Sometimes when life redirects us, it’s a blessing wrapped in a heart attack. Wes Landry had become a chef after working at some of the best-known restaurants in New Orleans, including Mr. B’s and Commander’s Palace. Two years ago, while working in Florida as a private chef on a 165-foot yacht, he discovered – the hard way – that “the chamber of his heart was wired weird.” In a coma for two months and in the hospital even longer, it was a very long road back, but while recuperating back in his native Delcambre dreams of cooking gave him a goal to work towards.
Now, Wes is co-owner of Cajun Element, with his fiancé Robyn Shepherd, making delicious pork, shrimp, and crawfish boudin along with other delicious specialty foods. Talking about the difference between his and other boudins, he says, “Mine has more meat than rice and I don’t grind the meat; I mix it with a mixer.”
He also makes some 20 varieties of sausages. Best sellers include muffaletta, blueberry syrup, jalapeno cheddar, andouille, chicken, and feta and sun-dried tomato. At any given time, four new flavors are rotated in, like his hot Italian or the pork and cabbage.
Wes has also come to be pretty well known for his burgers: cheddar and bacon, blue cheese and the popular steakhouse burger with roasted garlic, caramelized onions, and mushrooms. All are mixed with his own special seasoning blend, A1 and Worcestershire sauces.
Be sure to try the Cajun Element barbeque rub, Butt Love Rub, that Wes suggests putting on salmon, tuna, or shrimp and cooking in an air fryer. And the pepper jelly and seafood boil seasoning would complete a seasoning gift basket.
Growing up in a restaurant family, Wes says his greatest influences in the kitchen were his mother, grandmothers, and a grandfather. “We lived in the country and didn’t have cable TV, so on weekends we watched Paul Prudhomme and Justin Wilson,” he adds.
Looking to move production from his home kitchen in New Orleans to a commercial kitchen, he hopes to sell to restaurants soon.
In the meantime, he brings his delicious foods to farmers markets like Delcambre, where he sells some 50 pounds of regular boudin and 15 pounds each of shrimp and crawfish. “I get to see friends I haven ‘t seen in years,” he says of his time there on the first Saturday of the month. “The Delcambre market is way different from other markets that I attend in that it’s a small-town market with the shrimp boats; it’s covered and there’s live music. It’s like a little festival.”