Services for James Debon Lasyone will be held at 2:00 pm Sunday, June 28, 2015 at Blanchard-St-Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches, LA. Interment will follow at Memory Lawn Cemetery in Natchitoches, LA. A visitation will be held Saturday, June 27, 2015 at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
James grew up as a sharecropper’s son in Dodson, a village in Winn Parish, Louisiana and enjoyed meat pies from street vendors when his family came to town in Natchitoches. He could never have imagined back then that he would single handedly put the famous “Lasyone’s Meat Pie” on the map worldwide. In the 1960’s, James Lasyone was running a little butcher shop in town and selling meat to the ladies that were making meat pies at home, which was the only way to get them back in the day. In the mid-1960’s he began experimenting with recipes to make his own pies and began selling some over the butcher’s counter at the store – the Live Oak Grocery. In 1967, he opened his restaurant in a small retail space near the meat market. It has over time and to this day become a southern food landmark now owned and operated by his daughters, Angela and Tina.
No food in Louisiana is more famous than the Lasyone’s Meat Pie of Natchitoches. When the Spanish settled Natchitoches, they brought with them the empanada, the forefather of the meat pie. But its transformation from humble hand-held food to a leading menu item in restaurants, catering venues and sports arenas worldwide could not have been possible without the vision of James Lasyone.
There is no other place in Natchitoches that can boast of more celebrity sightings, TV and magazine exposure, grueling bridge card games, business deals made over breakfast or lunch, family memory making at the tables of this standard blue-collar Southern diner and as the New York Times states, “….the best reason to visit Natchitoches is the meat pies – and the best ones in town can be found at Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen and Restaurant.” James and his wife, JoAnn, can be credited as the original trailblazers for the tourism industry in Natchitoches. People from all over the world have stopped in to try one of their meat pies, as a result of the magazine and book articles, national and international newspapers features, radio and television highlights including Southern Living, The New Yorker, Gourmet Magazine, Calvin Trillin’s Third Helpings book, The Houston Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, papers from France, Italy and Spain and On the Road with Charles Kuralt and Good Morning America just to name a few. Starting in 1967 with a used Garland stove at a small location on Second Street in Natchitoches, James could never have imagined how his life would impact so many.
He was generous chef and his generosity extended far beyond the kitchen. James was an amazing father who’s influence on his daughters, Angela and Tina, continues today as they bring the family business to even greater success, mass producing meat pies for major clients and delivering the highly recommended fares of red beans and sausage, dirty rice, southern fried catfish, bread pudding and of course, the famous meat pie in the original restaurant started by their dad so many years ago.
James is survived by his daughter Angela, his daughter Tina Smith and her husband Dwight. He has one surviving brother, Buddy Lasyone, who resides in Beaumont, Texas. He is preceded in death by his loving wife, JoAnn, his parents Mattie Lou Worsham and J.D. Lasyone.
James has been a longtime resident of The Courtyard of Natchitoches and the family wishes to thank the special caretakers who have aided in his care: Nanette Bienveue and all her staff for the past ten plus years.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the NSU Foundation for Lasyone’s . This will benefit a Culinary Arts student’s education at NSU.