Tucson is about to welcome Sazerac Creole Kitchen & Cocktails in St. Philip’s Plaza, 4280 N. Campbell Ave., set to open Jan. 16.
It's being advertised as the city's only Creole restaurant, which has a few readers a bit mystified: What about Don's Bayou on East Tanque Verde, which serves up crawfish etouffee, po'boys, jambalaya and gumbo and has some pretty remarkable Yelp reviews praising its authentic Cajun cuisine? And The Parish on North Oracle Road has New Orleans-inspired gumbo, crawfish hush puppies and a po'boy among its menu of burgers, sandwiches and drool-worthy bar bites.
Both of those restaurants focus their Louisiana culinary spatulas on Cajun, which shares some dishes with Creole but differs in preparation, seasoning and ingredients.
We found a 2014 USA Today article that asked leading Louisiana chefs to describe the difference between the two. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, who put Louisiana food on the international map, probably summed it up best: “Creole is a grand style of cuisine with delicate blends, sauces, and distinct courses. Cajuns use ingredients from the land, including fish, shellfish, ducks, frogs and nutria. But of course there's crossover, mostly seen in dishes with rice such as gumbo and jambalaya."
And in the forward to his "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen," the famed New Orleans chef who worked in both Cajun and Creole cuisines clarified the distinctions as coming down to ingredients — more peppers and spicy tones to Cajun — and influences — Cajun draws largely from French while Creole adds Spanish, Italian, African and American Indian spices, techniques and traditions. He also said that while both cuisines share some dishes, Creole cooking is more sophisticated than Cajun.
Sazerac's New Orleans-born-and-trained Executive Chef Robert Iaccarino trained under Prudhomme at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.