Jeremy Langlois has been working in the kitchen since high school, when he started off washing dishes for chef John Folse.
Today, he's the executive chef for Houmas House's three restaurants — Latil's Landing, Dixie Cafe and The Carriage House.
Managing three restaurants is definitely a balancing act, but Langlois said he wouldn't want to do anything else.
And he still makes time to be a husband and father to two girls, as well as sleuthing out new pieces to add to his watch collection.
Why watches? Read on to find out. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us a little about your background.
I've been working at Houmas House (in Darrow) since 2005. I fell in love with cooking while working at chef John Folse's White Oak Plantation (now White Oak Estate and Gardens), where I started as a dishwasher in 1995 and loved working in the kitchen. I was promoted all through high school, and chef Folse gave me a full scholarship to his culinary institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
You are the executive chef for several operations at Houmas House. How do you balance them?
Each restaurant is different but fall under the umbrella of Cajun and Creole cuisine. Latil's Landing is our fine dining, multi-course dinner and wine pairing. Dixie Cafe is casual, featuring dishes like red beans and rice, sandwiches and a buffet. The Carriage House is our main a la carte restaurant with everything from a po-boy to a wagyu filet mignon. But all restaurants honor Louisiana cooking.
What dish did you create that you are most proud of? Why?
Our soup, "Bisque of Curried Pumpkin, Crawfish and Corn." It is what I'm known for, and I could never take it off the menu at Houmas House.
What do you splurge on?
I, unfortunately, have become obsessed with watches and have built up a small collection. It has become quite expensive. Watches remind me of culinary art. There is history, craftsmanship, regionality and artistry that go into creating a timepiece. You don't really need a nice watch, your cellphone can tell you the time. It's just like you don't need to have a five-course, fine-dining meal when you can just eat a sandwich. But both speak to my soul that there is something more to the craft.
Tell us what your mornings are like.
As a father of two you girls and a chef of a large operation, there is almost no free time, but I'm up every day at 6 a.m. I'm an avid reader. I enjoy some video games, and I try to make it to the gym five days a week.
What's your most relied upon kitchen tool?
Oddly enough, blue painter's tape. I use it to label and put little notes on everything. When I set up a station for Latil's, it has to be organized the way I like it, to be efficient.
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Do you listen to music in the kitchen?
My staff does. I do not. When I come on to the line, I make them turn that noise off like a grumpy old man.
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What's your description of the perfect meal?
The first time I took my wife, Theresa, to Daniel Boulud's Daniel in New York City. It was perfect.
Tell us about your biggest disaster in the kitchen.
Years ago, I was doing an event during Lent. The person who booked the event gave us an order of 86 steaks and 10 fish. They had the numbers wrong. It was supposed to be 86 fish and 10 steaks. All we could do was make a big batch of seafood pasta with what we had on hand to serve them.
Are you a movie fan? What is your opinion of Hollywood's portrayal of chefs?
I love movies. I love the original "Star Wars." We don't talk about the prequels, and I pretend the new ones do not exist. I also love "The Princess Bride," "Pulp Fiction," or anything Quentin Tarantino, and "Mad Max Fury Road." I'm not a fan of how chefs have been portrayed.
We know that you love being a chef, but what would your second choice "dream job" be?
No second job for me. This is all I know. If it doesn't work out, I guess I can be an Uber driver. I love everything about being a chef. It can be both an art and a craft. I love creating. I love how I can have an idea for a new dish, make it that day, and serve it and get reactions from our guests.