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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Mark Callais

Mark Callais grew up around good cooking even more than most Cajun children do, because his parents had a catering business and his uncle ran a restaurant in Golden Meadow. As a young married man starting a family that would grow to four children, Mark paid the bills by working as a captain for an offshore supply boat company. Cooking was not in his job description, but he took control of the pots as soon as he realized that the many men who traveled south for work on crew boats did not possess the cooking skills to which he was accustomed.

To put it bluntly, “I really didn’t care for chicken pot pie,” he says. Instead, he fed his crews red beans on Mondays, white beans on Fridays, and other regional specialties in between—jambalaya, spaghetti, shrimp wrapped in bacon for Saints games.

Mark eventually moved into a PR job at M&M and C&G Boats, another offshore supply boat company, work that leverages his cooking prowess. Along the bayou, wining and dining clients in the oil business means taking them duck hunting by day and making gumbo on the company’s houseboat hotel by night. It means cooking jambalaya for 300 people, outdoors, in one cast-iron pot. It means developing your own spice blend à la Tony Chachere’s and distributing it as parting gifts.

M&M and C&G Boats is now known as C&G Boats.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen

Sara Roahen

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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