Two Family Legacies Combine at Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse

With gift-giving season on the horizon, consider something from this local culinary treasure

Poppy Tooker has spent her life devoted to the cultural essence that food brings to Louisiana, a topic she explores weekly on her NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! From farmers markets to the homes and restaurants where our culinary traditions are revered and renewed, Poppy lends the voice of an insider to interested readers everywhere.


To Jarred Zeringue, the purchase of Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse in LaPlace in 2016 was an act of cultural preservation.

Zeringue’s food is well known in the Crescent City, where for 15 years he operated the now shuttered French Quarter restaurant, Eat New Orleans. There, he utilized Wayne Jacob’s authentic Cajun meats in dishes like cracklin’ biscuits and tasso baked eggs.

Just off the main drag in LaPlace, Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse was established in 1950 by Nolan “Nat” Jacob and was the only place Zeringue’s grandmother, Mama Bell, would buy her meats. The smokehouse passed through Jacob family for generations until Jarred and business partner Matthew Moreland purchased the business in 2016.

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While many improvements were made to the property, Wayne Jacob’s original recipes and old-fashioned ways of doing things have remained.

“The wood comes from my dad’s farm,” he said. “We split it and cure it before making the fires. We do the butchering ourselves, stuffing sausage in small batches before smoking, just as it’s always been done.”

In the andouille capitol of the world, the thick sticks of heavily smoked andouille from Wayne Jacob’s weigh a full pound or more each.

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Zeringue’s family heritage reflects the blending of cultures found along the Mississippi in Louisiana’s river parishes where his family has lived, worked, and farmed since 1721. He grew up in Vacherie, Louisiana, thinking of himself as German, not Cajun. Different from the Cajuns who settled first in Nova Scotia, the Zeringues emigrated directly to Louisiana from Alsace, an area of France known for its Germanic influence.

Zeringue expanded the store’s offerings to include barbecue, beef jerky and hog’s head cheese. Jars of preserved figs, pepper jelly, fresh filé and dry roux line the store’s shelves. A freezer case is filled with sausage-stuffed chicken breasts, pork loins and chops. Whole smoked ducks are available seasonally. Frozen quarts of favorites like red beans, chicken andouille and seafood gumbos are also ready for home consumption.

From meatballs and spaghetti to butterbeans and shrimp served with fried catfish, daily plate lunches make Wayne Jacob’s a popular weekday spot. Not to be missed are the thinly sliced, fried andouille chips served with Creole mustard for dipping. Along with boudin available without rice, these unique items are a keto and paleo diet lover’s dream.

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Inspired by a box filled with family recipes left by his grandmother, this past May Zeringue published a cookbook titled, “Southern and Smoked, Cajun Cooking Through the Seasons” — a delicious and intimate look into his family’s culinary traditions. All the secrets to Mama Bell’s white bean and potato soup, turtle sauce piquante and crawfish bisque are included, along with advice about how to preserve seasonal flavors through canning and freezing.

The book is illustrated with fascinating family photos hailing from the late 1800s. While researching the family’s history at the Louisiana State Museum, Zeringue happened upon a cache of silver negatives that were discovered in an attic in the 1980s. The images are the work of professional photographer Olide Schexnayder, Zeringue’s grandmother’s first cousin. Wearing formal attire typical of the 19th century, his ancestors are depicted picnicking and fishing on the banks of the bayous in the summer. Rare ice floes can be seen on the frozen Mississippi River as family members pose near Edgard in 1899.
When Zeringue was a child, his family held a boucherie annually in early February. He has since revived the tradition, and those images are included. The day of the family gathering, relatives brought along photos of a 1950 boucherie held at a cousin’s house. Much to everyone’s surprise, Zeringue’s grandparents were in attendance that day, unmarried and on their way to a date in Donaldsonville.

With the holiday season approaching, Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse is ready to provide catering, and gift baskets are also available. The restaurant’s legendary andouille is fully cooked and available for shipping via Priority Mail nationwide. Add a copy of “Southern and Smoked” for an unforgettable gift redolent of Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse, a real Louisiana treasure!

Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, “Louisiana Eats!” Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.

 

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