BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Having a barbecue restaurant in south Louisiana means it will most definitely have a few twists in it.
“Smoking is like a technique. It’s not just grilling. It takes time. You know, I just got good at it,” said Calvin Collier.
Collier is the owner of Smoke Bayou, a very popular barbecue joint in Baton Rouge. So popular that he says he’s one of the top caterers for LSU Football. However, this has not always been the case for him.
“I’ve always wanted to start up a restaurant, but I was always scared to cause I didn’t want people to not like my food,” he said.
That was until 2020. Calvin was working in Africa when he got sick with malaria. He told himself that if he made it through that he would follow his dream. And when he came out on the other side of it, he did just that. He worked hard to make sure that he knew people would love his food.
“I try to cook a brisket when I get home, if I mess up, I’ll cook one every day till I get it right,” said Collier.
It wasn’t just brisket but everything. At one point he said his wife got tired of eating jambalaya so much while he worked to get it just right. A message from an LSU football player came in one day saying that they planned on coming in the next day to try his food — from there it exploded.
“I just be real busy. Running a restaurant is more than just cooking. It’s more than just a job. It’s like everything, it’s 24/7. Cooking is only like 25% of it, then everything else just falls into place.”
Calvin says that he’d rather shut his restaurant down for the day while he focuses on catering events.
“I’d rather people be mad at me because I’m closed rather than be mad that my food is not up to par, trying to do too much.”
Getting in at five in the morning, he smokes everything from ribs, brisket, even crawfish etouffee — and if you can believe it, vegan options. One vegan dish is the smoked jackfruit. Then at eight at night, he usually closes up shop.
Smoke Bayou is located at 4355 Inniswold Road in Baton Rouge.