For a half of a decade now it seems like my life has been cyclical, alternating between years of rapid growth and laying a new foundation on which to build. In 2011 I was cast on Masterchef, started the Bite & Booze Radio Show, quit my day job and decided to chase my dreams not really knowing where that might take me or what dreams I was chasing.

Jay Ducote on Season 2 of Masterchef on Fox

Jay Ducote on Season 2 of Masterchef on Fox

2012 brought about laying the groundwork for those plans. I continued to grow the Bite and Booze blog and radio show and started cooking pop-up dinners.

2013 returned me to a level of growth, working on video projects, freelance writing and more to the point where it became very obvious that I could no longer do it all by myself if I wanted to continue to grow.

At the very beginning of 2014 I made my first hire adding Blair to the team, launched my product line with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, and appeared on an episode of Cutthroat Kitchen. It was a lot of hard work, but it was necessary to provide a platform for what would happen next.

Jay Ducote makes minestrone in a coffee pot on Cutthroat Kitchen, Season 4, Episode 8 "Ho-Ley Pot."

Jay Ducote makes minestrone in a coffee pot on Cutthroat Kitchen, Season 4, Episode 8 "Ho-Ley Pot."

In 2015 I saw another explosion. I filmed and watched myself crush the competition on Food Network Star all the way until finding out I would finish as runner up. I hired two new full time employees. I launched my Blanc du Bois wine and Louisiana Molasses Mustard. I also filmed a pilot for my own show on Travel Channel, Deep Fried America.

Jay Ducote speaks to the camera on Food Network Star season 11.

Jay Ducote speaks to the camera on Food Network Star season 11.

By comparison, 2016 moved much slower. Not that that means slow, by any means, but still a reduced pace. It has been an opportunity to reset, and to place building blocks for the future. We did manage to launch a new batch of Blanc Du Bois, get Jay D's Spicy & Sweet Barbecue Rub and Single Origin Coffee rolling, watch my pilot air on the Travel Channel, and cook at the legendary James Beard House. There were other fun projects along the way from the World Food Championships to the Pineywoods Supper Club and lots of fun travel and pop-up dinners in between. But still, 2016, as crazy of a year as it proved to be, was more about setting up the future. 

Jay Ducote pilot for Deep Fried America airs on Travel Channel. The viewing party was held at The Varsity in Baton Rouge.

Jay Ducote pilot for Deep Fried America airs on Travel Channel. The viewing party was held at The Varsity in Baton Rouge.

I'm expecting fireworks in 2017. Gov't Taco will be at the forefront of our growth. It'll bring a new business model, new employees and a renewed vision for what we do. Bite & Booze and Jay D's will continue to grow, perhaps at an accelerated rate. I'm hoping to get back on TV. I know of nothing for sure right now, but it seems like 2016 was just setting the stage for the lights to be shining even brighter in the new year.

I wish the best of luck to everyone in 2017. May it bring us all joy and prosperity. 

Happy New Year, indeed!

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