“It’s all in the history!” is the ever-appropriate slogan for Chef Panderina Soumas’s line of culinary products, Soumas Heritage Creole Creations. Known for wearing her signature head-wrap, Soumas’s passion for cooking runs deep in her blood as both sides of her family had reputations in south Louisiana for their ability to whip up delicious cuisine inspired by their cultural backgrounds.

“Cooking for me just came natural. Those ancestors that I didn’t know, I found out I got it honestly from them,” she said.

Soumas’s grandfather was a chief cook and baker on a marine merchant ship and sailed around the world multiple times. She remembers watching her great-grandmother mix spices such as curry and garlic powder. She also had a great uncle who owned a restaurant in Mandeville, LA.

When she moved to Shreveport, she learned that people’s tastes up north were a little different than in the south and her method of cooking Louisiana favorites, such as red beans and rice, became a hit among friends. She was often asked to cook certain dishes for events and it wasn’t long before people began bringing her the ingredients necessary to prepare her family recipes.

In the ‘90s, Soumas retired from Primestar in Shreveport but never thought she would start a second career as a chef and business owner. When her son suggested that she try selling her pralines, seasoning blend (Panderina Soumas’s Creole Explosion) and red beans and rice, she decided to give it a shot and set up a booth at Barksdale Air Force Base. After one week of selling her products, she made close to $1,200 and realized her son might be right.

“You could have scraped me off the ceiling. I’ve never made that kind of money, and I’m thinking, I made this just off of red beans?”

Soumas started selling her products at local farmers markets, Mudbug Madness and at Texas Avenue Makers Fair, and before she knew it, her fan base was growing. In fact, she was featured in Louisiana Kitchen & Culture and was asked to be an ambassador for the 2015 official Shreveport-Bossier Visitors Guide appearing on billboards throughout the area.

Over 15 years since vending at Barksdale, Soumas has added numerous other items, such as Gris Gris Good Luck Soup/Stew Mix and Jumpin’-Da’Broom Jambalaya Mix and a cookbook, Soumas Heritage Creole Cookbook to her collection.

“Food to me is a decision maker,” she said. “Food is always a common ground.”

Owner: Panderina Soumas
Available at SoumasHeritageCreole.com