Joseph “Ed” Isolani is the man behind Cosmic Cajun Universal Seasoning, a spice that adds flavor to your cooking.
“I made it to season food the way I liked it,” he said.
Isolan, 63, is an actively involved member of the New Port Richey community and former head of AMIKids (formerly the Marine Institute), an alternative school in the city.
He started making Cosmic Cajun in his home just outside the city limits and now sells it at local markets and online.
Isolani is not Cajun, but he grew up with plenty of Cajun influence. Isolani was raised in rural Paradis, La., which is in St. Charles Parish. That's Cajun Country, he said.
Isolani’s mother was the child of a woman who married an Italian-American. Isolani’s father was an Italian-American. He was a doctor.
Isolani’s mother learned Cajun cooking from local women. His father would often be paid for his services with wild game or produce.
So, when it came time for meals, the Isolani family was treated to a varied menu that included wild game, ravioli, lasagna and fish.
Isolani's family employed a black housekeeper who would take him to her uncle's. Through her, he developed a taste for red beans, white beans, greens, mustard, cracklins and pecan candies.
Isolani developed a love of cooking that lasted into adulthood. When his wife Mary Jewell got pregnant, he took over cooking duties for the family.
Isolani eventually developed hypertension issues. He noticed that Cajun seasonings he used contain a lot of salt. So he started cooking his own seasoning in an attempt to create something with less salt.
It still has kick, though, and it leaves its hint of flavor in your dishes.
“It’s not made to blow you away,” Isolani said. “It’s made to use as a base.”
He started producing Cosmic Cajun officially in 2009. It contains spices common to Cajun cooking, others not so common and omits some ingredients used in Cajun dishes, like paprika.
He mixed his recipe in a barrel set on its side on a treadmill in his home outside New Port Richey.
He burnt out treadmills, and fumes would fill the house.
He started offering it up as seasoning at the wild game dinner hosted by the New Port Richey Rotary Club. People ate it up.
“That’s when I realized people really liked it,” he said.
Isolani worked as Juvenile Probation and Parole Director for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Correction for years prior to coming to New Port Richey. He worked as a counselor for people with disabilities before that.
He is now retired. In addition to selling and promoting Cosmic Cajun on Pasco and Pinellas counties, he plays music with his wife and makes necklaces out of fossilized shells.
Cosmic Cajun is now produced in Louisiana.
Find out more about it on the company's website.