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Monday, Aug. 10, 2020

421 Texas Event Space

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Chef Blake Jackson unveils his latest creative endeavor

Shreveport native and C.E. Byrd High School graduate Blake Jackson majored in international studies AND political science at the University of Mississippi.

He then worked three years for the United States Senate.

So, naturally, Jackson is now the managing partner of an upscale event and catering venue in his hometown – one where he does all the cooking.

In January, Jackson – who owns Drake Catering and Whisk Dessert Bar, added 421 Texas to his growing list of endeavors. Jackson, along with developer Dick Grieder, aims to make the 5-year-old facility the place to hold everything from weddings to receptions, to business events, to Big Band- Era entertainment.

“421 Texas has all the elegance and charm of an old, mid-centuries, downtown building,” Jackson said. “We have met that with the elevated cuisine and service that I’ve brought to the community for the last 10 years.”

When you book an event at 421 Texas (which can handle from 20 to 400 guests), you can use whichever florist, photographer and entertainment group you would like. However, you will leave the cooking to Jackson, whose menu features his Nouveau Louisiane Cuisine.

“It’s some traditional Louisiana southern dishes, which are elevated with international ingredients and techniques,” Jackson explained.

For example, “One of our signature dishes is a caramelized fennel Oysters Rockefeller Risotto,” Jackson said. “It’s a mix of caramelized fennel, spinach, green onions and garlic, cooked down with white wine and oyster liqueur. Then, we add our rice and finish with parmesan and crispy oysters.”

Not bad for someone who wanted to have a career in politics.

“I’m self-taught,” the 33-year-old husband and father (one child and one on the way) said of his culinary talents. “I really don’t have a very lengthy restaurant resume. All of this has just kind of been developed over time.”

Speaking of time, that’s what attracted Jackson to 421 Texas. No longer does he have to spend time cooking in a kitchen somewhere else, then taking time to load up the finished product and bringing it to the venue.

“We recently added an open-concept kitchen, which made us the first venue in our area to have such a visible aspect of the food being prepared,” Jackson said. “You will be able to see my team working in a really beautiful, nice, clean, stainless steel environment, all tucked away inside this old art deco-style building. The building itself is absolutely stunning. There really isn’t a better setting for a formal event or wedding.”

While the kitchen may look nice, it’s functionality will allow Jackson to prepare food in a way he hasn’t been able to in the past.

“Having an on-site kitchen, from a catering perspective, makes a world of difference in what I’m able to offer,” Jackson said. “As a caterer, I’m kind of limited in what I can do off-site. On-site, there are really a world of possibilities. That’s something that’s not really available at all venues.”

But food won’t be the only thing that’s “elevated” at 421 Texas. In fact, to some guests, what they drink will be more important than what they eat.

“We just really hope to focus on some classically-made cocktails and some newage cocktails,” Jackson said. “It’s part of a normal catering bar set-up, so we hope to have custom martini bars and things along those lines, to really offer a wow factor to your guests.”

And what about those Big Band-era shows, which Jackson thinks will be perfect for 421 Texas?

“I’ve been working on some vintage menus that match the era, as well as a vintage cocktail list, to really kind of bring the whole feel to life, as well as some awesome entertainment,” Jackson said.

But first, COVID-19 must subside, and the governor must loosen restrictions on the size of gatherings.

“We’ve really taken this time to make sure we have all of our ducks in a row and that we’re prepared for when life is a little bit more back to normal,” Jackson said. “We have the ability to put on those events we planned to do.”

Events that – because of all 421 Texas has to offer – will have a level of sophistication that can be hard to find in Shreveport.

“I think this place is going to serve as an opportunity to create some events that aren’t really seen here,” Jackson said. “We’re looking for the client that dares to be a little different and dreams big, because that’s how we operate.”

To learn more about 421 Texas, you may visit www.421texas.net.

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