The two-day LRA marketplace is a hub of creativity and possibilities
Exhibitors at the LRA Showcase have the opportunity to increase brand awareness, get in front of their target market, speak directly with decision makers and allow customers to touch, taste, feel and experience their products and services. This two-day marketplace sets the standard as the top regional restaurant show in the country, making it special for exhibitors that attend every year. It provides a one-stop shopping resource for thousands of foodservice professionals looking for new suppliers.
One annual exhibitor is the Certified Louisiana Program from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Commissioner Mike Strain is head of this unique program designed to promote Louisiana made, grown, manufactured or processed products that are aimed at enhancing and promoting Louisiana’s agricultural industry.
“The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is excited to bring many of our Certified Louisiana companies to the LRA Showcase again this year,” Strain said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to help connect our unique and local Certified Louisiana products with many restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and more.”
Strain says “you’re getting the very best” when you buy a Certified Louisiana product. Members of the program range from sauces, craft beers and wines, generational seafood farmers, meats and seasoning blends. One Certified Louisiana product found just the right partnership at the showcase last year.
Melissa ‘T-Beaux’ Anderson, CEO and founder of T-Beaux’s Seasoned Gumbo Roux & Gravy Base, was an exhibitor at the showcase last year as part of a group of Certified Louisiana food entrepreneurs. She found her perfect match with Acadian Kitchens®, making her pre-seasoned gumbo roux the first of its kind. Now, her product is being sold in Rouses grocery stores from Louisiana to Alabama, with future plans of being sold nationwide.
When Anderson got the call to be a part of the LRA Showcase, she quickly formulated a plan to brand her product.
“I jumped on the opportunity and prepared in less than two weeks,” Anderson said. “My main goal was to find a co-brand partnership through another Louisiana company that could help supply the demand that I was currently seeing with my product.”
Anderson enjoyed using her booth space to place her Creole heritage in the spotlight. She knew there were no guarantees, but she was also grateful knowing the LRA was giving her a huge opportunity to market her brand.
“The atmosphere, the food, and just the whole convention and purpose was truly a life-changing experience,” Anderson said. “All the tools were given to me right there to network and market.
Anderson’s positive attitude lent her a hand in building the valuable connections with her new co-branded partnership. When she crossed paths with Acadian Kitchens®, she knew she found something good.
“A partnership with Acadian Kitchens stood out more than the others because our vision and ideas ran parallel to each other,” said Anderson.
Acadian Kitchens® is a food product supplier, fusing authentic and diverse tastes of Louisiana's Creole and Cajun cultures to bring traditional, bold, hand-crafted flavors to Louisiana and beyond.
Ryan Schemmel, the Chief Commercial Officer for Acadian Kitchens®, says this is their first ever co-branded partnership and they’re very excited about Anderson’s ideas. When they crossed paths at the showcase, Schemmel knew from their conversation she had a great product and Acadian Kitchens could help produce and distribute her recipe.
“She presents well, she is very personable and authentic, and brands well,” Schemmel said. “All of that brings a whole new level to the product.”
Their brands include Acadian Kitchens®, Ragin' Cajun® & Cajun's Choice®. Anderson’s product is housed under the Ragin' Cajun® brand.
“We think she can represent the company well,” said Schemmel. “She’s gone all in with us and we’ve gone all in with her.”
Anderson, a Lafayette native, has worked in the health care industry as surgical nurse, turned audit quality nurse. The former Mrs. Louisiana USA Ambassador 2017 got the idea to create her own pre-seasoned roux after a trip to Florida with her pageant sisters.
Not being from Louisiana, the girls wanted to eat gumbo Anderson says, so she searched Orlando for the proper ingredients but came up empty handed. She then moved to ordering some pre-made roux online, but when the package was delivered, both jars were broken. This began her process of finding just the right seasoning blend to create her pre-seasoned roux.
“Being the first woman-owned seasoned gumbo roux company, I am making history,” said Anderson. “Creole and Cajun culture is all around the world, not just Louisiana.”
Before being in the showcase, Anderson’s easy-to-prepare gumbo roux was already being sold online on her website, and in local independent grocery stores in Lafayette. It then expanded into the Rouses grocery stores in the Southern region, including Lafayette, New Iberia, Youngsville, Lake Charles and Sulphur. The showcase was her big break into the industry, an industry she wanted to be a part of to help provide a future for her family.
“My inspiration of making the gumbo was always to make cooking easy for other people to enjoy gumbo around the world,” said Anderson. “We are in a new age where we all try to juggle work and home life and still keeping in mind the family dinner concept. I wanted to create something that anyone can go home and prepare on an average weeknight.”
For more information about being an exhibitor or attendee at the LRA Showcase 2022, visit our Showcase page. Booth space is selling quick, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Registration for attendees opens soon, stay tuned to our social media channels for more information. You won't want to miss it!
Story originally posted on May 16, 2022