Walter Voorhies has cooked a lot of good things that many people in the Teche Area have enjoyed eating, whether or not they’ve known it. He’s been cooking for decades and helping others fulfill their culinary dreams — which could simply mean people that have a passion for cooking, or providing a temporary facility while they built a space of their own. Voorhies started in a small area behind the machine shop that has now grown into a commercial kitchen used for Uncle’s Barbeque sauce, pepper jelly, hot sauce and more. Delightfully the seasonal cranberry sauce, perfect for sandwiches and side dishes, is back in stock for holidays and gift giving. Yumm!
Walking into Walter’s kitchen this week for an interview with Fixin’ 2 Be Fit owner Angele Bulliard and Chef Hardie McDonald, another chef, Alex Patout, was finishing a day’s work. Patout and Voorhies work together to make custom andouille sausage, also used in the chicken and sausage gumbo made to order or for catering gigs. He not only uses Walter’s kitchen for his own custom orders of tamales, gumbo and crab patties, to name a few, but is responsible for introducing the F2BF owner to Voorhies.
On the counter the same day, Voorhies had six apple pies cooling with more in the making. His sister, Evie, was prepping green beans and more apples waited in a nearby basket to be made into pies. Private chefs are a treasure and Walter’s kitchen has been the incubator for many including the team building a new business model.
“Walter’s one of the first people I met when I moved to New Iberia,” Chef Hardie McDonald said. “Walter and my father-in-law are very good friends. They were friends growing up and have done business together. When I moved here, he said, ‘I want you to meet Walter Voorhies.’ I came to meet him and at the same time met my current landlord. I knew I was in the right place.Very positive.”
As head chef for the Fixin’ 2 Be Fit culinary team, the experience is complementary to a work philosophy McDonald started in New Orleans. His resume as chef includes Commander’s Palace in New Orleans as well as other restaurants in Acadiana. His wife’s family is from New Iberia and they wanted to move back home to raise their small children. The culinary diverse menu options at F2BF is a perfect place for growth for a man who founded a nonprofit organization in New Orleans that continues to help train food industry workers with practical applications.
Although the team shares the responsibility of the made-to-order dishes, McDonald is the professional chef. Bulliard, founder of F2BF, is technically the nutritionist planning the menus and meals that are balanced, appropriately proportioned and dietarily enjoyable. Bulliard is no stranger to the food industry.
“Small world story. My wife’s grandfather bought etouffee from Angele’s grandfather, taking it to New Orleans to sell,” McDonald said.
Both men are still living and enjoying the renewed relationship as they watch their descendants carry on the the family traditions.
Back In The Day
Bulliard is from St. Martinville and traces her culinary heritage to Peppers Unlimited, Evangeline Pepper Sauce and Cajun Chef spice company. In fact, the location being renovated to open sometime in 2020 as Fixin’ 2 Be Fit’s dine in or carry out, with a drive thru window, is the same building her father still occupies dating back to the Evangeline Peppers location.
Piece by piece the restaurant is being renovated bringing an excitement to the team. This week the large exhaust hood was purchased. If kitchen furnishings can bring that much excitement to the young company, imagine how much fun they are having planning menus for subscribing customers, now reaching up to 500 plus meals a week.
Early on Bulliard repeated dishes but found that customers weren’t interested in eating the same planned meals. Now the menu and dish combinations vary on a regular basis. Size proportions vary as well depending on the dietary needs of the customers. The collaboration keeps the menus interesting and fun for the preparers as well as the customer.
How Getting Fit Got Started
Bulliard wasn’t sure what she was going to do while attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she only knew that her interest was in nutrition and health.
“Chef Alex messaged me on Facebook and offered to help me with recipes, or anything. He introduced me to Walter’s kitchen,” said Bulliard.
The company started in May 2018, to help a friend loose weight.
“My friend said, ‘if I pay you to cook for me, will you help me lose weight?” Bulliard said. “Her first two weeks, she lost 15 pounds and time kept going on. She was a walking advertisement. She’d say call Angele, she’s meal prepping for me. Everything is cooked, weighed out and portion controlled for the individual in a microwavable container.”
Bulliard began working with her mother and grandmother cooking out of her home and delivering together.
The consumer dishes range in price by protein ounces and are served plus two measured sides of good carbs and veggies. A set menu each week is available for customers to choose what they want. A group of friendly drivers deliver. It’s not just weight loss but healthy lifestyle.