Mel Melton’s cooking, as well as his music comes highly recommended. No less of an authority then Clifton Chenier’s son C.J dubbed him the “Zydeco Chef” when he and Melton were bandmates in Bayou Rhythm, which was initially Zachary Richard’s back up band, in the ’80s.

Melton moved from Gastonia to Lafayette Louisiana in the ’60s. Melton’s first musical love was Chicago blues, but he became so enthralled with the lifestyle and music of southern Louisiana that he ended up relocating there. Melton’s harp skills were formidable enough to best Clifton Chenier in a harp cutting contest, winning Melton a standing invitation to play with the innovative bandleader whenever he came to town. Melton bounced around Louisiana and Texas for 20 years playing with Sonny Landreth and Chenier as well as Omar and the Howlers. One of Melton’s tunes, “Congo Square,” has been covered by the Nevilles and John Mayall.

Melton came back to the area in the ’90s after winning the Rolls Royce-Krug Champagne Invitational Chef Competition in Chicago and has been playing his combination of Chicago blues and swampy bayou rhythms as mojo music with an ever changing cast of bandmembers he calls the Wicked Mojos ever since. Melton still whomps up authentic Cajun cuisine as well, putting out a cookbook, Cookie Boy: The Authentic Cajun Recipes of Mel Melton, in 2000. Check out the zydeco chef at Tony’s Bourbon Street, Friday, Jan. 3 and at the Cat’s Cradle, Saturday, Jan. 4.
–Grant Britt