There’s a little restaurant in Western Massachusetts named Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou. And while the address may be Liberty Street in Springfield, the atmosphere is most definitely Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
For more than twenty years, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou has been serving some of the best Cajun, Creole, and Louisiana cuisine you can get outside of the Big Easy.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “Bold flavors, full flavored, it’s all fresh. You just got to try it.”
While the food keeps customers coming in, it’s Chef Wayne Hooker himself who keeps them coming back.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “I enjoy people. I like to have fun. Anybody who knows me knows. If I say I’m throwing a party, you absolutely want to come to my party.”
And at the Mamou, it’s always a party.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “It’s lively, everybody’s friendly, and that’s just the way we do things. That’s my philosophy. Laissez les bons temps rouler. Let the good times roll.”
Chef Wayne’s love of Louisiana runs deep. So when he decided to open his own restaurant back in the 1990’s there was no question he was going to serve a taste of the South.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “I just wanted to do something different, I wanted to give the area something they didn’t have. We didn’t need another pizza parlor, Chinese restaurant, Italian food, etc, etc. And it’s fun.”
And what makes things at the Mamou even more fun is that this place is BYOB.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “There ain’t no bar, you bring your own! People bring bottles, they share with people. A lot of people say it’s like sitting in their own home, in their own kitchen or something, and having a good time and sharing their experiences and drinks with people sitting next to them.”
Of course the difference between your kitchen and Wayne’s kitchen is that you have to pay for the food here, but the prices are shockingly affordable, and there’s one ingredient that won’t cost you anything at all.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “This is a fat free restaurant. We do not charge for the fat. I’ll put butter and everything if I had a chance. Butter, fat is good. Everybody agree with me?”
If fat is good, then the food here is great. Especially an entree so tasty Wayne named it after himself: The Big Mamou Chef Wayne.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “My Mamou is crawfish tails, shrimp, broccoli, yellow squash, sautéed in a lobster brandy cream sauce, served with rice and puff pastry. It’s rich, it’s a fat trap, if you’re on a diet, don’t mess with it.”
In fact, if you’re on a diet, just stay away from this place altogether, because you’re going to want to eat everything coming out of the kitchen; from the Cheesy Cajun meatballs with penne and spicy tomato gravy, to the Blackened Rib Eye with Barbecue shrimp, to the classic New Orleans style Gumbo.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “That’s home cooking, that’s what New Orleans is all about, flavors, comfort food. It’s like mom. It’s supposed to make you feel good.”
And perhaps no New Orleans dish will make you feel better than Jambalaya. Although Chef Wayne’s recipe breaks from the traditional one pot preparation, so he can make sure nothing gets overcooked.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “Jambalaya traditionally is a highly seasoned rice dish. And everything is cooked together. Here I do my spin on it, whereas I’m not one to cook all the seafood and sausage as long as I cook rice. So I make a jambalaya sauce and I have seasoned rice. We start ours fresh in the pans, with the shrimp and the sausage, the onions, peppers, and celery, versus it all being cooked in rice. Even people from Louisiana, they say, ‘It’s not our Jambalaya but we like this, this is a good idea.'”
Appetizers at the Big Mamou aren’t to be overlooked; like the Fried Green Tomatoes and Crawfish Tails, Southern Style Spinach and Chicken Cakes with sautéed spinach and mushroom sauce, and the sensationally spicy Jerked Thunder Thighs, whose fiery flavor often take customers by surprise.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “They sit back. They sit back. ‘Damn!’ It’s spicy, it’s probably the spiciest thing on the menu.”
Not all the dishes here are spicy, but everything is always hot, because the second it goes from pan to plate, it’s on the way to your table.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “I don’t do cold food. I don’t believe in it. If it’s plated, it goes out. When you get a plate in front of you, you have to sit back and blow on it, because it’s hot. I like to see the smoke, I like to see the steam coming off it.”
And while Chef Wayne is certainly serious about serving great food, it’s just as important to him to always let the good times roll.
Wayne Hooker – Chef/Owner, Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou: “We just let people be themselves when they come in, just be yourself. No frills, just be yourself. Laissez les bons temps rouler!”
Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou
63 Liberty St.
Springfield, MA 01103