For those who haven’t heard the news, Food Network’s Cajun Aces is back for another season—and we are thrilled! We are big fans of the show’s husband-wife team of Chefs Cody and Sam Carroll. Together they reigned as King and Queen of Louisiana Seafood from 2013 to 2014, and Cody was a member of our 2014 class of Chefs to Watch.
But more than any of their many well-deserved titles, we admire the heart and soul Sam and Cody apply to their craft across two restaurants while raising their daughter Malley, and now with Cajun Aces, which premiered in 2017.
On Saturday, August 25, at 11:00 a.m. CT, the first episode of their six-episode run will start with a Friday night fish fry, featuring Cody’s Thin Cut Catfish and Spillway Sauce, plus Sam’s Fish Camp Punch.
Because we absolutely devoured the first season, we just couldn’t wait for the second season premiere. So, we stole a few minutes with the Cajun Aces themselves to learn some insider information and find out what we can expect from Sam and Cody (and Malley!) during this next season.
Tell us a little bit about what this experience has been like for you two.
Sam: It’s been crazy this go-round. We had a bigger crew, we had a culinary producer, we had all these people around to help us put out the best food possible and make it look as beautiful as possible. Even our camera guy and lighting guy, the ones that are getting footage of these beautiful Louisiana landscapes and showing off everything Louisiana has to offer. It’s full-force this time!
Cody: We have our two restaurants, and now we treat the show almost like a third restaurant that has two kitchens! We have our kitchen where we do the video, then we have the back kitchen, and we have about four ovens. I mean, it’s crazy. It feels like we’re opening up another restaurant.
How do you think you have grown as chefs, going from season one to season two?
Cody: It’s huge. The first time, you don’t really know what to expect. It’s like when you’re opening your first restaurant: you don’t really know what to do, but you’re focused on getting it all right and just learning. Because we had a four-episode first season, we got to learn a lot. For that very first episode, we shot about 200 hours’ worth of footage. It was a lot of repetition and learning. But coming into this season, it was almost like we were seasoned veterans. We were able to focus on other things outside of the little knick-knack stuff. This time we just dove right into the food and into the culture since we knew what we were doing.
What do you hope viewers will learn about Louisiana cuisine through Cajun Aces?
Cody: One of the things we focus on is that a lot of people around the world are scared to cook things like gumbo and jambalaya, and they’re scared because they think it’s so hard. And it is hard, but there are ways to do it easier by simplifying recipes. We’re really taking these things that everybody thinks are impossible to cook and showing them how to do it easily and quick. It’s just a little trick, and once you know how to do it, you can do it really fast. Plus, Sam’s a pretty fast cook, too, and that helps.
Sam: I think the best part about it is that we are chefs that also cook at home. We’ve put together these crazy, hybrid home-recipes and home-hacks that I would do at home for my daughter or Cody would do cooking for us. Plus, keeping those fun little tricks-of-the-trade from our chef-side, which anyone can do at home and keep in their back pockets to make that restaurant quality at home. So, by showcasing both sides of our world, hopefully people can take and learn from that in their own kitchens at home.
Can you tell us a few of those tricks we’ll get to see this season?
Sam: Well, we have a trick for making a roux, which you’ll see on that first episode this Saturday. It’ll help you speed up that process a little bit so you’re not standing over a stove for 45 minutes to an hour. Then we have little hacks for choosing fresh produce and how to cut things, like Cody teaches people how to thin-cut catfish at home. So, if you’re craving fried fish and you want to thin-cut it, you can do it yourself at home. Plus, there’s a whole episode on cooking with cast-iron. Everybody has cast-iron at home, whether it’s a skillet or a pot, and we have an episode dedicated to cooking things from that vessel.
What are your favorite moments from last season and from this upcoming season?
Sam: Last season, when we were shooting for the pilot, there was a lot of footage of us just out in the elements fishing, cooking, and farming—all that stuff. So, we brought the crew bow fishing for garfish, and we had one of those double-decker boats with all the lights. We’re bow fishing, and they’re trying to get as much footage as possible of us doing that, but there were so many mosquitos that the film crew, the production crew, the director…everybody was freaking out. They had their shirts over their heads and were saying things like, “I can’t even breathe! I’m swallowing mosquitos!” It was just one of those things like, “Welcome to Louisiana!” Some of the crew who came back for season two still talk about that and say it’s the craziest thing they’ve ever seen.
Cody: For this season, something similar happened while we were cooking, and our kitchen is outside for the show. It was a downpour! It started storming, and rain was just rolling off the roof! But then all of our film crew and production crew were taking out their phones and their cameras and started videoing it. I was like, “Why are y’all videoing this rain?” They kept saying they’d never seen that much rain before, but for here, that’s just a normal rain.
Sam: And another fun thing is that our daughter is in an episode. It’s all about kid-friendly dishes and dishes that are fun to cook with your kids. So, we got to have Malley on there, which I think is funny because she stole the show! She has so much personality, then at one point she was over it and said, “I’m done!” and went out and played.
Without giving too much away, what do you think viewers should be looking forward to the most?
Cody: It’s really the use of Louisiana products and the whole farm-to-table feel in every episode. In one episode we do sugar cane, which was really cool. We planted sugar cane this year, so for that episode, we go into the field and harvest the sugar cane, then go back to the kitchen that is only a mile away and cook everything with sugar cane. And every episode is similar to that. We go harvest something, then bring it back and cook it. That’s really the way cooking is supposed to be. It’s the way I grew up cooking.
Sam: I’d also say people can look forward to some really delicious food and recipes that hopefully they’ll cook at home. Also, seeing Cody and me together outside of the restaurant, in our element. We give each other a hard time on camera and pick on each other because our restaurant-competitiveness is still there, but it’s fun. It’s fun, funny, and hopefully delicious.
Tune in to Food Network’s Cajun Aces this Saturday, August 25, at 11:00 a.m. CT.