Elton Lammie has been working long hours these days, to get The Big Easy open, at least with take out, by mid-April. As described in his title, he’s planning to combine his two talents under one roof, once given the chance.
At one time, there was a third.
Elton has succeeded in his music despite the fact that he has spent more time while growing up playing sports.
Born and raised in British Columbia, Lammie remembers when his interests began to take flight. “I was into music when I was eleven, but I was far more into sports than I was into music. I loved playing hockey. I loved playing football. I would spend all my time playing sports, not practicing any instruments.
“But by my late teens, I started entering these singing contests all across Canada, and started winning them. So, that led to a music career that I didn’t really expect.”
Elton moved to Ridgeway in 2001. “Ridgeway has been home base while touring the world — Italy, Scotland, England, the Carribean — “Wherever they hired me, that’s where I went.”
Two Worlds Colliding
“I remember taking my band from Ontario on a Western Canada tour. We played some shows back near where I’m from and people who I grew up with came to the show. They were talking to my band mates, saying they had no idea that I was even good enough to be in music. And then when my band mates found out I was more into sports, they were also suprised because, in their eyes, they wouldn’t think that someone that was that successful in music would be into sports.”
And then Lammie found Louisiana. “I started going to New Orleans. The first time I went was in 2012. I’ve gone seven times since then. What got me interested in New Orleans is this, in this order: the music, the cuisine, the culture, the history. I just fell in love with the city and fell in love with the people. When COVID shut down the music operations a year ago, I decided to dive further into the New Orleans way of cooking.”
Elton has taken some culinary classes on New Orleans food in the last seven years. “In music, some of my peers have called this a pivot; where you pivot to a new direction.”
Louisiana Comfort Food Comes to Ridgeway
Explaining a bit of The Big Easy background, “The owner of the establishment is a friend of mind, Bill Wightman. He also owns The Chip Shack. At one time, he owned the building on Gorham Road that was Dave’s Tiny Diner and when he was going to take that restaurant over, he had discussed my being one of the cooks there.
“But, when Bill suddenly got an offer for that location on Gorham Road, he sold it. He noticed Sweet Delight on Ridge Road had closed up shop and thought he could open up something there. He knew that ice cream was always popular there for, I think, 13 years or more. So, he thought he’d open an ice cream shop and get me to be his food guy.”
He continued with an insight on the food, “We agreed on a New Orleans menu. It has some of the staple, authentic foods. I’ve tested my Lousiana Chicken on others around here and they said they’ve never had chicken like that anywhere in Niagara. The Chicken and Sausage Gumbo is in New Orleans like what poutine would be known for in Canada. And a Po’ Boy Sandwich, which is a shortened version of a Poor Boy Sandwich, is a large sandwich at least ten inches long. We have six different varieties of this sandwich. We also have an incredible, New Orleans influenced cheeseburger. It’s homemade, fresh everyday, which is unique in this area.
“I call it Louisiana comfort food that is affordable.” Elton stressed the importance of the word affordable in these days.
When pandemic restrictions allow, Elton is going to incorporate live music. “The one thing that I’ve been telling people is that I know that there are hundreds of people who have been chefs for decades in the Niagara Region. So, I can easily say that there are hundreds of people who might be better chefs than me in the kitchen. But I don’t think I can say that about my music. I’ve been able to accomplish so many things in music. I thought, the best thing I can do is incorporate the two things I’m best at.”
The Big Easy Cookshack and Creamery, “The home of the singing chef.”
“So basically, if I get the meals prepared fast enough, and I’ve got a few minutes, I’m going to come out and sit at the piano and I’m going to sing everybody a song, then I’ll go back into the kitchen and continue cooking. That’ll happen numberous times throughout the day.”
Elton hopes to be performing every Sunday at The Big Easy when restrictions lift. “That was kind of a ritual for me. I sang every Sunday night for seven years at the Crystal Chandelier in Crystal Beach. And then I sang for another three years at The Old Winery on Sundays in Niagara-on-the-Lake. So, I’m going to continue that tradition here.”
“Obviously these days, its going to hurt us a little bit because people won’t be able to come in, to dine inside. But, we are excited to be able to do take-out orders and we will be incorporating delivery.”
At the time of this interview, Elton and his team were still planning on opening to the limit restrictions will allow the weekend of April 10. “Our hours of operation will be 11:00-7:00, seven days a week. We’re just setting up everything with our social media accounts and our webpage so all the details will be there.” Website: thebigeasycookshack.ca Or call: 289-876-8490
Photos provided by Elton Lammie