Chef John Folse Opens New Manufacturing Plant

Jan 04, 2005

Chef John Folse -- cookbook author and host of television and radio cooking shows -- is opening on Jan. 14 a 30,000-square-foot, USDA-inspected food processing facility in Donaldsonville, La. Previously based in New Orleans, Folse relocated his operations in part to allow for future expansion. The new plant, located on 12 acres and designed for quick expansion, will anchor Donaldsonville’s developing industrial park.

The Donaldsonville operation produces more than 100 products for more than 60 foodservice, retail and chain account customers. The product line includes soups, sauces, vegetables, entrees, desserts and dry mixes, both fresh and frozen.

Folse entered the manufacturing arena in 1990, when he received a phone call at his Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant (New Orleans) from a customer requesting a weekly order of 300 gallons of gumbo. This simple request resulted in the kitchen of being turned into a mini-manufacturing operation.

While the New Orleans facility produces approximately 75 tons of cooked products per week on a single shift, the Donaldsonville operation will be capable of producing more than 150 tons in the same period, or more than 17 million pounds of cooked food annually. Most of the 40 New Orleans employees will move to the new facility, though Folse anticipates hiring an additional 75 employees from the Donaldson area over a three-year period. Plant labor ranges from food scientists and microbiologists to cooks and case packers.

“Though we are moving the plant from New Orleans, we are not abandoning the New Orleans facility,” Folse said. “Currently, I’m entertaining several possibilities for that location.”

Folse is the owner and executive chef of his Louisiana-based corporations including Lafitte's Landing Restaurant at Bittersweet Plantation, White Oak Plantation, Exceptional Endings, Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing, Bittersweet Plantation Dairy and Digi-Tek Productions. He is the author of numerous cookbooks and hosts a nationally-syndicated television cooking show, "A Taste of Louisiana," and a radio cooking talk show, "Stirrin' It Up With Chef John Folse." Additionally, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University is named in his honor.