On my days off, I had a shrimp boat and fished. I got a crawfish farm, but were not really raising em, but we did raise crawfish for years. Sold em to restaurants, said the Cajun cook, who used to hunt gators with his dad and occasionally returns to the bayous with his son-in-law. We been there and done that.
Rutherford, who has black hair and a black moustache, wears an easy-going smile which hides some of the storms of life that he has weathered.
My wife for 41 years passed away with cancer. We fought the cancer at M.D. Anderson (Cancer Center in Houston, Texas), and 18 months later in 2008, she passed away, he said.
When something like cancer hits your family, a lot of things change in life. But with the help of the good Lord, were doing good. We look to Him for strength to get through things, hurricanes, cancer. Hes right there with us through it all.
The Cajun Seafood concession stand can be found on Highway 70 across from West Elementary School (9298 Lebanon Road), between Mt. Juliet and Lebanon.
Hot seafood plates start at $6.50 Hours are: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
The business also sells sell shrimp by the pound in three sizes and varieties (headed, peeled and deveined), individually frozen in 2- and 5-pound bags with medium (21-25) and large (31-35), at their office/kitchen at 538 Bass Lane within two miles of the concession stand.
They also provide catering for group event shrimp boils, fairs and festivals. Concession stand phone: 491-0501. Office/kitchen phone: 449-2430. For more info, go online to www.cajunseafoodtn.com.
Right before my wife was diagnosed with lymphoma, we had Hurricane Rita, that was a month after Katrina hit New Orleans, hit us in Creole. We had nothing but a cement slab left. You couldnt get a carpenter or materials.
After his wife's death, the widower found romance a second time around. When Jean and I got married, my family doubled. Now I have got seven children, 17 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
It was after visiting his daughter in Mt. Juliet on Thanksgiving 2009 that Leland and Jean decided to relocate to Tennessee.
My daughter showed me this place (a house in the country with acreage). I called my wife, Jean: Hey, you want to move to Mt. Juliet? She said, Whatever you want to do, all right with me.
The Rutherfords surveyed the house, hired contractors and remodeled the place. Leland then cleaned the grounds and built a fish pond before running out of things to occupy his time.
People kept asking me, Hey, you know where we can get good seafood?
That was all that Rutherford needed to hear before spawning Cajun Seafood. He cooks up his vittles in a commercial kitchen on Bass Lane, while, less than 2 miles away, Pinkston sells it Tuesdays through Saturdays from the concession stand directly across from West Elementary School on Lebanon Road.
I thought it would be about three years but the business is doing good right now. Our concession stand does well, Rutherford said. People say, Man, thats the best boiled shrimp I ever eaten in all my life.
Our most popular seller is gumbo and boiled shrimp. Sometimes I make shrimp stew or a shrimp etouffee. We just trying to see what the people want right now. We dont season it real heavily. Just season it lightly to give it a good flavor, said Rutherford, who plans soon to add a shrimp and oyster po-boy to the menu.
We have boudin, a pork and rice mixture stuffed in a casing. Its hard to imagine the difference (in Cajun foods and Southern country cuisine). Its a whole different world, said the Louisiana man. When you go into a grocery store in Louisiana, they are going to have two rice pots with boudin in one and tasso (a smoked meat) warming in the other.
Pinkston, food services manager of Cajun Seafood and a native of Sulphur, La., has been married to Rutherfords daughter, Dena, for 18 years. Theyve lived in Mt. Juliet for 15 years, and he worked previously in food management for Piccadilly Cafeteria, Ryans Steakhouse and Panera Bread.
People had been asking me why I didnt go in business for myself. I never wanted to, but as time went on, I thought, Id be a fool to pass on this. After I was let go by Panera, God opened a big door. He leads us into something better, Pinkston said of teaming with his father-in-law.
At first we didnt think people would buy gumbo in the summer, but, bud-a-bing! Our customers tell us, Finally, some real Cajun food.
When you tell them it takes three hours to make the roux, they know its the real thing. I let em sample it, and the food sells itself, Pinkston said. People been missing this for years. This is it.
He wants to know the recipes, Rutherford said, but I dont have no recipes. Take a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Its definitely an art, Pinkston said. You cant take it and read it off the side of a box.
Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at email@example.com.