Testimonials and Reviews

“...I must admit that your canned crawfish product is still the best that I ever saw - I continue to believe that it would be interesting to try to discover the scientific basis for its quality retention, but I'm pretty sure Lionel is correct about the quality of the metal can...I wish you all the best as you bring out your line of Cajun Gourmet Food products!”

Sam Godber, Professor of Food Science, LSU, retired

Seafood line aims for quality
Published by The Baton Rouge Advocate, Tommy C. Simmons, Advocate food editor, Sep 17, 2009

BREAUX BRIDGE — “The metal can is the container; that’s all it is,” said Lionel Robin as he introduced his new line of Robin’s frozen seafood products at a tasting party in Breaux Bridge.

Many cooks think of canned foods as inferior in quality, Robin continued. “I’ve found that the metal can is by far the best container for ensuring the freshness of frozen etouffee and gumbo. It absolutely seals in the flavor and freshness of the crawfish, shrimp and crab – far better than a freezer box and bag.”

Chef Robin’s new line of frozen seafood gumbos, bisque and etouffees are cooked, canned and frozen at Robin’s family restaurant in Henderson. The products feature Louisiana-harvested, deep-water crawfish, blue crab and white shrimp.

The frozen seafood products are not inexpensive. Robin’s signature dish, his rich, naturally colored yellow-orange crawfish etouffee, is $35 a can. The can contains 1-1/2 pounds of Louisiana crawfish tails in a lightly seasoned sauce.

“My seafood is the best. I buy the deep-water crawfish, Gulf shrimp and crab myself. I don’t cut corners. The dishes are cooked simply in a way that captures the flavor essence of the crawfish, shrimp and crab. These entrees are for seafood lovers – people like myself,” Robin said, “who only want the best quality seafood.”

Robin recalled talking with Charles Brandt, the chef/owner of Chalet Brandt, a fine dining restaurant in Baton Rouge in the 1980s and 1990s. “Mr. Brandt told me that he wasn’t trying to be the biggest restaurant in the world, just the best, and that it was important to do what you believe in. He pointed out that his restaurant wasn’t for everybody. It was for customers who want quality.

“Quality,” Robin said, “is what I value. These seafood entrees won’t be for everybody. I want to sell them to people who like good food.”

Robin’s Cajun Gourmet seafood entrees aren’t easy to buy. Right now, customers won’t be able to find the Robin’s cans in the frozen foods section in area stores. The products are only sold at Robin’s restaurant in Henderson, on the Web site at http://www.robincajunfood.com or by calling (337) 228-7594.

Mike Robicheaux and Sandy Kaplan, business partners with Robin in producing and marketing Robin’s Cajun Gourmet seafood entrees, are confident that Robin’s products will gradually build a customer base.

Robicheaux, who has a background in oil field services, sees the product from a different perspective than Robin.

“We know Lionel has a great tasting etouffee and gumbo,” Robicheaux said. “I think this product is perfect for tailgating and customer entertaining. Cooking the product is like cooking from scratch. The product is unique because it affords everyone the experience of having good Louisiana seafood because Lionel knows whom to buy seafood from and how to cook it in a way that preserves the fresh taste.”

Robicheaux predicts that the enterprise will sell 10,000 cans of Robin’s Cajun Gourmet seafood products in the first year and as many as 50,000 cans annually by year three.

Kaplan, owner of Kaplan Advertising & Production in Lafayette, said it’s already proving to be a challenge to not grow the product too fast.

“We had calls from Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Disney World and Pillsbury, but their first orders were five times bigger than we can do in a year. I don’t see us ever being able to supply those kinds of customers because the three of us are committed to using only Louisiana seafood in the etouffees, gumbos and bisque. The key is the seafood quality,” Kaplan pointed out, “and Lionel said he’s tasted the imported shrimp, crawfish and crab, and the imported just doesn’t compare.

“We believe he’s right about emphasizing quality,” Kaplan added, “and there are plenty of people who will want the best. Who knows? Maybe down the road Louisiana will be able to provide enough quality seafood to supply bigger customers like Pillsbury and the upscale Las Vegas and Disney World dining establishments.”

Currently, there are seven Robin’s Cajun Gourmet food products available: Crawfish Étouffée, 24-ounce can, $35; Shrimp Étouffée, 24-ounce can, $35; Crawfish Bisque, 24-ounce can, $25; Seafood Gumbo, 24-ounce can, $25; Crawfish Gumbo, 24-ounce can, $25; Shrimp & Okra Gumbo, 24-ounce can, $25; and Crabmeat Gumbo, 24-ounce can, $25. Recipes for using the products are available online at http://www.robincajunfood.com.

Tasting notes

Robin’s Crawfish Étouffée was densely packed with crawfish tails. The can will make four nice servings with rice. While the $35 price tag may seem high, consider that you can buy this product year-round, and the price of crawfish tails alone during the holiday season gets up to nearly $20 a pound.

Corinne Cook and I tried Robin’s Crawfish Étouffée heated right out of the can, and we were impressed with the taste. It was mildly seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked with onions only, no celery, garlic or bell pepper. If you like more vegetables in your etouffee, you can sauté them separately and stir them in before serving.

Cook watched Lionel Robin’s wife, Peggy, prepare a crawfish appetizer for the tasters. She made several dozen bite-size appetizers from one can of Robin’s Crawfish Étouffée.

Robin’s Shrimp Étouffée was also packed with seafood. In this case, white shrimp harvested from the Gulf of Mexico. The Shrimp Étouffée is made with the usual combination of vegetables, onions, bell peppers and celery. The shrimp were large and tasted fresh.

Robin’s Seafood Gumbo featured a light brown stock, the Cajun vegetable trinity (onions, bell peppers and celery), white shrimp, lump blue crabmeat and crawfish. There is plenty of seafood in the product. The gumbo is lightly seasoned so that cooks can season to their own taste preference.

What impressed both of us about the Robin’s Cajun Gourmet entrees was the amount of seafood packed into each can. “The seafood tasted fresh,” Cook said, “and there was so much. I think these are versatile products, too. I could see making a corn and crawfish soup with Robin’s Crawfish Étouffée that could serve a crowd.’