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Houston-based Chef and restaurateur Sonny Payne offers recipes and cooking techniques for authentic Louisiana Cajun cuisine!


Sonnys Collage

Biography facts: I opened the Crazy Cajun Food Factory on October 28, 1982. My first full year in business we were selected best restaurant in Houston in January 1984, we were selected Best Cajun Food in the Houston Galveston area by Houston Monthly and broadcast on Houston area TV for 7+ minutes interview over 200 times in the Houston media area and distributed in doctors and all business offices in over 700 thousand magazines.

We were selected best cafe in all of southeast and southwest Texas in a yearly book publication "Best Cafe's in Texas", Houston Monthly later awarded me best seafood using my Miraculous and Blackened flavors in the Houston Galveston area, even best French fry, and Houston Press voted me “best blackened oyster in bout 96". Diners Club International listed us in the top 5 rests in Texas. We were written up in every major newspaper in the world, like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, not to mention feature articles and too numerous to count mentions in the Houston Chronicle and Houston Post and most magazines in the world and featured on documentaries in Russia and Japan, national news on TV in all the countries of the world, flown to foreign countries to feed numerous presidents of Central America, and Europe and national leaders as well, I’ve even cooked in dictators palaces.

I fed most of the world’s most famous broadcasters from America to Russia and Japan, to Bolivia, to France and England and Germany, from Walter Cronkite, to Barbara Walters. My favorites in the broadcast industry is Ira Sprickstein and Blake Sell, I was featured on national news for a week on National Public Radio in a several minute interview; and, many of the dignitaries, and the who's who of the world have flown me to feed them. I’ve fed innumerable movie and TV stars from Tom Hanks, James Bosemy, Kevin Bacon, Ron Howard, to Robert Duval, Shelly Duval, the Priest from Mash, the Chaplain from Willacy- a twin to Saskatchewan, The Ugly one, to feeding the crew and actors from Cheers, To Ellie May from the Beverly Hillbillies, to The Little Rascals, James Drury from the Virginian, Melisa Gilbert my sweetheart, Bruce Willis’s crew and stars from Armageddon, the crew from Apollo 13, Gene Hackman’s crew from Blue Moon, Clint Eastwoods crew, Mission Impossible; and, soon to be famous Ben Aldrich, soon to be famous Opera and Gospel singer Lillie Ruth Danielle Payne, Country and Gospel singer Sondra Inez Goonie and her beautiful and precious daughter, Princess Hannah Goonie, already famous to her Pa Pa Sonny; and, too many more celebrities and special people, to even try to name them all.

Most of the country and western singers, from Willie Nelson, Kenny Rodgers, and Dollie Parton Bands. I’ve been privileged to cook for and or be in the company of Clint Black, George Strait, Hank Thompson, Johnny Nash, Joe Sample, and Melissa Gilbert, Earl The Pearl Cambell, Bum Phillips; Attorneys Race Horse Hanes, Joe Jamail, Byron Kirkpatrick, Red Loftus, Chris Ramey, John Atwood, to sports figures like Akeem The Dream, Marvin Haggler, Yanic Noah and Dr. Jessie Kirkpatrick my friend and dentist from Baytown Tx, on and on, celebrities too numerous to name.

Evangelists Peter Lord, “Just get over it”-Dr. Doug and Larry White of Weatherford TX, Evangelist TV host James, Betty, Rhonda, Terry, Robinson, Jack Taylor, Dudley, Betsy and TD and Sarah Hall, Jack Hayford, Franklin Graham and family, Railroad Lay Preacher Lum and Vera Bloomer from Monroe La. also, Missionary Irene Depkin, and Rev. Ray Mears an awesome Godly singer and famous naturalist photographer from the Monroe and West Monroe area as well; and more from many countries of the world, along with them I must mention the following, some local, as the closest to God almighty that I know, catcher of gators, and turtles, wild game trapper, sharecropper, furniture maker, my granddad, the Rev. Hines and Lili Mae Stephens of Snake Ridge LA., Pastors Steve and Becky Riggle, Garret and Andrea Booth, from Grace community Church of Gulf Freeway, and Bruce Wesley and staff from Clear Creek Community Church of Egret Bay, Dr. Floury Ann Crittendon precious singer and minister of God, who is so beautiful that when people see her with her husband , they automatically think of The Beauty and The Beast; and, many more of Gods most faithful servants, of which I must mention the Above and the following saints I know as having played integral parts in blessing my life; Cliff and June Giles, Chris and Marty Barden, John and Sharon Aldrich of Keepsake Video’s In Friendswood, TX., Pastor’s Gene and Edell Gloor, and many more, but especially Rick and all the guys of my Life Recovery Class at Clear Creek Community Church; all of which inspire me to continue to laugh and love through faith; and, to continue to show up for The Battles of Life.

Should you choose to participate in this or similar classes, give us a call or an email, get hooked up, and keep going back as I believe it would equip you to do the same, and let’s not kid ourselves or others, we all need a little help keeping a smile on our faces. Some folks mess up yo day by a sayin good morning to you; that’s why I had a sign in my café, saying everybody coming here makes me happy, some by coming, some by leaving. Life’s the same, circumstances come at us so hard and fast, and life throws us such deadly curves, its good to have a support group, many don’t have anybody. I am fortunate to be surrounded by folks who’ve been human and still are and ain’t to proud to partake of and share “The Spices of Life”.

Watch my lips, I been to the buffet of life; and now, by the grace and mercy of God almighty, I’m priviledged to get to go back for seconds, and I am not gone waste my time on fillers, I’m going for the good stuff. I had enough money to burn an elephant in a hurricane with $100 bills, had a Mr. T Starter Kit, 2 and 3 caret diamonds on every finger, a 6 caret diamond studded gold bracelet; and lost it all, and in the process I found it can’t love ya back. I’ve learned that your family and the friends God give ya that really care if you live or die is yo true wealth. No charge for the sermon, which is really, just being real and the friend to you I’d want you to be to me. For those who ask for it, I will send you a copy of a poem called “I AM YOUR FRIEND” that will best express my philosophy and anything I’d hope TO share with you about the journey and true “SPICES OF LIFE”.

Of much less importance, I have been announced before foreign Senate and Congress Joint Sessions and led national prayer breakfasts, spoke before national conventions in foreign countries, and, I’ve been on advisory boards of foreign countries assisting Central American and European countries transition to the free market system; and of real importance, have helped improve living standards and play a part to bring hope for millions of men, women, and children of all races and creeds. I was interviewed by the London times on reasons for doing humanitarian tours of Romania, Hungry and Central America and Asia.

Get a load of this: All this transpired as a result of a mere over achieving restaurateur with a heart for God, a deep patriotic love for my country America, Jesus and a desire to pass it on, the love, the many blessings I was and am privileged to enjoy, both spiritually and financially, to all of humanity that I could. I even like apple pie, mom and Chevrolet. By the way, jumping from capitol letters to small and back to capitol, and mile long sentences is my Cajun way of punctuating and enunciating; so, as pastor of pastor Dr. Doug White would say, “just get over it.”

For my horrendous grammar, punctuation and such, please don’t blame Francis Morris one of my high school English teachers, a most beautiful lady who taught me better than this, but mainly who fed my idealist and my romanticist nature; through getting me fascinated with the stories, the power and beauty of literary works and words, thru literature, and the only way I passed her class was spelling and definitions which compensated for my never learning the parts of speech; nor should you blame Clarice Kenny, my other “beautimous” English teacher who taught me “mo detailed and complicated words”, and how to use and fuse them to communicate broad, delicate, and sensitive feelings, that words mattered, and how to paint pictures with words; and, in friviolity, casually throw out such stuff as, “most assuredly, kind sir, my motive is to irrevocably demonstrate multitudinous specificity in my purile dissembling and to be careful how I demonstrate my audacity in doubting your veracity, to the point of insinuating you would prevaricate, even in a moment of childish dissembling; or, by displaying bombastic pomposity.
I never passed freshman English thru 7 years of college, never learned the parts of speech, but I could use it pretty well, as in my first debate, a national debate, against major Universities of America, I placed second, and that because I angered some Yankee judges cause I could talk so fast and plain with my four front teeth missing, and that the issue I thought was most important, was in fact the most important issue, as is clearly demonstrated today in the state of the American union; and that their left wingers could not stand or measure up to me.

AND: a special thanks TO my football coach and life mentor Jim Turner who was a major force and mentor in the shaping and direction my life has followed, in the good aspects, that is. I will of necessity elaborate on this in later communiqués, as I hope TO pass on the invaluable part he played in my success so you may know how special you are; and TO help insure you have the proper perspective, which is all most lack TO parlay their assets and talents into a winning combo. I hope you comeback TO check out the true knowledge and wisdom I hope TO share and that is best depicted in Proverbs 1-31, but especially in proverbs 1-8.

Bottom Line: I salute the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all and pray that everybody that gives a hoot about her and the God who made her great, will stand up and say so every opportunity; and that not only for everybody else, but to erase the shame we have to feel as individuals at being silent and not pitching a fit while the carpet baggers took us over. I stand restored in repentance and hope to proclaim it by my lifestyle, my words, and my actions: To God be the glory. And if I could sing to you, it would be two main songs, Amazing Grace and America.

Oh heck, if ya make it this far, know that I can’t stand it, I gotta kick it up to 4 songs and add The Battle Hymn of The Republic and “The King is Coming!

And by the way, if nobody else but me enjoyed the past rendition, I did, and I approve of it.


Sonny Payne
Feel free to contact me at sonny@crazy-cajun.com