Dig Baton Rouge

Dining Out: Life after “Food Network Star”

Since appearing on the 11th season of Food Network Star and landing as its runner-up, life has been “crazy and nonstop” for the award-winning food blogger, radio host and chef, Jay Ducote.

“It’s certainly been good, but it’s just been a whirlwind of activity and new opportunities,” Ducote said. “It’s been a crazy adventure.”

These days, Ducote is doing quite a bit of traveling, making appearances, getting opportunities to speak at conferences and conventions, as well as cooking demos at different food and wine festivals. While it’s business as usual for him, his local celeb status has increased the demand for appearances.

“I was doing some of that before, but it’s certainly taken off since then,” Ducote said.

For Ducote, the time he spent on Food Network Star last summer was an experience of a lifetime, and he shared what he took away from being on the nationally syndicated show.

“The main thing that I took away was to really have more confidence in myself both in my cooking skills and just my ability to speak on camera or on stage or to represent myself in that way and to really gain the confidence to continue to push forward to build a brand and a business that I want to,” Ducote said. “I have a lot of opportunities right now at my fingertips and the confidence to just go for it.”

And go for it Ducote has. Since his appearance on the show, his culinary company Bite and Booze has grown from his one-man show to three employees. According to Ducote, one of the favorite things about his job is there is no average day. Some days he is busy cooking, or selling sauces, or writing food blogs, or hosting radio segments and launching new products. Having a free lifestyle helps invigorate him as his brand expands.

“The brand just continues to grow and grow,” Ducote said. “Maintaining is definitely a challenge. It has helped me build my brand, but as there’s been growth there has certainly been more responsibility as well, and that definitely adds up and is part of the challenge…but it’s the fun part of trying to grow something.”

Ducote’s products stand out with a Louisiana flare as they are sweetened with Louisiana sugar cane syrup rather than high fructose corn syrup. Ducote’s barbecue sauce was launched before his appearance on Food Network Star in 2014. To add on to his business, his newest product, Louisiana Molasses Mustard, was released this past Christmas.

“It’s been a cool journey launching another product and getting that out there,” Ducote said. “It’s done extremely well so far, and just having that extra product out there has been very good.”

According to Ducote, the next item in the works will be a barbecue dry rub, which is due to come out very soon.

Ducote also uses his celeb status to boost the local food and beverage community, whether by making local appearances, fundraising at charity functions or contributing products to silent auctions.

“The opportunities to be able to give back have taken off as well, and it’s something I really enjoy doing and try to help with as many people and charity events as I can,” Ducote said.

There are a few fun projects up on the horizon for Ducote, including the launch of the Celebrity Chef Series at Hollywood Casino on Saturday, March 19 at 2 p.m. and the Underground Supper Club, where Ducote cooks dinner for a group of people.

As far as handling his celeb status personally, Ducote enjoys being able to get to know his fans and have the opportunity to meet them in public. He really enjoys when people come up to him to say ‘Hi’ or when people tell him ‘Good job on the show,’ or they’re proud of how he represented Baton Rouge or the state of Louisiana.

“That part has been really fun, and it’s been a neat experience getting recognized in public and kind of having to deal with that side of the fame,” Ducote said. “It’s still kind of unreal that people even want that. It’s an honor really.”

Photo courtesy of Jay Ducote.

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