One Luling resident’s love of cooking has inspired him to spice things up in kitchens all over the world.
Shawn Ledet created his own spice blend, Cajun Smoke, in 2015. Since then he has perfected the recipe, mass produced his product, worked to get it stocked on grocery store shelves around the country and even shipped some to Germany.
“Being a true Cajun, my mom taught me how to cook when I was 12 years old,” he said.
When he had a family of his own to cook for, Ledet said he grew tired of having to stock and utilize so many different individual seasonings.
“There was a lot of them,” he said. “My whole cabinet was just full of every spice. It kind of got to be a pain, so that’s when I decided to do something just for myself. I started blending ingredients together until I came up with my own special seasoning. I gave it to my neighbor to try, and they said I should bottle it … so I did.”
That seasoning later became known and sold as Cajun Smoke.
“The main thing is that I didn’t want a lot of salt in it like some Cajun seasonings,” he said. “I was always taught that you can always add salt, but you can’t take it out. With the support of my wife, we made it a business. I created all the labels and the logo.”
Ledet and his family – wife Luciena and three children – worked as a family to create and later market and sell the low sodium and all-natural product on Facebook and at farmer’s markets.
“When it started selling really good in farmer’s markets, we started selling it in stores,” Ledet said. “The first place was Majoria’s.”
After becoming available in various supermarkets, including Rouses, Ledet said the product took off. It can now be found at many retailers, including River Road Market, Heberts, Frank’s Supermarket, Cajun Fresh Market and Seafood Pot.
“It’s been a long road,” he said. “It took a year just to get into the local Rouses.”
The seasoning company is, for now, a part-time job for the Ledets. Shawn said he would love to continue to grow the company until it is something he and Luciena can do full-time.
In addition to Cajun Smoke, the Ledets has also created complimentary products to go along with their seasoning offering.
“Now we have, on top of the seasoning, two packets we came out with a year ago,” he said, explaining a Cajun BBQ shrimp and swamp dip packet.
“In 40 minutes you’re eating BBQ shrimp like you’re in a restaurant,” he said of the BBQ shrimp packet, adding the couple has also formulated but not yet produced a seasoning they call Sweet and Sassy. “It’s the same thing as Cajun Smoke but with white and brown sugar … it’s for pork or anything you want to little sweetness too.”
Ledet said the couple is also thinking about adding a seafood boil and fry mix to their line of products.
While the coronavirus pandemic has halted in-store demonstrations and festival sales for the company, Ledet said word of mouth has played a major role in the spice’s success.
“It’s expensive to advertise, so it’s mainly been word of mouth,” he said. “The kids help with with things … it’s really a family business.”
For more product information, visit cajunsmokeseasoning.com.