Life & Work with Desi Bourgeois

Where does your story begin?

I was born and raised in Cut Off, Louisiana, South of New Orleans in Lafourche Parish. I had no idea that Ruston existed or how much of impact it would have on my life. I came to Ruston, to study architecture at LA Tech and ended up on a completely different career path.

I loved architecture, still do, and creating things with my hands. I took a job, working in the kitchen of Trenton Street Café in Downtown Ruston, to pay bills and have spending money. I was amazed at the people that I worked with and the pride that they took in their jobs. (All 80’s and 90’s pirate ship/ kitchen analogies applied to that crew) Much like we’re doing with Grown and Grazed and Staple Sandwich Co., at Trenton Street Café we made simple food with care. After a few years in the kitchen I realized that I didn’t want to keep pursuing an architecture degree that I didn’t feel I would ever use. 

I chose to leave for culinary school in 1996. I attended New Culinary Institute in Essex Junction, Vermont for a 2 year AOS degree in culinary arts. Culinary school and Vermont were amazing life experiences for me. I met great great people, chefs and mentors; made excellent friendships and learned how to thrive in a kitchen environment. Like most culinary graduates, I thought that I’d be working in a fancy restaurant or resort, but corporate dining is where I ended up. Not the most glamorous opportunity but a very educational one. I learned the business side of the hospitality game from 15 years of managing dining contracts and had the opportunity to work throughout the Southeast. 

My corporate dining career moved me to Austin with my wife, where I had the opportunity to work for Cirrus Logic and Google as Executive Chef of it’s Austin Campuses. It’s these 2 contracts that shaped my beliefs and ideas about how a person can impact their environments. during that time, my wife Dianne and I, decided that Ruston wouldn’t be a bad place to retire, so we bought a home with the intention of it being our retirement home. That changed when I was asked to consult on a project for Mayor Ronny Walker. That project was the seed for what we are currently in the process of bringing to life; Heard Freighthouse Food Park, an Austin style food truck park, with an outdoor stage and plenty of outdoor seating.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

If it were a smooth road, I’d be terrified. Every project, transition, new acquisition or transfer that I have witnessed or been involved in, had their bumps/pot holes. Grown and Grazed, Yolo Nitro, Staple Sandwich Co. and ultimately, Heard Freighthouse Food Park, have taken far longer and required more perseverance on my part, than anything that I’ve been involved with to date. It took 4 years of negotiating to finally be able to purchase the property from the city, 3 plus years working with our architects Studio Brooks Emory to come up with multiple options for accomplishing our end goal and working to secure funding so that we could have our builder of choice, Lincoln Builders join our project, only to be continuously delayed and pushed back.

We’re finally in the home stretch, we have a permit from the City of Ruston and we are in the final process of contracts with Lincoln Builders. In the end, we are going to get close to what we aspired to create, the rest is up to us. 

What does your work entail?

At the heart of it, I’m a people person! I grew up in the “live to eat” communities of South Louisiana, where everyone is worried about their next gathering and what’s cooking. That’s what I’m doing today, creating a place for people to gather and eat, while helping to build my local community’s food economy. 

My real hope is to serve great food, while connecting our customers to the people and places that provide our ingredients.

Grown and Grazed, our first food trailer, is what most people know me for. I put Grown and Grazed in Downtown Ruston in January of 2018, now I’m the guy that owns the food trucks. I like hearing that when people don’t know my name, because at least they make the connection. That connection lets me lean in and tell people what’s important to us and our future. 

The thing that’s sets us apart is that we care to buy local products, produce scratch made products and foster the idea that even a small operation like ours can thrive with the right attitude and support from it’s community. In order to get that support, you have to give yours first. 

What are some educational tools you look to?

love cook books, all of them! I use them for reference, inspiration and knowledge, On Food and Cooking, Harold Magee, I loved Sean Brock’s book Brock, Jesse Griffith’s The Hog Book and Afield are great books about food and environment and how chef’s can impact both. Koji Alchemy has been a recent influence as it pertains to fermentation and bringing really ancient fermentation knowledge to the masses. 

Podcast, Dave Chang, he’s all over the place food and otherwise, but his story and where he’s been and going are always great. Restaurant Unstoppable, Erik Cacciatore is an interview style podcast, where Erik interviews hospitality pros about their struggles and successes. His goal is to connect more people in the hospitality industry to each other through shared experiences and connections.

My network of people is my best resource. I have spent 30 years in this business and everyone that I have ever met has value to me, customers and co workers alike.  I always take the time to get to know what makes people tick.  

My real hope is to serve great food, while connecting our customers to the people and places that provide our ingredients.

Grown and Grazed, our first food trailer, is what most people know me for. I put Grown and Grazed in Downtown Ruston in January of 2018, now I’m the guy that owns the food trucks. I like hearing that when people don’t know my name, because at least they make the connection. That connection lets me lean in and tell people what’s important to us and our future. 

The thing that’s sets us apart is that we care to buy local products, produce scratch made products and foster the idea that even a small operation like ours can thrive with the right attitude and support from it’s community. In order to get that support, you have to give yours first. 

We’re finally in the home stretch, we have a permit from the City of Ruston and we are in the final process of contracts with Lincoln Builders. In the end, we are going to get close to what we aspired to create, the rest is up to us. 

Where can people connect with you online?

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