Jay Ducote is an expert hugger and a big teddy bear, but don’t underestimate his culinary chops. As a Baton Rouge local, Jay has been eating, drinking, and cooking with some of Louisiana’s finest ingredients for years. This Sunday, however, Jay will be competing on a stage far larger than he’s been on in the past. Jay is a contestant on Season 11 of Food Network Star on the Food Network.
If you’ve never seen the show, it’s a media-based culinary competition where contestants will be forced to undergo rigorous challenges; they are judged on their creativity, cooking abilities, as well as their on-camera charisma. The judges include the likes of Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Duff Goldman, Sunny Anderson, and Richard Blais, and the ultimate winner of Food Network Star will receive his or her own cooking show on the Food Network. Past winners are now household names, such as, Guy Fieri, Aaron McCargo, Jr., Jeff Mauro, Melissa d’Arabian, and Justin Warner to name a few. So, basically, this is a big stage for Jay. I’ve watched Food Network Star for years, and am very excited to see a familiar face on screen.
Jay is rapidly taking over culinary media. He is currently the owner of the site BiteandBooze, a food and drink blog that highlights Louisiana food, wine, and spirits. He also does a radio show called Bite and Booze Radio Show where he discusses local food, bars, and events in the Baton Rouge area. If that weren’t enough to keep him busy, Jay is also coming up on the first anniversary of his barbecue sauce launch, called Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and has recently released a vintage of wine in connection with Landry Vineyards, a Blanc du Bois. I asked Jay how he has time to date with his busy schedule. He explained, “I find that these days it’s perhaps difficult to find time.” He’s been to several restaurants multiple times, so when he finds the time to date, he explains that he would rather help a lady choose a restaurant than to simply choose one he’s been to a dozen times. Jay says, “I’d rather help her pick somewhere unique for her.” And they say this breed of gentleman no longer exists? Pfffffttt. Jay is certainly keeping southern gentlemen proud.
In the past, Jay has appeared on Cutthroat Kitchen (also on the FoodNetwork) and Master Chef (which aired on Fox). We discussed how Food Network Star compared to his experience on Cutthroat Kitchen. He explained, “Cutthroat kitchen was definitely a different experience but I knew exactly what I was getting into in that there would be those kind of sabotages…With Food Network Star, I had no idea what to expect…But just being there and being in the moment and having to react so quickly on your feet to whatever the challenge might be was certainly intense and very challenging.”
Jay’s journey to becoming a contestant on Food Network Star began back when the show was casting for Season 10 in New Orleans. It didn’t work out at that time, so Jay wanted to try again for Season 11. However, he was unable to make it to the nearest casting session in Dallas. You can imagine with that infectious personality and radiating southern charm, The Food Network was still thinking about Jay after his Season 10 audition. When casting began for Season 11, Jay got a call from the Network, and he was able to audition via Skype interviews with producers. Ultimately, Jay landed his spot.
This season Jay will be serving up dishes to some of the world’s most visible chefs. Seeing as how Jay’s background is hunting, fishing, and tailgating, I cannot imagine how daunting it must have been to serve Grillmaster Bobby Flay something from the grill. Jay tells me, “I certainly felt some pressure to make sure that I delivered my food to Bobby specifically…and I make [my food] pretty spicy sometimes and so grilling and layers of flavor and levels of spice are certainly right up Bobby’s alley, so that’s good in that he likes those things, but it could be bad if I don’t do those right.” When I asked Jay if Bobby Flay liked what he was served, he said, “I guess you’ll have to tune in and find out.” Well, that’s exactly what we will be doing!
At the end of the day, Jay is a Louisiana Food Ambassador. It’s a title I think many would quickly bestow upon him as he represents the state well. Go watch him on Food Network Star with me! It premieres this Sunday, June 7 at 9/8C on the Food Network. If you want to get interactive with us, we will be at the viewing party at Jolie Pearl in downtown Baton Rouge watching it with Jay in the Town Square. Come join! If you can’t make it, we will be live tweeting, so make sure to use the hashtag #GeauxJay so we can see your tweets!