Local chef competes with the best

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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LAPLACE — Ryan Cashio is on a mission to put the River Parishes on the map and let the world know that a hometown chef can go up against the best of the best in the culinary world.

In the past year, Cashio placed second in NOLA Navy Week’s Seafood Cook-off at the Riverwalk and was selected as one of the top 12 chefs in the state of Louisiana during the Great American Seafood Cook-off in Lafayette.

To prove Louisiana’s best cuisine is not limited to New Orleans, Cashio is ready to compete in additional culinary competitions while balancing his role of executive chef of Cajun House & Catering in LaPlace. His next goal is to earn a spotlight on Food Network.

“I never sought out any competitions or anything like that in that past because I had young children who were growing up, and I was more focused on family than being full-on in the culinary world. Since they are grown now, I have started entertaining more contests just to see where I fall against the best of the best,” Cashio said. “I don’t do local cook-offs or anything like that. Everything is pretty much with the American Culinary Federation or against other professionals.”

Cashio has always had a love for cooking. His parents even teased that his first word was “food.” Instead of picking out comic books at the Scholastic book fair like his classmates, he was drawn to cookbooks.

“My parents are both good cooks, and I was always underneath their feet, questioning everything my mom was doing in the kitchen,” Cashio recalled.

He was only 7 or 8 years old when his mother suggested he cook supper if he was so intent on questioning the way she prepared meals. He did, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“Ever since then, my excitement for food and seeing people’s faces when they taste my food has driven me to grow. I’ve never lost my passion for that,” Cashio said. “When I graduated high school, there was no other choice for me but to go into culinary school.”

The St. John the Baptist Parish community came to love Cashio’s food when he opened The Cajun Grill in LaPlace. The lunchtime spot served the community for 20 years, until complete devastation from Hurricane Ida forced Cashio down a new avenue. What initially felt like a moment of defeat turned into a new beginning.

Cashio turned down lucrative job offers that would have taken him away from the culinary industry after preparing roughly 1,300 meals per day over 10 days for a hurricane relief distribution. With a reignited passion for cooking, he and his wife, Heidi Cashio, opened Cajun House & Catering at 405 Belle Terre Blvd. Ste. A in December 2021.

Heidi Cashio sees glimpses of her husband when their children experiment with new recipes. Even though they don’t all plan to become professional chefs, Cashio’s children can cook anything they need to. His son’s culinary skills carried over to the military, and one of his daughters currently works as a manager at Cajun House, where she has grown into a respectable baker and cook.

Heidi Cashio has also enjoyed watching her husband compete in American Culinary Federation contests as an underdog chef.

“It was an amazing experience with Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, seeing how he supports our restaurant industry and seafood industry in Louisiana. It taught us even more about our culture,” she said.

Cashio has used his talents to bring Cajun cooking beyond Louisiana’s borders by offering mobile catering to customers across Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee and other states.

“I’ve done weddings in Destin, Florida on the beach and crawfish boils in Houston. No matter where people need good food, I can go and deliver that,” Cashio said.