Clement Bourg is proof positive that Cajun is a state of being and a way of life, not just some place from Louisiana. Clement is the grand poobah of Cajun Heat, an expanding company that now features products that include a spicy rub, hot sauce, mustard, wing sauce, and more. We were first introduced to Cajun Heat through one of their most-known products, Voodoo Ash, and it is one we heartily recommend. Since first trying Cajun Heat products 18 months ago, we were more than happy to try some more and to find out a little about the company and the man behind stuff.
Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you got into the spicy foods business.
I’m a New Orleans native and grew up eating (at the time) what I considered spicy foods. The job market led me to Northern VA where I quickly missed my grandma’s home cooking so I started to experiment with different sauces trying to capture the essence of New Orleans in a bottle.
After awhile I had a sauce that I was pleased with and would use habitually. Slowly friends started asking for bottles so I started making small batches.
I started thinking about retirement and have always wanted to own a restaurant and thought what would be better then a restaurant where the sauces and spices used were my own creation? Cajun Heat is years in the making and has years to blossom. With 17 years left of Federal service I am taking my time ensuring nothing is rushed and all products stand up to my high standards.
The values, skills, and leadership traits I’ve learned as a U.S. Marine are keeping me focused and goal oriented. This endeavor will be slow and steady but I will be victorious.
When you think of Cajun food, what things come
first to your mind? Did you grow up eating those sorts of foods?
first to your mind? Did you grow up eating those sorts of foods?
The very first thing that comes to mind is boiled seafood followed by a good gumbo. It’s very common for families and neighbors to get together and boil a sack of crawfish or a bushel of crabs. Of course, you can’t forget the trimmings; potatoes, sausage, and corn all boiled with the seafood.
You’ve been to the Weekend of Fire show a couple of times now. What other shows have you attended, and what’s been your take on the show experience as a vendor?
The Weekend of Fire is the only show I’ve attended as a vendor. I have a full time job which requires me to work weekends so getting away is not very easy. I’m planning on attending the Weekend of Fire again next year as well as the New Orleans show if they have it again.
Vending a show is tough; Sales is not a strong attribute of mine and that’s really the whole point. I’ve learned quite a bit from each show so progress is being made. As long as I’m having fun all will go well.
Which of your products is your most favorite, and what would you say about it to someone who’s never tried it or wasn’t sure they would like spicy food?
Voodoo Ash, which was a complete accident, is my personal favorite. It complements any meal or snack. I personally use it on virtually everything. I add it to pickles, eggs, French fries, grilled pork & corn, grits, popcorn, dips, veggies etc. The great thing about Voodoo Ash is you control the heat level. If you don’t like it quite as spicy then don’t add too much. If you Eat Like A Freak® then you’ll probably cover your meal in it.
Are you a fan of crawfish boils, and do you “suck the heads?”
ABSOLUTELY! I’m a fan and I suck the heads. People think you’re sucking the brains of the crawfish but really, if you’re doing it right, you’re only sucking the boil from it. I hold at least one crawfish boil a year here in VA. I usually get 3 to 6 sacks and boil them myself along with the trimmings. I have three 100 qt pots and three jet burners that I use to get the job done.
Next year’s boil will be even more exiting as I have finally created my very own seafood boil. No more adding cayenne pepper to spice up a pre made boil. Cajun Heat’s seafood boil is all the seasoning you’ll need for a great boil.
Since we know that you’ve released some new products since we last reviewed your stuff, tell us a little about your creative process with those.
There’s a lot of trial and error, as well as a lot of pain. I already know what flavor I want, Cajun. The issue is tweaking that flavor ensuring not one ingredient is too strong within the sauce. Most days spent in the kitchen revolve around creating sauces and then trying sauces, then tweaking sauces, creating more sauces, trying more sauce and so on. I utilize the guys I work with as a tasting group. It’s very easy to move forward when you’re getting feedback from 100+ people. I really encourage them expressing what specifically they do not like about the sample.
The most painful sauce created so far was the Cajun mustard. I spent months tweaking the recipe trying to get it just right. Most of guy’s trying it like it just fine, but I wasn’t happy and I can’t put my name on a product that I’m not going to enjoy.
The Cajun mustard is also the most painful to produce. A full MOPP suit is needed for my protection. My MOPP gear is NOT a costume.
What has meant more to you thus far, and why…the types of critical success/awards or your business success? What goals have you set for Cajun Heat for the future?
Awards are nice, but they’re very subjective in that not everyone competes or puts up all of their products. I will not be competing in any awards this year. To the average person, it would suggest we lost when in reality we didn’t compete. The exposure is good but the cost associated with the contest are not productive.
The final end game as previously stated is to have a small manufacturing facility with a restaurant in front located in New Orleans. I want Cajun Heat® to become the next Tabasco®. It will take time but I believe we have a superior product and will eventually become a household name.
What sorts of new stuff are you cooking up for release in the near future?
I intend to have a full Cajun condiment line. I will use the Weekend of Fire again, as my unveiling of new products next year, which will be a Cajun BBQ sauce and a mild Cajun sauce. This sauce is intended for the masses, not chili heads.
Products and our quick review:
Fiery Cajun sauce: cayenne peppers, vinegar, cajun spices, salt
Fiery Cajun is a cayenne based sauce that will provide you with the flavors of New Orleans with a kick, just not as much as our Liquid Napalm. Use this hot sauce as a marinade, a base, or simply use it as is.
I really got very used to using the Liquid Napalm sauce, so this sauce reminds me a lot of that one…but toned down in some ways but ramped up in others. From a heat perspective, it’s a bit more accessible to people with a heat level around 5.5/10 or so. The base cayenne is flavor is good, but it is simply LOADED with the Voodoo Ash seasoning. In what is likely to be a running theme with these products, the extra spices pollute the base flavor more than desired. All those seasonings that come at the end of the ingredients list should accentuate, not dominate, the flavor. Another down-check on this sauce is that it seems a little salty too me as well. I really wanted to like this sauce, but it falls a little short for me. It definitely has some uses, and I use it on foods that are REALLY bland and it seems to pair well with certain items. However, in widespread use, it needs some tweaks to make it better.
Mercy Beaucoup wing sauce: vinegar, habanero peppers, water, soybean oil, cajun spices, salt
Mercy Beaucoup is a wing sauce with a Cajun twist.
The sauce comes in a big 12-ounce bottle with label issues. While the coughing/choking chicken is funny, it lacks a level of sophistication that will get more widespread product placement. An alternate label would do the trick in that regard. The first thing I noticed about the sauce itself was the separation of the soybean oil from the rest of the sauce, as it floats on a layer on top of the sauce within the bottle. I generally dislike to see sauces that separate on standing, it makes sense given the water used in the sauce. Oil plus water = not mixable. The sauce is pretty thin, with a lot of particulate spices floating in the mixture. The aroma is heavy with vinegar and spice, and somewhat fragrant for a wing sauce.
Before using this sauce on wings, I used it as a simple dipping sauce. While I enjoyed the habanero taste, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the black pepper in the sauce. It’s obvious that the “Cajun spices” is mostly the Voodoo Ash seasoning, which is very peppery. This sauce could halve the amount of that spice used and still have plenty of pepper flavor. It’s also a bit thin. Most of the vinegar-based wing sauces are thin, but those are usually made using vinegar plus a simple Louisiana-style hot sauce. This sauce strives for more than that, so a little more viscosity would do wonders for getting the sauce to stick to food a little better.
As has been in some other reviews, I consider this sauce to be a work in progress. It has a good base, but many areas (separation, amount of pepper, thinness) need to be addressed to increase the overall quality to give this a better chance of being successful in the competitive wing sauce market.
Fire on the Bayou Cajun mustard: water, yellow mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, cajun spices, brown mustard, salt
Fire on the Bayou, not to be confused with a creole mustard, is a CAJUN MUSTARD. Seasoned with Voodoo Ash and brown sugar it makes a great all around deli mustard.
On the surface, this sauce has a lot going for it that are positives for me. It’s a brown mustard, it has Cajun seasoning, and it comes in a big 9-ounce container that guarantees many uses of the product before you run out of it. After saying that, my assessment sorta went downhill after that. The label is way too busy and the graphics are quite pixelated. The mustard itself really caked up on the inside of the glass container. I had to scrape mustard paste off the metal lid and mix it into the sauce to “reconstitute” it before I could use it. Lastly, the mustard is so thin that it is scarcely comparable to other similar mustards. It is so thin that I would call this a “mustard sauce” as opposed to a more traditional mustard.
The overriding thing I can say is that it really does taste pretty good. It is spicy-sweet and has a delectable flavor that lends itself well to a variety of dishes. I found it to be a little thin for use as a regular condiment (it drains right off a hot dog, for example) but it worked well mixed into tuna and egg salads, as well as a bitchin’ addition to deviled eggs. I didn’t try this option, but the flavor profile would no doubt make your baked beans pretty tasty as well. Like the wing sauce reviewed above, this mustard could use some improvements as well…starting with the consistency and co-packing and including the label issues. Taste-wise, it’s a decent mustard and worthy of giving it a try.
Want to see what others have to say about these products? Check out these links: