On the Menu

Graham slam

by Mary Tutwiler

George Graham’s culinary blog, Acadiana Table, is nominated for an international award.

There is no doubt that George Graham’s food blog, Acadiana Table, is the envy of every food writer in Cajun Country. Beautifully researched and photographed, each weekly installation tells the story of a Cajun or Creole dish that can be found in kitchens across the region.

Begun two years ago, in January 2013, the blog instantly caught the eye of the public and caused a local buzz. That attention swiftly leapt to a national scale, when Acadiana Table was chosen as a finalist in Saveur magazine’s 2014 food blog awards.

This spring, Acadiana Table is again on an awards short list, this time for best Narrative Culinary Blog in the International Association of Culinary Professionals awards.

Graham has gone global.

“I feel very honored, and Acadiana’s food culture should be honored,” says Graham. “It’s amazing how intrigued the world is with what we have here. Cajun Creole culinary tradition fascinates people,” he says. “Our incredible food culture is on the national radar screen, and has ignited attention to the blog.”

Graham says his site is visited by more than a half a million viewers a year.

George Graham is best known in Acadiana for his advertising agency, Graham Group. His friends also know him as a consummate cook, who with his wife, Roxanne, loves to entertain around his table. He comes by this honestly.

Born into a restaurant family in his native Bogalusa in 1950, he learned at his father’s knee at Acme Café (which closed in the 1980s). After receiving his degree in marketing from Southeastern Louisiana University, he was hired as marketing director for Chart House Inc., a publicly held restaurant corporation based in Lafayette. Graham Group was founded in 1979. In 1990, Graham was a partner in opening Hub City Diner. While no longer involved in the restaurant, he is proud to say this year is the restaurant’s 25th in operation.

Food and cooking is a passion for Graham that shows itself in the quality and consistency of his latest project, Acadiana Table. “When I began, I looked at other blogs. The really good ones had a consistency of look, feel and art. And there was a sequence to them, you could depend on them to be published regularly.” Acadiana Table comes out promptly at 8:30 a.m., each Monday morning (it’s also published in print in The Daily Advertiser).

The Grahams: Roxanne, George and Lauren

The other aspect Graham noticed was a narrative voice. A natural story teller, Graham talks about culture, culinary history, location, tradition and, of course, his Cajun bride, Roxanne:

Rox can make a roux.

As deep and dark as blackstrap molasses and just as rich.

My wife Roxanne doesn’t cook every night nor does she profess to be a culinary artisan, but she is one of the best natural cooks I know. For her roux, she follows a strict set of guidelines handed down from generations of good Cajun cooks before her. She was born and raised in Jennings, and I sometimes tease her that her grandmother’s black iron pot and well-worn, wooden gumbo spoon were her dowry. Truth be told, to her they are significantly more valuable than anything money could buy.

Cajun Catfish Courtbouillon
Photo by George Graham

The most recent post, Cajun Catfish Courtbouillon, March 9, is an homage to his mother-in-law, Rosalie Fontenot Waldrop, and Cajun Lenten traditions.

Clearly Acadiana Table is a labor of love. “I’ve been jealous of the creatives in the ad agency,” Graham jokes. For the blog, Graham does all of the work himself: planning, cooking, food styling and photography. However, he has handed over 21st century social media to the expert in the family, his daughter: “Lauren, a senior at LSU, handles Instagram and Twitter.”

Winners of the IACP awards (the nominees include another Acadiana native, Donald Link, in the American Cookbook category, for Down South) will be announced Sunday, March 29.