Business Monday: Roaring Cajun makes a stir with its soups, gumbos

When he was a chef at Clark’s Market a few winters ago, Braden Gastineau was impressed by the volume of soup the Aspen grocer was selling.

“I saw how much people were fighting over the soup, and I was blown away,” he said. “There were lines for the soup, and I was like, why are we running out of soup at 9:30 in the morning? That’s exaggerating, but they had one full-time person making soup.”

It was then that Gastineau, who was raised in Houston and moved to the Roaring Fork Valley four years ago, saw opportunity in the local soup business. In October 2019, he launched a business called the Roaring Cajun and since then has been delivering chowders, gumbos, stews and chili up and down the valley, as well as to folks in Montrose, Grand Junction, Steamboat Springs, Craig and Meeker.

Gastineau, 43, has been a one-person operation but that’s about to change. Given that he has been the salesman, bookkeeper, chef and deliveryman for Roaring Cajun, he’s expanding his staff to include two more drivers.

“We will deliver to houses also,” he said. “I do a $70 package: four quarts of whatever you want, no tax. I pay the tax.”

Gastineau — who lives in Carbondale, has an office in Glenwood Springs and a kitchen and warehouse in Paonia — doesn’t stop with soups.

He additionally makes jambalaya and etouffee — two cherished Louisiana dishes — and he can throw a crab, crawfish or shrimp boil, grill an alligator or prepare some smoked duck or wild-game sausage. He also makes red beans and rice, a New Orleans tradition, on Mondays and plans to add boudin to his menu. While Southern fare dominates his offerings, Gastineau said Marylanders appreciate his jumbo lump crab cakes.

These days his business is chiefly focused on delivering frozen soups in bulk by way of his Roaring Cajun delivery truck and trailer, a festive Louisiana-themed freezer on wheels. Delivery is a fairly easy process during the pandemic: He’ll just leave the soups at the front door and be on his way.

His daily routes are different, so Gastineau lets his customers know ahead of time when he’ll be in their area for delivery. On Thursday, he was in Aspen delivering food.

Visiting hunters and anglers lap up the soups, and he also counts auto dealerships among his clients. Guest and second-home owning Texans really appreciate his flair for Southern cooking, and Gastineau said they are some of his most consistent clients.

Gastineau also caters parties and fundraisers, which can be a bit trickier because of gathering limitations based on public heath orders. As rules keep relaxing, however, Gastineau said the demand for catering keeps growing.

Gastineau also has the background for what he does. He began working in the restaurant business when he was 16 years old at Landry’s Seafood in the Houston area.

“I then became a supervisor and worked my ass off,” he said, “and learned every position. That was when I first learned how to cook in a restaurant.”

Later Gastineau was formally trained at Fort Lauderdale Art Institute, made connections in the culinary hotbed of New Orleans where he dove deeper into Cajun and South Louisiana food, worked in Galveston and in country clubs in Houston, and picked up Colorado restaurant gigs in Cortez and Telluride.

His time in Colorado proved indelible: the state’s fresh fruits and handpicked vegetables had him hooked, leading to an executive chef post at Allegria in Carbondale, among other jobs locally.

“I was blown away and didn’t want to go home,” he recalled.

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