Aaron Gelfand has been fishing the waters of southeastern Louisiana for the better part of twenty-five years, first with his dad and then with his friend and business partner, Bobby Monsted.
Being out on those waters got into his blood so much that he became a professional fishing guide.
“It’s a beautiful environment,” said Gelfand, 38, “and there’s nothing more exhilarating than having a fish at the end of your rod.”
And that exhilaration is felt often here in what Gelfand says are some of the best fisheries in the world.
Whether it’s redfish, wahoo or speckled trout, “on a good day out there you can catch a hundred in a few hours,” he said. “That’s why we eat so well here in Louisiana.”
But ever since Hurricane Katrina, “it’s hard not to pay attention to how rapidly everything is disappearing, the land loss,” said Gelfand. Wetlands that he and Monsted used to fish are complete open water now. “Think about that – all those points, the islands and places for fish to sit on and hang out and pick shrimp coming around the point, all those are gone.”
While people are still going down there and catching fish, “you can talk to any old timer down there and they’ll tell you the difference between how it used to be and how it is now, and it’s bad,” said Gelfand.
While alarming on a large scale, the situation affected Gelfand personally, as he realized he’d have to start focusing his life (and livelihood) on something else.
He and Monsted had talked over the years about starting a barbeque joint together. “We thought it’d be a fun little pipe dream,” said Gelfand, but they never acted.
But two years ago, a sno-ball stand off of LA 23, just across from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse that the two had eyed as a possible spot for their barbecue venture, became available for lease, and the two jumped. They rented the adjacent metal structure – a former fruit stand – to offer some seating, and opened for business.
Their Texas-style barbecue immediately took off in an area dominated by seafood.
Monsted is the serious barbecuer, Gelfand said. “He was the one with all the brains behind everything, and I just decided to partner up with him and put in a little muscle.” But they’re both up at 4 a.m. to make their small business go.
Expansion has been fast, and they are looking into building a larger seating area and maybe a bar.
LA 23 Barbeque is located at 9661 LA 23 Hwy. They’re open Monday through Friday, from11 a.m. until they run out of food, but Gelfand said they are now trying to stay open for dinner on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
To learn more, visit their Facebook page or http://www.la23bbq.com.