What does a Louisiana cook do if there’s no boudin in the fridge?
If he’s Jay Ducote, he makes his own.
Quick thinking is a must on “Food Network Star” and has helped the Baton Rouge food blogger and radio host reach the top four in the competition series’ Season 11.
“It feels great,” Ducote says. “Certainly getting this far was a goal, so it’s great to accomplish that goal. I’d say the next goal, really, the big milestone, is making the top 3 and getting to film a pilot, which is what’s happened in seasons before.”
Ducote’s boudin dilemma came on last week’s episode at the start of a challenge in which the contestants had to make a holiday-themed dish in 45 minutes. Ducote’s choice was Thanksgiving, and for him that called for boudin-stuffed quail with cranberry-bourbon sauce.
He explained that his family of hunters has often spent the holiday at a deer hunting camp in Avoyelles Parish, and such a dish would be typical one on the table.
“I had to make my own boudin. I was able to get some ground pork and chicken livers and all the aromatics and rice and everything that goes into it,” Ducote says. “I found myself doing things like that a lot. When I made the andouille hash breakfast tacos, they did have the andouille in the fridge, so that was nice.”
Ducote has consistently infused Louisiana into his cooking on the show, such as the blackened fish and zydeco grits he also whipped up last week. His presentations have gotten positive feedback from judges and FN hosts Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay. He’s finished at or near the top among his fellow competitors each week, and has never been close to elimination. The judges send home one cook each episode leading up to the finale, when they’ll choose a winner who gets his/her own show on the network.
“So right now, I think it’s more anxiety because it’s so close that you can taste it, but not quite there,” Ducote says. “So this next week is a huge step. Certainly I feel like the pressure is just more and more. I don’t lose track of how well I’ve done, but it’s not over yet.”
Also still in the running to be the next “Food Network Star” are Washington, D.C., restaurateur Alex McCoy, Nashville mixologist Arnold Myint and former NFL player Eddie Jackson, of Houston.
“I think Eddie is a person I’ve looked at from the beginning as my biggest competition, and I still see that, even though he’s been a little inconsistent the last couple of weeks. I know he has it in him,” Ducote says. “He’s an athlete and he thrives under pressure. I don’t think he’s going to let the pressure get to him at the end.”
That pressure always includes a deadline element, and learning details of the challenge just before the timer’s set to cook.
“That part of it is real as far as when they tell us what we’re cooking and how quickly we start cooking,” he says. “Usually we have a couple minutes while they’re resetting the cameras and stuff to think about what we’re going to cook in our head before the challenge starts.”