This may not come as a surprise to the Wednesday Food & Drink page readers of The Daily Iberian, but if you missed the March 5 question and answer story by Dwayne Fatherree, you might not know — the new restaurant at the corner of W. Main and Jefferson streets, with the homemade signs in the windows, is owned by one of The Daily Iberian’s award-winning cooks. For years he has been a regular contributor to the annual Cajun/Creole Cookbook. Somehow I missed the earlier story so this past weekend when I walked into the remodeled eat-in or take-out restaurant, I was caught completely off guard. At the counter was Svitlana Boudreaux who greeted me like an old friend after her husband, Mark, waved hello on his way to the back. Still the V8-moment had not clicked in — until suddenly, I got it. Having eaten some of his creations and written stories about the couple in the past made the reunion even more special. Discovering a real smokehouse barbecue restaurant with seafood and other delights on the menu was a reason to tell their story, again. One question I forgot to ask during the interview was answered in the March 5 story.
What does the name Shashlik Grill mean?
My wife is from the Ukraine, and I have been to Russia myself several times. They do this barbecue, it’s like kebabs, and they call it ‘shashlik’ (pronounced shash leek).
How did this come to be?
The oil industry went into the tank. I never expected to open a restaurant, but when there was no work for consultants, we decided to do something different. I enjoy cooking — running a restaurant, I don’t know yet.
When was your official opening?
April 2 basically. We had put up signs all over the place that said we were open, then people would come in surprised and say, “Y’all are open?” We tried to work nights, but it didn’t work out, or until 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But what happens, it’s almost like a clock I can set. After 1:15 to 1:30 p.m. there won’t be another person walk through that door. We were sitting here paying personnel, nobody was coming in. For now we’ll just be open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We had the Coca-Cola sign on the trailer when we first opened up, but no one saw it. Now people know we’re here so it’s starting to increase.
Svitlana, how long have you lived here now and what part do you play?
I’ve been here six years. I like to work with people, I like the front and like to talk with people. I don’t like the kitchen, but I help. We go together, we need each other.
How did you come up with the menu, Mark?
I really wanted to cook just soups but we knew soups wouldn’t sell well all year. The next thing we thought of was real barbecue. Even people selling barbecue on the weekends don’t grill or smoke it. They broast it or cook in the oven with barbecue sauce on it. We’re cooking it slow on the grill.
What is the biggest challenge to restaurant ownership?
It’s hit or miss. One week you sell 48 chicken plates and the next week you sell five. It’s hard to plan like that. If we cook 48 chickens but no one comes, we’re stuck. So we had to move them into different dishes. We made chicken salad with the barbecued chicken, and it was really good. I came up with a new soup that they like, chicken tasso spinach soup, a creamy soup. People go crazy over it — it’s a killer. We get people once or twice a week asking why we don’t cook gumbo. If we were cooking big pots of gumbo and no one was eating it — we’ll do gumbo in the winter. I can make a pot of chicken tortilla soup every day and sell out everyday. Why people want that I don’t know, but they like it. (VB-The sample was very tasty.)
What about desserts?
We’re both making desserts. She makes Ukrainian cookies (VB-also very tasty), toffee and pralines. I just started making mini lava cakes and I make parfaits.
Tell me more about your customers preferences.
We do really well with bulk orders. We don’t do onsite catering but we do take orders for take out. One guy comes in regularly and is in oil field sales. He calls in an order, picks it up and takes it out to the rigs. As long as we know ahead of time, it works. What people don’t know about this kind of barbecue is that it takes time. You don’t cook it in a couple of hours. The brisket takes nine to 10 hours to cook, plus cutting and trimming. My buddy got me into it, plus I barbecue at home all the time. This kind of barbecue takes a long time. I never was a cook offshore, but on my days off I’d enter cooking contests every now and then I’d cook for my crew offshore as a treat. It was a hobby. We won some contests at The Daily Iberian and some in Texas. One year we entered the Brudley’s Wild Game Cookoff.
When do you serve seafood?
Normally we serve the seafood on Friday, some may carry over to Saturday but we get it fresh. We only started getting seafood last week and I only deal with fresh seafood. The barbecue crabs are to die for, but we don’t always have them. We only serve select and it’s two on a plate. Depending on the price, when available, if I’m paying $90 a dozen, who’s going to pay the markup, so why buy them. Crab fingers, too. I only buy fresh and if I don’t sell them, I don’t freeze them. They’re not good like when they’re fresh. The fresh seafood is just starting to come out, so we’ll have more. We did New Orleans Shrimp, garlic and butter, they were fresh off the boat. They really like them. When we do something special, we put it on the sign and on Facebook.
This weeK’s Recipes
2017 Cajun/Creole Cookbook — 1st place Appetizers
Creamy Stuffed Crab
1 pound white crabmeat
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and chopped
1 cup onions, bell pepper, celery and parsley mix, chopped
1 Tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dill, chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
3 Tablespoons Sake wine
1 bay leaf
1 package Panko bread crumbs
Ramakins, crab shells, flounder, etc. to stuff mixture into
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On medium heat, combine the chopped vegetable mix, dill, garlic, olive oil, butter and bay leaf. Cook until the vegetables are wilted but not brown, then remove the bay leaf.
Add the Sake wine and shrimp and cook just until the chopped shrimp are pink.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice, salt, pepper and cream cheese. Mix until all of the cream cheese is dissolved.
Add the crabmeat and mix until combined.
Grease whatever you are using to stuff the mixture into. Add the crabmeat-shrimp mixture into your holder of choice and cover the top of of the stuffing with Panko bread crumbs.
Bake in the oven uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes or until the bread crumbs are brown.
*Note: This can be added to almost any dish. You could even stuff a turkey or chicken and get great results.
Mark Boudreaux, New Iberia
From The Daily Iberian's 2015 Cajun/Creole Cookbook
Mark Boudreaux’s first place appetizer
1 pound Shrimp
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 package Sargento Monterey Jack cheese sticks
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1 package large tortillas
2 teaspoons olive oil
In a 4-quart sauce pan, combine olive oil, onions, celery and cook on medium to high heat until the vegetables are wilted.
Reduce heat to medium and add shrimp and cook until the shrimp just start to turn pink. Remove from the stove and let cool down or place in freezer for a few minutes.
Take one tortilla and place a cheese stick in the middle of the tortilla. Add a little shrimp mixture on each side of the cheese stick, about 2-3 tablespoons.
Begin to roll the tortilla over the mixture, then fold in the sides and continue to roll. Seal it closed with a toothpick.
Deep fry or pan fry in 330 degree oil until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Caution: Before serving, remove the toothpicks.
Mark A. Boudreaux, New Iberia
GET TO KNOW
Owners: Mark & Svitlana Boudreaux
241 West Main St.
New Iberia, LA 70560
(337) 321-9180 Cost $-$$
HOURS OF OPERATION: Wednesday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
BULK ORDERS: Call in advance
CUISINE: Slow grilled meats, homemade soups and specialty seafood as available.
ATTRIBUTES: International hospitality and good food.