Restaurants in other states demanding Louisiana gator

Skinned alligator
Skinned alligator

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Louisiana delicacy is making its way out of the swamp and into some restaurants up north.
Shows like Swamp People are bringing attention to Cajun cooking and alligator meat is now on some menus in places like New York, California and even Illinois.  For some local restaurants, that means their supply has been low.  

"There's a demand for up to 500 pounds a week, which is a lot," said Michael Cashio, owner of Heads & Tails.

Cashio says in the summer of 2011, he started getting calls from a New York restaurant asking for alligator.  He says alligator ribs are what that restaurant has asked for.

"She wants like an eight- or 10-foot alligator.  Hard to pack to get to New York like that," he said.  Now, his company is shipping alligator meat to even more states.  "Company in Vail, Colorado; sent a lot to Montana, Sacramento, California."

Part of the popularity, Cashio says, is due to all the reality shows in Louisiana.  That meant over the summer, some restaurants here were fresh out.

"Through middle of summer we were out.  Our supply was depleted.  What we put in cold storage and keep on hand - we were out in June, July."

Hurricane Isaac pushed the start of alligator hunting season back, from August to September.  That, Cashio says, cut some of the product back by 30 percent.  So now the demand, in and out of state, outweighs the supply; which in turn, has driven up the price.

"We were paying $7 a pound.  Now it's up to $10," said Cashio.

Now that gator hunters are back on the water, more people are sure to get hooked on Louisiana gator.

"It's just the novelty of it.  People like to try something different."

Cashio says he's making sure he holds on to some of the supply to send with LSU Tiger fans, when they visit the Florida Gators next week.

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