Spot an important part of St. Albert’s restaurant history
If you’re in the mood for seafood, head to The Cajun House. As a member of Saint-Albert Gazette Readers’ Choice Contest, 408 diners chose this New Orleans themed establishment as their favorite seafood restaurant.
âIt’s always nice to be chosen, to be included in the equation. I’m glad people thought of us, and being a New Orleans restaurant that’s what we do, âsaid Executive Chef and Owner Gordon Gidora.
An important part of St. Albert’s restaurant history, The Cajun House opened in 1991 with Gidora as inaugural chef. One of the city’s most enduring and popular restaurants, it has defied the rigors of time and the pandemic. Despite the challenges currently facing the hospitality industry, the restaurant is a testament to its authentic dishes, striking ambiance and dedicated staff.
Gidora first developed his passion for Creole and Cajun specialties at the age of 19 when he visited New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It was before Hurricane Katrina and the world-class party was enhanced with unlimited booze, lip-smacking southern cuisine and soulful jazz and blues.
Considering an alternative to fast food and steakhouses, the Red Seal chef began cooking for diners looking for something new and exciting. Today some of its most popular dishes are seafood jambalaya, red snapper etouffee (red snapper in a cream sauce topped with shrimp) and Creole shrimp (pan-fried shrimp sprinkled with Creole spices and served with Creole tomato sauce).
An authentic Cajun dish that’s no longer on the appetizer menu is Louisiana Alligator Blood Pudding, a homemade sausage made from imported American alligator meat. The United States and the Wildlife Service, along with several other American agencies, have controlled the export of meat from this endangered wildlife.
âIt’s the same with crayfish. You can’t get it, âGidora said. âAnd there is a shortage of freshwater catfish products. They don’t have the people to process the product and they can’t ship it.
Despite the slight decline in marine variety, the creative chef continues to offer west coast snapper, chinook salmon, halibut, mussels and oysters to name a few. As the pandemic persists, prices rise and profits fall.
Before COVID, Gidora was paying $ 7.50 per pound of shrimp. Currently the price ranges from $ 9.44 to $ 10.50 per pound. Crab also went from $ 13 to $ 17 while halibut went from $ 12 a pound to $ 15.50.
âBut I haven’t increased my prices for over two years. I try to be fair. I try to be competitive. I’d rather be open and busy than overpay and lose business.
Some restaurants have cut portions to make ends meet.
âI didn’t cut portions. I keep the business so much fairer to keep it going. I’ve been here for 30 years so I must be doing something right.
During the first COVID lockdown, the restaurant suffered a 70% impact on the business, and it has been difficult to return to any semblance of normalcy. But all was not pessimistic.
âWe had to figure out how to do high volume delivery and take out – on Mother’s [Day] and on Father’s Day we had 200 pickups in three hours.
Currently, Gidora is keeping the restaurant above water.
âI love the job and I love the food. It’s nice to own your own business. It’s good when people say, “Best meal in a long time.” I always like to come to work. The hours are too long, but I still like to go around the kitchen.