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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

< Back to Oral History project: Southern Gumbo Trail


Kerry Boutté

Kerry Boutté grew up in the small town of Arnaudville, eating his French-speaking mother’s Cajun cooking at every meal and, later, working at her restaurant, the Teche Drive-In. He went on to become a butcher, a restaurant worker, and finally a restaurateur himself. When Kerry opened Mulate’s, in 1980, he branded it “a Cajun restaurant,” which was an innovative term in those days, before Cajun culture became a hot commodity. He developed a menu of familiar Cajun dishes—fried seafood platters, jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo—and staged live Cajun music every night. Both Mulate’s locations (the original in Breaux Bridge, now run by Kerry’s ex-wife, and a second location in New Orleans run by his daughter, Monique) remain deeply Cajun today­—in décor, in music, and in gumbo. Kerry’s own gumbo-cooking style reflects his mother’s, whether he’s basing the dish on seafood or on chicken and sausage: a rich, peanut butter-colored roux, rice served on the side, filé sprinkled on top to taste, and absolutely no celery.

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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