Boyer Derise, owner/founder of Good Eats Kitchen, joined Discover Lafayette to discuss his career journey as a professional chef. His story is really one of being an entrepreneur who has learned to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of today’s world, especially with the challenges of the pandemic.
Boyer, a Delcambre native, always loved to cook and be around the food industry. His uncle had a diner and by the age of ten, Boyer was flipping burgers. He began his professional culinary career after graduating from the Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge along with other local chefs such as Chef Colin Cormier of Pop’s Poboy’s. He learned how to cook in a traditional French culinary style and also was taught the mechanics of running a kitchen and the economic realities of keeping a restaurant open.
He began his professional culinary career with Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in Baton Rouge. That was the beginning of a 10-year career with Fleming’s, where he was the youngest Executive Chef Partner in the company’s history, taking the helm of his own kitchen at age 25. Fleming’s was going through an incredible expansion phase growing from 20 to 62 locations in four years while Boyer was employed with them. (Paul Fleming, a Franklin native, was the principal behind Fleming’s along with Bill Allen, and then founded PF Changs and Pei Wei; he now owns Paul Morton’s American Grill found throughout the Western U. S.)
The training Boyer gained from his time with Fleming’s gave him more hands-on relevant learning than any classroom education would have afforded him.
Boyer also had the distinctive honor of being selected to cook for Team USA and Dignitaries at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. This came about through his future wife, Katie, a pastry chef who had first worked at the Turin (Italy) Olympics with Behind The Scenes Catering who works for NBC. Boyer networked through Katie and was hired by Behind the Scenes to run catering Olympic Pavilions for Omega and Johnson & Johnson. Although incredibly challenged by having to work with young chefs who spoke no English while putting in 20-hour days over four weeks, he looks back and realizes the experience was life-changing. As a young man in his 20’s, not a bad way to learn to “adapt and overcome” in a similar mentality exemplified by the Marines.
Boyer was in a sales role with a local seafood company when he started doing meal prep in 2016 for his sister to keep her “dress ready” for her wedding. Good Eats Kitchen, in Boyer’s mind, came about by accident in connection with him helping his sister and re-engaging with his first love, cooking. Timing, of course, is everything when one makes the leap from having a “side hustle” to focusing full-time on the endeavor.
Starting out working in his home kitchen for a few people at $8.00 per prepared meal, word of mouth grew this side hustle exponentially. He had always liked the ‘grab and go’ healthy meal concept, especially after living in Austin while working for Fleming’s. For a year, he cooked out of his home kitchen; in 2017 he pulled the plug on his day job and took the plunge full-time in what would be branded as Good Eats Kitchen. His focus has always been on “just good food”, without being pigeonholed into the low calorie/Keto option. It’s whole food cooking, according to Boyer Derise.
Customers can order line at https://mygoodeatskitchen.com/ or walk into Good Eats Kitchen in the Oil Center at 1116 Coolidge Blvd., Suite F. Meal choices are sure to please everyone. Chef Boyer Derise’s favorite meal is the Chicken Piccata and from day one the best-selling meal has been the Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas. You can find options such as a blackened redfish or Indian Butter Chicken, and many many more! As Boyer says, “Come GEK (‘geek”) out with us!”
Each meal is individually portioned, “fresh and high quality.” The only things ever frozen in the meal prep is frozen shrimp from Delcambre and canned tomatoes for the tomato sauce. Meals range from mid-300 to 500 calories, with no salt, sugar or preservatives added. Eat Fit of Acadiana has given its seal of approval. With 36 meals to choose from, there will be something to please any palate.
Good Eats Kitchen now has two locations, one here in Lafayette in the Oil Center and another in Baton Rouge.
Of course, COVID changed Good Eat Kitchen’s business model. Boyer added home delivery and shifted to an e-commerce model. From the first week of the shutdown in March 2020, things went well. With the decimation of the retail food supply chain, Boyer still had access to the wholesale supply system. Good Eats started loading up boxes of vegetables and high-quality deli meats and proteins to their loyal clients. They never had to reduce the work hours of any of their culinary team as the business model changed to direct-to-consumer delivery of meals.
In October 2020 developed an environmentally friendly, biodegradable/compostable delivery kit, It fits with Boyer’s dedication to enrich the lives of the people in the communities in which they operate. He didn’t want to be hypocritical by selling healthy food delivered in thousands of plastic containers each week which would need 20 to 500 years to decompose.
Good Eats Kitchen (‘GEK’) is working on a new e-commerce platform, gearing up to expand and offer subscription options. They intend to expand their delivery reach into Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, parts of Georgia, and Florida. This was always the plan and the pandemic moved this front and center in their priority list.
Customers can order online at https://mygoodeatskitchen.com/ or walk into Good Eats Kitchen in the Oil Center at 1116 Coolidge Blvd., Suite F. Meal choices are sure to please everyone. Chef Boyer Derise’s favorite meal is the Chicken Piccata and from day one the best-selling meal has been the Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas. You can find a blackened redfish and Indian Butter Chicken, and many many more! As Boyer says, “Come GEK (‘geek”) out with us!”
Boyer has always been a huge fan of grilled oysters. From shucking the oysters to the preparation, grilling, and “mopping up the butter with fresh bread, it’s a true passion. He was already set up to be a food vendor and experienced with e-commerce. With the pandemic, he decided to figure out what else he could sell through e-commerce. He set up a test site to test the viability of shipping frozen oysters nationwide. He needs to be able to offer two-day shipping to ensure food safety. In late 2020 Boyer launched Bayou Carlin Oyster Co. an e-commerce business that sells and ships Grilled Oyster Kits throughout the US. (Bayou Carlin is the formal name of the Delcambre Canal, the body of water that connects Lake Peigner to Vermilion Bay.)
The concept began to gain traction. After one paid Facebook ad Boyer ran on Black Friday, in the period leading up to Christmas he shipped over 400 dozen frozen oysters across the U. S. It was immediately apparent that the demand was there. “We are shipping the culture.” With the pandemic in place, people were taking care of their whole family’s Christmas gifts by sending the frozen oysters. All of the oysters come from an oyster house in Houma. This is a first-to-market product, meaning no one else offers this frozen, conveniently ready to prepare delicacy that comes topped with the compound butter of your choice. All the end-user has to do is thaw and cook/grill/bake in the oven to have a restaurant-quality oyster meal.
We wish Boyer Derise the best of success as he grows his business models. And, we also congratulate him for his commitment to our community and being a proud member of Class XXXIV of Leadership Lafayette! Visit leadacadiana.org for more info on applying for Class XXXV; applications are open from September 20 to November 19, 2021.