekly newspapers that deemed the festival, “What Hot Not,” and I got a little frustrated with the analogy because to me, it is the grandfather of all Cajun and Creole festivals. I always enjoyed attending, so I decided to approach Barry Ancelet, one of the founders of the festival, about doing a workshop tent. It started off in a 10×10-foot tent, and I would grab musicians off the stage and interview them. It was like “Up Close and Personal” a la Howard Cosell. And from there, it grew to a 20×20-foot stage, then I moved it to one of the large pavilions, then to a 60×60-foot tent until it evolved into a full-blown stage. And that was always the vision I had. Like Jazz Fest, which is another favorite festival of mine, I envisioned we would eventually have multiple music venues. Today we have three music venues, a workshop tent patterned after the original tent I set up, a chef’s demo stage, a reinvigorated children’s area, as well as the Bayou Food Festival, and the Louisiana Crafts Fair, all in the same park. So our footprint has grown substantially over the years.
What is your involvement with the Acadiana Wine and Food Festival, and will this be an annual event?
Probably the only festival we don’t have covered in the area is an official wine and food festival, which is rather ironic, considering that food is such a way of life here. Combine that with the fact that Lafayette has a very vibrant culinary scene with a lot of talented chefs. The University Art Museum did one a couple of years ago, but it struggled to find an audience and they only did it for one year and skipped last year. So I approached Mark Tullos, the museum director, about my getting involved. And because of the experience I have gathered putting on Festivals Acadiens et Créoles and my experience as a chef running restaurants and catered events, I have the ability to see the big picture but also, what would be the potential for the growth of this sort of event. So I am starting off with just a two-day event. This will include a wine dinner featuring six chefs and six wines on Friday night; a series of food and wine presentations on Saturday afternoon; and the Saturday night Grand Tasting featuring over 150 wines, spirits, cordials, and beers from Glazer’s Distributors portfolio.
You have appeared on numerous regional and national television shows demonstrating how to cook a fried turkey. Could you give me some tips?
There are several mistakes people make when they fry a turkey. First, they don’t have the proper amount of oil in the proper pot. It should not take more than three gallons of peanut oil to fry a turkey in the right pot. The second mistake is not making sure the turkey is completely defrosted before cooking it. Third, it is important to maintain the proper temperature throughout the entire cooking process, which is 350 degrees. And if you are frying multiple turkeys, you should allow the temperature to come back to that 350-degree mark before dropping another turkey into the pot.
What are some of your own family traditions for Thanksgiving?
Frying turkey, what else? But seriously, as a professional chef, what I love about Thanksgiving is that you get back to comfort food. It’s all about having those dishes year-in and year-out that aren’t necessarily fancy, but bring a level of comfort to the dining process. Our biggest Thanksgiving tradition is the turkey gumbo that is made the next day with the leftover turkey carcass.
Do you have any favorite dishes you like to prepare for the family each year besides your famous fried turkey?
I love cornbread dressing, but I always make sure I have an intensely rich stock that adds a depth of flavor. And I always love to make an oyster dish because it is that time of year. I also like to make a good old traditional green bean casserole, prepared with fresh green beans and not cooked to death!
What is the best thing about being a chef in Acadiana and living in Lafayette?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Simply put, I think it is just the significant amount of culture we have here that allows any artist, whether you are a chef, a musician, or a visual artist, to draw inspiration from. My cooking is inspired by the music I hear, the day-to-day vibe I feel from living here, by the abundance of ingredients in our pantry, and the centuries of culinary history I have to draw on. I have said for years that the rest of the country is white bread in comparison to Louisiana!