Jim Gossen, the proprietor of Louisiana Foods in Houston, Texas, is the oldest of seven children, which means that his mother needed to cook with economy. One-pot meals, Jim calls them. A single hen could feed everyone, for example, as long as it was made into a gumbo. The family never ate in restaurants during his youth spent in the Lafayette area, but many of his siblings became passionate cooks, and Jim is no exception. After a long career in restaurants, Jim entered the wholesale seafood business. These days you won’t find him toiling behind a restaurant stove, but if you catch him at one of his homes (either in Houston, Texas, or Lafayette or Grand Isle, Louisiana), he’s likely to greet you with a pan of baked oysters, a slice of root beer-glazed ham, or hot biscuits brushed with melted butter. Jim has nothing against using store-bought roux for gumbo, except that your house won’t have that browned-flour smell. Jim’s stepson, Jeff Landry, an avid outdoorsman and an accomplished cook himself, had an appreciation for raw oysters by the age of four. To Jeff, gumbo is as much about camaraderie as it is about eating.
Date of interview:
June 15, 2008