Last summer John Duos sent me some samples of his Cajun John's seasonings which I promptly turned over to my firefighting/grillcooking son to evaluate, because everything you've heard about firefighters' culinary capabilities is true. I didn't personally get to taste the seasonings until February when a low country boil came my way at a family get-together and it was about the hottest stuff I have ever tasted...and I'm a guy who routinely eats raw jalapenos! After some ice water and an exorcism, I had a second helping which was much more moderate leading me to believe the grillcook/firefighter was having a little fun at Old Pops' expense by loading me up a bit, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, in the store at this time we have the entire line of Cajun John's including: All Purpose Cajun Seasoning, Sweet and Sour BBQ Seasoning, and the one that nailed me, the dreaded Seafood Boil! Actually, all of these spice mixes, according to my son, are amazingly good across the board and ought to be in your cupboard ASAP and definitely before the real grilling season commences.
So now you have been introduced to the product and my connection to it. Now may I introduce you to Mr. Duos, whom I interviewed recently for this blog. John is 55 years old at this writing, created his spice mixes between '02 and '04, and mass marketed them in 2011. Like betting on the stock market, they say you can't really time some things, you just jump in and hold on! And besides, the real story began long before the Cajun seasonings business was even contemplated.
John Duos was born and raised in Louisiana. His father died when he was eight years old, leaving him with a mother, three French Cajun grandmothers, and four uncles on his mother's side whose influence should not be minimized. If I may interject - I was raised in a Finnish-American home and observed my mother making cheese amongst other ethnic foods in the kitchen...and I didn't learn anything! John was a little smarter. He not only learned from his mother in the kitchen, but also from those Cajun grandmothers, and the uncles (hunters, all) who could spice game on a campfire like you wouldn't believe.
Meanwhile at eleven years old John was driving dump trucks for his stepfather before moving on to backhoes and excavators and then on to welding and operating heavy equipment on oil rigs. Another interjection - Recently I read about the great jazz baritone saxaphonist, Pepper Adams, who became a professional musician after hearing other so-called professionals while in the military, and confidently knowing he could do better. Similarly, in his early twenties John Duos became the chef on an oil rig because he knew he could do better!
In 1988 John Duos moved to Georgia and began a career as a highrise waterproofer, rapelling his way down skyscrapers sealing leaks as he descended. John was also a motorcyclist and one day in 1996 while tooling down a divided highway, a box spring blew off of a truck heading his way and jumped the divider, effectively landing him in St. Joseph's Hospital for an extended stay followed by a lengthy convalescence at home. Thus we learn how one fellow's compound fractures could lead to the birth of a Cajun seasonings business.
Two final comments: Jake, the grillcook/firefighter, says Cajun Johns is not salty like similar products, and secondly, John Duos says life is 90% attitude and 10% what is happening so..."We all have the ability to make it a good day!".
This Friday between 5 and 8pm we are tasting reds from Italy, Chile, and Washington State. Please join us.