Hebert’s Brings Cajun Cooking to New Location

Contributing Writer

71st STREET WELCOME: Ed Richard with his staff at the new Hebert’s location at 2101 E. 71st St. From left are Richard, Chef Tom Cornelius, Customer Service Representative Angela Boynton, Shipper Kathy Jaramillo and Manager Kim Dunlap.

GTR Newspapers photo

Ed Richard has just moved a little piece of Louisiana a bit north.
For the past eight years Richard (pronounced the Cajun way as Re-shard) has run Hebert’s Specialty Meats from a small shop in The Plaza shopping center at 81st Street and South Lewis Avenue.

A month ago he moved the operation to 2101 E. 71st Street, on the north side of 71st Street between Peoria and Lewis Avenues across the street from the Marriott Southern Hills Hotel. The move, he says, was done for two reasons: first, they own their own building; second, the exposure is wonderful from motorists driving to and from the 71st Street Bridge.

“We’ve added some restaurant facilities,” says Ed with a laugh, “but my wife told me she’d divorce me if I opened a full-scale restaurant. About 90 percent of our business gets their food to go.”

Ed’s introduction to the food industry followed a roundabout route. The native of Lafayette, La. spent time on oilrigs in the Gulf of Mexico, came to Tulsa to work another job, and with no formal training in the food industry had no plans to go into it.

“But my wife and I kept traveling back to Louisiana to visit the folks and every time we went we’d have the neighbors beg us to bring items back that couldn’t be purchased in Tulsa. After awhile we started loading the back with coolers and I decided there was a demand for Cajun food that wasn’t being met. I opened the first store with the idea of simply furnishing authentic Louisiana foods to be carried out and eaten elsewhere.”

Richard does have some cooking in his background. He watched his mother cook when he was growing up and his grandfather was a chef; his brother is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of New York, but Richard personally never took a class. Nevertheless, he is anxious to bring authentic Cajun food to Tulsa.

“Most people have the wrong idea about Cajun cooking. They think everything is fiery hot when in reality it offers a wide variety of heat. Our chicken we serve at our restaurant, for example, has a mild tang but is very mild.”

Still, he admits, if you like your mouth to feel as hot as a dragon who is about to devour a damsel in distress, he can oblige. “We can make it any way you like.”
Hebert’s offers both ready-made foods prepared in the premises and items for the do-it-yourself chef hard to find outside of Louisiana. How long has it been, for example, since you’ve seen a gallon jug of Tabasco Sauce?

“We have a lot of things familiar to Louisiana that you can’t find elsewhere. We also get a lot of our food, including all our fish, from Louisiana.

“We make a wide variety of products and give you instructions so you can simply take them right home and pop them in the oven. We make, for example, over a dozen kinds of sausage. In our shelves you’ll always find etouffees, gumbos, red beans and the like. No matter how your taste runs on a particular night we can satisfy it.”

Meats seemingly heavily peppered are included, though Richard says looks can be deceiving. “What looks like red pepper is actually paprika. It brings out the flavor of the meat and makes the steaks taste wonderful.”

Ed says about 85-90 percent of the food offered is made in his kitchen. About 40 percent of it is shipped out of state. He is one of the few places in Oklahoma that will process a deer, and when deer-hunting season hits, he and his crew are kept incredibly busy.

But nothing, perhaps, hits the fancy as much as his turduckin.
A turducken is a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey.

Into the chicken is stuffed a special cornbread dressing. The making of it is almost a saga in itself.

“We make a stock of beef, pork, giblets, roux and vegetable seasoning. We allow it to cook all night and then we make the cornbread. After straining the stock we cool it and the cornbread to 40 degrees. Then we’re ready to work on the birds.”

Something this special obviously is not made one-at-a-time. “We made about 50 or 60 birds at a time,” Richard says, “and then we package it. The buyer simply places it in a 375-degree oven for 3 hours covered and another hour uncovered. Then it’s ready to eat.”

The exotic turducken is worth every penny. They run from $59.95 (for 8-10 people) to $74.95 (for when 14-16 of your hungry friends show up).

Herbert’s Specialty Meats is open Mondays through Saturdays (Sundays Richard watches whenever possible the New Orleans Saints). The phone number is (918) 298-8400 and the fax is (918) 298-8442.

Updated 10-26-2006

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