History of Bourgeois Meat Market
The town of Schriever lies deep in south Louisiana, well south of the bustle of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and past bayous, cane fields, moss-heavy oaks, and towns with thick French names. It's not uncommon for locals to slide a lilting mais, chere! into conversations. But Schriever's best defining feature is likely its Cajun meat market.
The story of Bourgeois Meat Market began more than 120 years ago. In 1891, a man named Valerie Jean-Batiste Bourgeois began slaughtering one pig or cow at a time and peddling the resulting fresh cuts by horse and carriage to bayou hamlets; not returning home until the entire animal had been sold.
Refrigeration allowed Valerie to open a permanent storefront on West Main Street next door to the family's home in the 1920’s. He smoked sausage and made hog's head cheese and boudin among other local delicacies. Over the years, the meat market attracted a loyal following.
When Valerie's son Lester, returned home from serving in World War 2, he took over the family business. Soon after, Lester made the decision to move the meat market and slaughterhouse to land across the street on Bayou Terrebonne. It wasn't long before his children were working in the market, too.
Today, Donald, one of Lester and Rita's seven children, is now the owner. Lester, who turned 90 last year, can still be found riding his bike across Main Street to the market several times a day. He likes to see what's going on and visit with the many locals, out-of-towners, and regulars that visit the meat market each day. And of course see if anyone can get away to go fishing.
Donald has put in years of hard work and would like to take some time off. He wonders what sort of innovations his son, Beau, will bring to the market. Bourgeois' has been wildly popular and has meant a lot to generations of locals.
Bourgeois' Meat Market is best known for its unique Cajun beef jerky, which has created a generation of near-addicted fans.
Today, Bourgeois' sells 1,000 pounds of beef jerky a week. Oil field salesmen regularly stop at Bourgeois' on weekday mornings to stock up on jerky to butter up prospective customers all across south Louisiana.
Our one-of-a-kind cajun beef jerky is world famous. The recipe and method of cooking are the best kept secrets at Bourgeois' Meat Market. What I can tell you, however, is that it is made from long, thin strips of quality extra lean steak. It's then seasoned and marinated for at least 24 hours, and then hung individually from nails on long rails. From there, it's placed in a smokehouse designed by my grandfather Valerie, and smoked all day long "the old-fashioned way" for a flavor, texture, and color that are unique to our establishment. We do not use any nitrates or nitrites in our jerky or any artificial smoke flavorings.
Check out Garden and Gun magazine’s article, “100 Southern Foods You Absolutely, Positively Must Try Before You Die” which names Bourgeois Beef Jerky first on the list.
How Bourgeois Beef Jerky Was Invented
For the true Bourgeois Beef Jerky fanatics, here is the tale of how our beef jerky came to be. According to Donald, it all started by accident:
One Thanksgiving in the early 1980s, Lester and Rita were out of town. Donald, then a college student at nearby Nicholls State University, was working at the meat market and had made some experimental beef jerky in the smoker for himself and his friends. He passed along a sliver to regular customer Mr. Chick Breaux, a silver-tongued salesman who sold cranes to oil companies offshore in the nearby Gulf of Mexico.
"Mr. Chick said, 'Man, this is good! You gotta make me some of that,'" recalls Donald. "I told him I couldn't do it. I knew my dad was going to be mad. He didn't want to get into anything new. We were busy enough."
But Chick was unrelenting. "Mr. Chick sweet-talked me. So I took 20 pounds of round steak and made him some," says Donald.
Chick returned a week later for 20 more pounds. And a few days later, he wanted still more. The savory, sumptuous strips had become his calling card and ticket to get past the toughest oil-field secretaries.
After about 6 months of making the jerky exclusively for Mr. Chick, Donald started making 5 or 10 pounds extra to sell to regulars.
Today, Bourgeois' sells 1,000 pounds of jerky a week, and although Chick Breaux has passed, other salesmen are following his lead, stopping at Bourgeois' on weekday mornings to stock up on jerky to butter up prospective customers.
Our one-of-a-kind cajun beef jerky is world famous. The recipe and method of cooking are the best kept secrets at Bourgeois' Meat Market. What I can tell you, however, is that it is made from long, thin strips of quality extra lean steak. It's then seasoned and marinated for at least 24 hours, and then hung individually from nails on long rails. From there, it's placed in a smokehouse designed by my grandfather Valerie, and smoked all day long "the old-fashioned way" for a flavor, texture, and color that are unique to our establishment.