Lashon Burrell is introducing the Southern palate to Chicagoans one taste bud at a time. Her business, Cajun Café Chicago, provides high-quality, authentic Southern cuisine for corporate dining and special events.
Lashon’s passion for culinary arts began in a gourmet food class she took at her high school in East St. Louis. After graduating, she moved to Chicago to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts at Robert Morris University.
Lashon started Cajun Café Chicago in 2020 to provide home meals and private dining experiences. As her business grew, she began working with corporate partners, such as Chicago Public Schools and Catholic Charities. Now, Cajun Café Chicago focuses solely on corporate dining and events.
Lashon operates her business out of The Hatchery, a food and beverage business incubator co-owned by Allies for Community Business (A4CB) and the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago. “I have found my home here on the West Side at The Hatchery,” said Lashon. “It’s been a great resource for me as a small business trying to grow.”
Lashon gives back to the community by providing free meals and care packages and catering community events hosted by the nonprofit Breakthrough Urban Ministries. Through her partnership with The Hatchery’s Hatch-Made Meals program, Lashon provides nutritious meals to individuals challenged with food insecurity on the West Side of Chicago. She has also worked with the Obama Foundation’s Local Lunchbox program, which aims to provide 100,000 meals to local youth every summer.
“I love being able to promote generational wealth and being able to provide our youth with healthy meals that taste good and are culturally relevant,” said Lashon.
In 2022, Lashon received capital from A4CB which she used to purchase a delivery van. Additionally, Lashon participated in A4CB’s Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Lab (NEL). In collaboration with her NEL business coach and strategist, she worked to launch an e-commerce site, on which she plans to sell consumer packaged goods, including her signature Bayou Sauce.
Lashon employs a team of eight, along with additional staff who assist with event catering.
“My team means the world to me. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the team members that I have,” said Lashon. “I’m proud to say that we built this from the ground up and that we have some amazing things for our future.”