Sep 23, 2010 5:08 AM by Posted by Sharlee Barriere
OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) - Danny Landry carved out a niche for
himself as a chef in New Orleans over about 12 years, working mostly at fine dining venues such as Restaurant Isadora and the Bombay Club in the French Quarter.
The Kaplan native and graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette moved back to Acadiana and worked at Catahoula's until 2001.
But he longed to get back to a more casual kind of cooking.
That's what he's doing at the recently opened Pappa's Crawfish House and Grill in Opelousas.
Owner Billy Fontenot said he had never tried to run a restaurant before, but he's well acquainted with the property the restaurant occupies. "I wanted to try a different venture," he said. "I'm the landlord there. I own the whole complex."
He had built it to house the Crawfish Corner, which recently closed. With the blessings of his wife, Misty Fontenot, he stepped in to fill the void.
Fontenot, who said he just lends his business know-how to the project, while Landry and the staff do the day-to-day running of the restaurant.
"I used to be in car and truck accessories," he said. "I went from selling wheels to selling meals."
Pappa's serves crawfish in season. The rest of the time, there is an assortment of sandwiches, poboys and entrees to choose from, all prepared under Landry's direction.
He said, "There's a lot of grilled food - fish, chicken breast, catfish and even grilled shrimp."
There also are daily specials. Landry said he and Fontenot often plan the next day's special at the end of the day. One of Landry's signature dishes is crab cake with tasso tartar sauce.
"Most places, there's so much breading in it," Landry said. "Mine is 95 percent crab meat."
Landry refers to the style of cooking he is doing these days as "casual," but he doesn't see it in any way as a step down from what he was doing before. It's a return to his roots, to a degree, to the style of cooking he learned at his mother's knee.
Fine dining has its place, but it's not what most people are looking for five days a week, Landry said.
He hasn't abandoned the fine dining aspect entirely.
"We can do very casual, very simple food," Landry said, "but we can do the fine dining food at a bargain price. On the weekends, it's a more upscale type of food. You can come in (wearing) cut-offs and eat what you'd find in New Orleans or New York."