In February 2010, during what Kristen “Jambalaya Girl” Preau Moore calls her “magic month,” her company Cook Me Somethin’ Mister launched and her beloved New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl.
Kristens packaged jambalaya rice mix was selling well, due to its authentic flavors—the spices are sourced from Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Company, which is also the company’s packaging partner—and the flat-out hustle of Kristen and her family.
“We’ve served hundreds of thousands of samples over the years,” Kristen says, including at local festivals, Saints tailgates, and grocery stores.
But her product didn’t reach its full potential until she changed the name of the company.
Outside of New Orleans, [customers] couldn’t remember the name Cook Me Somethin’ Mister,” she says. “People were literally calling it ‘that jambalaya with the girl with the fork earrings.’”
When the New Orleans native had the opportunity to work on her marketing plan with professionals from Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg, she was immediately asked, “Why isn’t your business name Jambalaya Girl?” Since changing her name and branding in 2016, the company’s annual gross income has increased by 250 percent through contracts with large grocery chains like Publix, Costco, and Sam’s Club.
“It’s my likeness, it’s my nickname, and it all ties together with my love for New Orleans,” Kristen says. “Then there’s the stuff you don’t even think about, like [the fact that] Cook Me Somethin’ Mister is way too long for a shelf label. So, it’s cute, people remember it, and it embodies what I’m about, and it tells a story.”
She notes that while people often automatically assume that any food coming from New Orleans is spicy, her mix has a more balanced flavor and has even been proclaimed as “kid-friendly” by the mommy blogosphere. The mix is also vegetarian-friendly, using a dried vegan beef-flavored stock to season the rice.
“It’s all about getting the best, well-rounded flavor,” Kristen says. “If you get too much heat, you burn your mouth and you don’t enjoy it.”
Fueled by the success of the flagship product, Jambalaya Girl has released other boxed mixes: a gumbo mix with a dry, toasted roux; a low-sodium brown rice mix created through partnerships with public schools; and a yellow rice mix with the addition of turmeric and saffron, which Kristen says is “just delicious New Orleans flavor blended into a classic dish.”
She says there are several New Orleans restaurants that use her jambalaya box mix as the base for dishes they serve, but only two can be publicly identified: Parkway Bakery & Tavern and Ye Olde College Inn, both local institutions. For the other users, one can only speculate.
- 1 (16-ounce) package ground mild pork sausage
- 2½ cups plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
- 1 (8-ounce) package Jambalaya Girl® Jambalaya Rice Mix
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese with peppers, shredded
- 2¾ cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs), divided
- 4 large eggs, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- Rémoulade Sauce (recipe follows), to serve
- Garnish: chopped fresh parsley
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon minced green onion
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons dill pickle relish
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- In a medium Dutch oven, cook sausage over medium-high heat until browned and crumbly about 8 minutes; using a slotted spoon transfer sausage to a shallow pan, reserving drippings in pot.
- Add 2½ cups water to drippings, and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from bottom of pot with a wooden spoon. Stir in rice mix. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Add rice to pan with sausage; let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese, ¾ cup bread crumbs, 2 eggs, parsley, and thyme. Using a ¼-cup spring-loaded scoop, scoop rice mixture and shape into balls.
- In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°.
- In a shallow dish, place flour In another shallow dish, whisk together remaining 2 eggs and remaining 2 tablespoons water. In another shallow dish, place remaining 2 cups bread crumbs Dredge each ball in flour dip in egg mixture and dredge in bread crumbs.
- Fry balls in batches, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove using a spider strainer, and let drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with Rémoulade Sauce. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.