Cajun Mount Rushmore – 4 Ambassadors Of Culture
Located in Keystone, South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into a mountain featuring former US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. The monument has come to be known as a symbol of American greatness. That got us to thinking… if we had to opportunity to build a Mount Rushmore in Cajun country, which faces would we forever immortalize on our mountain?After some careful deliberation, we’ve selected four individuals who took the Cajun lifestyle to the entire world, and made the world better for it:
1. Troy Landry
Star of History Channel’s “Swamp People”, Troy Landry is an alligator hunter from Pierre Part, Louisiana. But despite his reality TV fame, Troy has never lost sight of who he is and where he’s from. While many other so-called ‘Cajun’ characters have come and gone on reality TV, Troy remains beloved in South Louisiana for his authenticity.
Troy lands on our Mount Rushmore not for his gator hunting exploits, but for being an ambassador for Cajun culture to the world. Troy embodies a century-old Cajun lifestyle, has a strong work ethic, lives the simple life, puts family first, and always has a smile on his face.
2. Wayne Toups
Hailing from Crowley, Louisiana, Wayne Toups has become one of the most commercially successful Cajun and zydeco music musicians of all-time. Picking up the accordion at the age of 13, Toups has gone on to perform in over 26 different countries on four different continents. Le Boss has accumulated many awards throughout his career, most notably a Grammy Award in 2013. Wayne is a member of The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, Gulf Coast Hall of Fame, and Cajun French Music Hall of Fame.
Wayne is included on our Cajun Mount Rushmore for sharing Cajun and zydeco music with more people than anyone ever has before.
3. Paul Prudhomme
Celebrity chef and Opelousas, Louisiana native Paul Prudhomme is credited with popularizing Cajun cuisine with the world. The youngest of 13 children, Prudhomme rose to prominence when he became the Executive Chef at Commanders’ Palace in New Orleans in 1975, turning the restaurant in to a world renowned culinary destination. Prudhomme went on to open K-Pauls with his late wife Kay Prudhomme in 1979. In 1984, Prudhomme released his first cookbook Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, which went on to win a Culinary Classic Book Award.
Chef Paul won the Bon Appétit Humanitarian Award in 2006 for his tireless efforts to aide in the New Orleans restoration process following Hurricane Katrina. Prudhomme donated his food and his services to the people of New Orleans, cooking thousands of meals for military and stranded residents in the days following the storm.
Prudhomme is included on our Cajun Mount Rushmore for being the face of Cajun cuisine, for sharing our food with the world, and for staying authentic to his food and his culture.
4. George Rodrigue
The late New Iberia, Louisiana native George Rodrigue gained notoriety for his paintings of Louisiana landscapes, however Rodrigue rose to international fame when he was honored as an Absolut Vodka artist in 1992. Rodrigue’s iconic Blue Dog became an international phenomenon. The Blue Dog is Rodrigue’s interpretation of the Cajun myth of the loup-garou – a half human, half wolf swamp creature. The Blue Dog has been featured in national ad campaigns for Xerox and Absolut Vodka.
There you have it, four great representations of Cajun ambassadors, immortalized in stone (if we only had a mountain in Louisiana). We know there are plenty of great examples of other Cajuns that have made their mark on the national scene, including Jake Delhomme, Calvin Borel, Ali Landry, the list is endless. But, in the pantheon of great Cajun names, these four brought the Cajun society to the world through music, art, entertainment and of course though our stomachs.