New restaurant in Oakfield brings the flavors of Louisiana to Genesee County
When Corey Brown and Dean Brewer started working together in the kitchen at Sport of Kings they immediately struck up a friendship.
They both liked to cook and had aspirations to stretch their culinary skills.
Brown was born in New Orleans, where he came up through the ranks of some top Bourbon Street-area restaurants and Brewer started 25 years ago as a dishwasher at Sportos and kept looking for ways to learn new things and improve his skills.
Brown moved to Genesee County after meeting a girl from the area who convinced him there was a need for real Cajun dishes in Upstate New York.
Recently, they took over management of a restaurant located in Oakfield -- the former Oak Grill and Cafe -- running it for Kim Turner, Brewer's sister, who leased the location with the specific intention of letting Brown and Brewer put their culinary skills to work.
"Before we started, I had to do a lot of cooking in my house so she can taste it and she can say, 'Okay, I'm not gonna put my money behind it," Brown said.
Much of the menu of the old Oak Grill remains in place while Brown and Brewer introduce Cajun specialties, but some of the items diners might experience at the new Straight Out The Boot include jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, boudin balls, dirty rice, fried chicken, blackened catfish topped with crab meat, and trinity and crawfish.
"Like I say, what we got now, a majority of the stuff still will be on there," Brown said. "But a couple of the things we'll be taking off and we'll be doing more Louisiana-style cooking."
Staying are hamburgers, which Brown said Brewer can grill better than anybody else he knows.
"Dean does his burgers like, man, he makes some mean burger," Brown said. "I don't know. I'll put a burger on the grill they may not come out as juicy and tender as the way he does it."
Cooking came naturally to Brewer, he said. It was the way he was raised.
"I'm a hillbilly from New York," Brewer said. "I was raised on the Southern Tier and the entire family can cook. They just can. I was always in the kitchen. It was just a natural thing. My grandfather told me once, 'The key is to be in the kitchen because that's where the coffee is and where the women usually work.'"
Brown didn't set out to become a cook but once he started working in restaurants and seeing how the people who made the food got the praise for making customers happy, that appealed to him.
His biggest information came from a chef named Greg Craig.
"What he was doing was making big portions like he was a production cook," Brown said. "He did 50 gallons of gumbo, 50 gallons of crawfish one burst. I hear people talk about how good it is, even the workers, the other chefs, the owners, and I'm like, you know, I like that, you know, I like to hear the compliments. So I went over to him one day, I'm like, 'Man, I want to help out, you know, I want to cook like you.' He said he needed an extra chef. 'I need the help.'"
Brown went on to work at Arnauds, off of Bourbon Street, and another restaurant on Bourbon Street and other restaurants, picking up tricks of the trade all along the way, including learning to cook Italian, and learning Greek cuisine when he moved to Batavia.
The name of the restaurant -- Straight Out the Boot -- is a play on the way Louisiana looks on a map. The state is shaped like a boot, and Brown and Brewer want the restaurant to become known for providing really good Louisiana-style meals.
"Straight up, the boot is slang for everything we cooking," Brown said.
So far, Brown said, the Louisiana fare is going over well with diners.
"We've been getting a lot of good feedback off the jambalaya," Brown said. "We get a lot of feedback off the crawfish etouffee. Dean came out with a spicy chicken sandwich with the boom sauce, which is chicken topped with his creative barbecue spices, barbecue sauce. We've been getting good feedback from people."
Straight Out The Boot is located at 7062 Lewiston Road, Oakfield. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. This weekend during Labor Daze, the restaurant is featuring fried chicken.
Photo by Howard Owens. Corey Brown, left, and Dean Brewer