Jul 15, 2010
Du Jour: Jazzmen Rice
225 Baton Rouge
Best friends and Louisiana entrepreneurs George Chin, Andrew Wong and Egbert Ming have started all sorts of businesses since they were kids in Mid-City New Orleans, but none has been as tasty as their latest project. Earlier this year, the three released a new line of locally-grown aromatic rice designed to take on Thai Jasmine, an import that has become wildly popular in the US with the rise in pan-Asian cuisine. Their Jazzmen Rice offers a domestic alternative with a strain of rice developed over 12 years by rice researchers at the LSU AgCenter in Rayne, La.
Chin, Wong and Ming grew up in Chinese immigrant families, attended the same church and schools and watched their parents form successful small businesses. As adults, they started a number of their own companies, teaming up to form a post-Katrina construction business. When demand cooled, they looked for something new. That year, 2008, rice was in short supply in the developing world, sending food markets into a panic. Chin wondered why Louisiana didn't grow more jasmine rice. When they discovered the AgCenter was in fact about to complete research on a variety meant to mimic the flavor of jasmine rice, they invested in a venture to bring it to the marketplace, complete with a logo featuring the iconic image of the most recognizable of "jazz men," Louis Armstrong.
Currently, Jazzmen's $2.50 Louisiana jasmine rice is available in nearly 50 stores in Louisiana and Mississippi, including Associated Grocers supermarkets in Baton Rouge.
Says Chin: "It's fresher, and it tastes just as good if not better than Thai jasmine."