Home-cooked Cajun meals at JC and Company

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2016

 ENJOYING THEIR MEAL: From left, patrons Vicki Perez and Kathy Mason enjoy their meal of red beans and rice at JC and Company Cajun Restaurant in Picayune.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

ENJOYING THEIR MEAL: From left, patrons Vicki Perez and Kathy Mason enjoy their meal of red beans and rice at JC and Company Cajun Restaurant in Picayune.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

About 80 percent of people residing in Louisiana’s lower St. Bernard Parish are of Islenos heritage. Up until a few years ago, Bobbie Schmitt and her daughter Michelle Bergeron lived in the family-oriented parish.
They now live in the Picayune area and recently opened JC & Company Cajun Restaurant, which pays homage to their Cajun and Islenso heritage. Islenso means islander in Spanish, Schmitt said.
For about five years, they operated a snowball business in front of their home. However, when they added hot tamales to the menu, business picked up.
“After that, we started attending farmers markets in Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Laurel, Pearl River, Louisiana and Stennis,” Bergeron said.
The recipe for their ground beef tamales has been passed down for generations, she added. It is the pair’s most popular menu item.
“My family came here from the Canary Islands about 200 years ago,” Schmitt said. “We still live off the land, fish, trap and grow vegetables. My mom gave me the recipe for the tamales. She said, ‘I’m not getting any younger, if you want the recipe you better get it now.’’’
Many of Schmitt’s family are commercial fishermen and all of the seafood served at JC’s “comes straight from the boat,” she said.
Everything from the shrimp etouffe, roast beef poboys, the gumbo and jambalaya is prepared from scratch, Schmitt said. In addition to the time consuming preparation, the meals are infused with just the right amount pepper and Cajun flavor to leave the taste buds wanting more.
Patrons can order from the regular menu or choose the daily specials. Monday, patrons can choose red beans. On Tuesdays, lasagna and spaghetti are the featured special. Wednesdays, Schmitt serves chicken stew or hamburger steak, drenched in her homemade gravy. This recipe also belonged to her mother and she begins its preparation with a roux, she said.
The mother-daughter team both said they share a passion for cooking.
The food is not the only thing that reflects upon their heritage and home parish. The restaurant’s walls are dotted with driftwood, cattails, crab traps, cast nets and decorative wall hangings made from oyster shells.
Bergeron said it was her dream to open a restaurant and serve home cooked Cajun food for people.
“I want this to be big, something to be proud of and share with my children,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant that was a Christian homey place where people can eat and have good conversation.”
The name of the restaurant has Christian origins as well. The JC stands for Jesus Christ and company which is representative of the people that eat there, Schmitt said.
“Without him, I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “This is his establishment and I’m giving him the praise and worship.
I want everyone to learn to enjoy and appreciate Cajun food as much as I do.”
JC & Company is located at 3017 Hwy. 43 S. They are open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Closed Sundays.
They also deliver food within a five-mile radius of the restaurant, Schmitt said.
Beginning next week, Bergeron said they will be open for breakfast at 5 a.m.
Contact staff by phone at 769-242-0701.

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