"My career in cooking happened very organically," says Julie Vaucresson, the owner and operator of Creole Made Easy, LLC (CME), a complementary entity of Vaucresson Sausage Company. Vaucresson Sausage Company is a 124-year-old family business in the heart of New Orleans' Creole Seventh Ward commercial corridor. Julie is not only an accomplished entrepreneur but also a TV and social media personality, cookbook author, and sauce savant.
Julie's passion for food stems from her upbringing as a foodie. She fondly recalls her mother's tradition of preparing whatever they wanted on their birthdays. Crawfish etouffee, fresh corn shucked off the cob and smothered, and a homemade German chocolate cake were among her cherished favorites. This culinary bond between mother and daughter laid the foundation for Julie's culinary journey.
Her love for cooking played a significant role in her blossoming relationship with her husband and business partner, Vance Vaucresson. After cooking a meal that left Vance raving, Julie invited him to her mother's home for dinner. It was then that he realized her exceptional culinary skills were a testament to her upbringing. As Vance exclaimed, "Oh, I thought I was special, but this is just how y'all eat."
While Julie initially faced some setbacks during her first year of college, her determination led to academic success, including studying abroad. She was even recruited by the CIA for an overseas position, but she opted to pursue a full scholarship and obtained her Master's in Government from Notre Dame. Returning to her beloved New Orleans after graduation, Julie explored various sectors, including public housing, commercial development, non-profit housing, and senior housing.
In the fall of 2019, Julie and Vance embarked on a new chapter by opening their first in-store cafe, Vaucressons Creole Cafe & Deli. However, with the arrival of the pandemic in March 2020, they had to pivot their focus to direct-to-consumer sales. Determined to overcome the challenges, Julie and Vance pressed on. Julie's son took charge of local deliveries while she shared her sausage recipes with the community, ensuring they could enjoy their products at home.
The local television stations soon recognized Vance's talent and invited him to star in cooking segments. However, Julie's integral role in organizing the food for these demonstrations did not go unnoticed. News outlets began reaching out to her, amazed by her expertise and contributions. Reflecting on this newfound recognition, Julie humbly remarked, "I was like, 'Woah, me'?"
The Making of Mustards
"My mustards have been a labor of love," confesses Julie, recounting the moment inspiration struck at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 2019 when Vaucressons Sausage stands unexpectedly ran out of mustard. Both Julie and Vance realized they needed to create their own line of mustards.
Months went by, and their home fridge became a mustard haven. Initially, their children found it amusing, but soon it became clear that a real business was taking shape. Julie describes the mustard-making journey as more challenging than her Ph.D. program, encountering discouragement along the way. She persevered through trial and error, delving into the intricacies of mustard seeds, navigating supply issues, and experimenting with various ingredients. Julie firmly believes that if you want to quit, you're not doing it right.
As we discussed celebrating National Soul Food Month, Julie emphasizes the connection between soul food and Southern cuisine. She finds comfort in dishes like cornbread, yams, and greens, as they evoke a sense of home and deeply resonate with Southern culture. Julie admires the Black home chefs in New Orleans who capture the essence of home-cooked food, setting the standard for exceptional cuisine.
In celebration of National Soul Food Month, Julie infused her vibrant personality into cooking segments, further showcasing her culinary expertise and spreading the joy of soulful Southern cooking.