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CAROLA LILLIE HARTLEY
Publisher and Contributing Writer

Designated by the State of Louisiana, tomorrow, June 14, 2022, is the official Tony Chachere Day in the state. What an honor for this Opelousas native son.

Who was Tony Chachere (1905-1995)

Born on June 14, 1905, in Opelousas, Louisiana, Anthony “Tony” Chachere, was one of the eight children of Tighman George Chachere and Nina Celestine DeLaRue. The Chachere family of his birth is well rooted in St. Landry Parish going back to the 18th century.

Early on Tony proved to be what some called a real character. When he decided to do something, it was done right, and he always succeeded.

He first became a pharmacist, eventually owning his own drug store and a drug wholesale company.

After being in the drugstore and drug/chemical manufacturing business for several years, Tony retired in 1955 and moved on to something else. He sold insurance, representing the Equitable Insurance Firm in the Opelousas area. He excelled in that job, and after just one year as an agent, in 1958 he won the South-Central sales championship of the nation.

After retiring from the insurance business in 1971, in 1972 Tony wrote and published Tony Chachere’s Cajun Country Cookbook, his first in a series of cookbooks. He was known for his cooking skills and for years he loved to cook.

Chachere had a flair for always being the best in everything he did and that was the case with preparing food. Around Opelousas he became known as the “Ole Master” of fine Cajun and Creole cuisine. His camp on Bayou Big Alabama in the swamp area near Opelousas was known as a gourmet haven. When he prepared a meal, he often shouted out, “Tonight, I’m gonna make ‘em cry!”

The difference between any other cook’s good food and Tony’s excellent food was the seasoning. During his years of cooking, Tony developed his famous Creole All Purpose Seasoning. He included the recipe for that seasoning in his first cookbook and said that recipe was worth the price of the book.

Tony traveled to many areas of the US promoting his cookbook. It was popular not just in Opelousas, but throughout Louisiana and other areas. He was interviewed on radio and television shows in Louisiana, Texas, Maryland and other states. Stories about him and his cookbook ran in newspapers across the country. In no time he was a famous chef and cookbook author.

Also, in 1972 Tony began producing and promoting his Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning. It too was an instant success and became a staple in Louisiana’s kitchens.

Because of the success of Tony’s special seasoning, in December of that year Tony Chachere’s Creole Foods of Opelousas was officially incorporated, today known as Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Cuisine. Now after 50 years, that company is still operating and considered one of the leading businesses in St. Landry Parish and Louisiana. Besides the famous seasoning, Tony Chachere’s has a line of marinades, dinner mixes, salad dressings, sauces and other culinary products.

In 1995, Tony Chachere was the first inductee into the Louisiana Chefs Hall of Fame. He died just a week later, on Sunday, March 19, 1995, three months before his 90th birthday. He was an amazing man who made a success of not just one business profession but was the best in three careers.

The Ole Master Tony Chachere pictured in the 1980s at his Creole Foods business on Lombard Street in Opelousas.

His legacy lives on today through the Tony Chachere Creole Cuisine business he created a half century ago in Opelousas.

And he is still getting honors. As his family-owned company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the entire state of Louisiana is also celebrating Mr. Tony with Tony Chachere Day tomorrow.  

What an honor for this Opelousas native son, his family, and for the City of Opelousas.