Syrup with soul: how old family recipe from Louisiana cane country earned cult following among New Orleans chefs

January 2016
By:Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur, The New Orleans Advocate

Early one Saturday morning, chef Amy Sins, of Langlois Culinary Crossroads, parked her car near Restaurant August in the CBD to await a delivery of what she describes as “liquid gold.” Kelly Fields of the bakery and cafe Willa Jean, Alex Harrell of Angeline, and a few other chefs were also present at what felt like a clandestine culinary gathering, each eagerly anticipating a shipment of the same item.

This coveted ingredient is Poirier’s Pure Cane Syrup, and it has lately been trickling into the culinary arsenal of well-known New Orleans chefs. The amber-hued delicacy is produced by Charles Poirier, following the same method used by his great-great-grandfather, Anatole Poirier (1873-1941). The entire operation — from growing the sugar cane to boxing the bottled syrup — takes place on his property in Youngsville, near Lafayette.

Word has spread from one chef to another. Sins discovered Poirier’s through Fields. She wanted her own stash, so she “stalked” Poirier through Facebook and placed an order. She sells the bottled syrup at Langlois, a combination cooking school and supper club in the Marigny. She incorporates it into her cooking, where it’s baked into spice cake, braised on pork, swathed over fresh-baked biscuits, or used as simple syrup in whiskey sours.

The syrup has a subtly sweet flavor and a smooth consistency. Hold a bottle up to the light and it’s nearly translucent. And although comparisons are often drawn between Poirier’s and Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup, some chefs say the two function much differently.