CAJUN humorist and chef Justin Wilson, host of `Cookin' Cajun' and other shows, dead at 87

Thursday, September 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Justin Wilson, the Cajun humorist and chef whose distinctive accent delighted viewers of his ``Cookin' Cajun'' television show, has died. He was 87.

His daughter Sarah Sue Easterly said Wilson died Wednesday in Baton Rouge. She would not give details but said more information would be released later Thursday.

Over Wilson's career, he released five cookbooks, 27 albums of short stories and an album of Christmas songs. He was host of several cooking programs, including ``Louisiana Cookin'.''

He referred to himself as JOOS-tain and became known for the expression: ``I ga-ron-tee!'' (guarantee), from the Cajun ``J'vous garantis.''

``Cajun cooking is the ability to take what you have and create a good dish and season it right,'' Wilson told The Associated Press in 1990.

``It isn't all that hard, but so few people know how to take what they have and put it together and season it properly,'' he said. ``It's creative cooking _ that's all it is.''

``I am a gourmet, but I am more of a gourmand,'' he explained. ``A gourmet is somebody that's an epicurean. But a gourmand is somebody that's a P-I-G hog and that's what I am.''

A native of Amite, La., Wilson had lived in Summit, Miss., for about six years, his daughter said.

His last syndicated series of shows was titled ``Easy Cooking.''

Wilson called himself a ``half-bleed'' Cajun. His father was Louisiana's commissioner of agriculture for 32 years, and his mother, Olivet, was Louisiana French. She taught him how to cook.

``She was a great improviser,'' Wilson said. ``She'd cook a dish and we'd go 'Mama, w'at's this here, hanh?' And she'd say, 'Children, that's a mus-go. It mus' go down yo' t'roat.'''

Some Cajuns found his fractured language annoying, but Wilson insisted he didn't mean to ridicule. He said his critics were ``people who take themselves too seriously.''

Originally a safety engineer, he was inspired to pursue a career in public speaking after he met Will Rogers in the 1930s.

``He told me always to tell 'em clean, and always tell your audience something serious _ or they'll think you're a complete fool,'' he recalled.

Survivors include three daughters.