John D. Folse
Chef John Folse, born in St. James Parish in 1946, learned early that the secrets of Cajun cooking lay in the unique ingredients of Louisiana's swamp floor pantry. Folse seasoned these raw ingredients with his passion for Louisiana culture and cuisine, and from his cast iron pots emerged Chef John Folse and Company.
When Folse opened Lafitte's Landing Restaurant in 1978 in Donaldsonville, he set out to market his restaurant by taking "a taste of Louisiana" worldwide. In 1988, the Louisiana Legislature gave him the title of "Louisiana's Culinary Ambassador to the World."
Since 1989, Chef Folse has produced eight cookbooks in his Cajun and Creole series. "A Taste of Louisiana" is Folse's international television series produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting since 1990.
The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., opened in October 1994 and is dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana's rich culinary and cultural heritage.
Folse has received numerous national and international accolades. In 1990, the American Culinary Federation named Folse the "National Chef of the Year." In 1998, Food Arts magazine awarded Folse the "Silver Spoon Award" for his sterling performance and contributions to the food service industry. In November 1999, the Acadiana Chapter of the American Culinary Federation inducted Folse into the Louisiana Chef's Hall of Fame for his lifetime contributions to the promotion of Louisiana cuisine. In October 2008, Folse was awarded the Louisiana Governor's Cultural Economic Development Arts Award and Southern Foodways Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award.
Thirty years of culinary excellence later, Folse is still adding ingredients to the corporate gumbo he calls Chef John Folse and Company, which is as diverse as the Louisiana landscape, and he would not want it any other way.