New Orleans, La., is one of the country’s top foodie havens, with a beloved regional cuisine. Thanks to the widespread popularity of Cajun cooking, consumers can get their fix pretty much everywhere. The problem, however, is that they may not always be getting a true taste of New Orleans. One meat processor, with ties to New Orleans that go back more than a century, is taking a stand by producing deli meat with a true Cajun taste.
Chisesi Brothers, a five-generation New Orleans processor of deli meat and sausage, recently partnered with Tony Chachere’s, a producer of Cajun seasonings, marinades and other authentic products. The combination of two Louisiana food institutions has resulted in a line of ham, roast beef and turkey deli meats that are authentically Cajun.
“We were talking about all these flippin’ Cajun products that are out on the market today, and a lot of them are not the true flavor of Cajun products like here in New Orleans. A lot of the stuff was just seasoned on the outside – they were just putting pepper on the outside,” explains Nicholas Chisesi. “We figured, what better company to team up with than the leading Cajun spice company, which is Tony Chachere’s.”
The product development process took a year and a half. The easy way out, as Chisesi noted, would have been to rub the seasoning on the surface and ship it to market. Being a family business, with the family name on every package, Chisesi Brothers was not about to take any shortcuts. The company developed a process that injects the Cajun seasoning into the deli meat, bringing that taste to every bite.
“When you slice the deli meat, you’ll see the Cajun spices in it, and not just on the outside,” he explains.
Chisesi clears up another misconception about Cajun food. Yes, there are a variety of spices and seasonings that are blended together to create that unique taste. The resulting products, though, are not hot.
“I like to call it a bold taste. Yes, it does have spice in it, but it’s not spicy,” he adds.
Chisesi says that the new deli line embraces that bold flavor. Trying to find a happy medium with a lighter injection of seasoning didn’t really result in a true Cajun taste.
“When people get these products, they may say it’s too spicy, but remember that deli products are supposed to be between two pieces of bread, with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and tomatoes,” he says. “You’ve got to put enough [seasoning] to cover for the bread, the mayo, the cheese. It gives the sandwich that taste, and a lot of people like it.”
The company has been known for its ham and roast beef products, but turkey is a relatively recent addition. It was added for consumers who were looking for a more health-conscious alternative to beef or pork. The turkey is available in the Cajun and smoked varieties.
The Tony Chachere’s line of deli meats has fared well in Louisiana, and Chisesi Brothers is hoping to grow its customer base throughout the Southeast because of the Tony Chachere’s connection.
“We’re using it to get our products across the region, into Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, to get into Texas with that product and try to represent the true Cajun style, the way that it should be, instead of having someone who’s from New York trying to do a Cajun product,” says Chisesi.