By Breanna Smith
Zachary native Gastinel “Gas” White has been cooking for as long as he can remember. Growing up, he spent early mornings in The Chaneyville School cafeteria with his mom and long summer days with his grandfather on his farm. He tells stories as a man who has lived many lives, holding closely to the tenets on which he was raised — hard work, humility and a passion for feeding people.
After graduating with the Zachary High School Class of 1989 as a Track & Field State Champion, he joined the Marine Corps. “If you’ve been a champion in your early life, it’s only a reflection of what you’re going to do in your later life,” Gas said. “You’re always going to have that championship attitude. I attribute that to my success as well. I was a good student and a country boy who wanted to go to the city and do bigger things.”
He often daydreamed about the places he would go in school. After graduation, he joined the Marines before settling in Phoenix, AZ. Becoming a Resident After 13 years in Phoenix, it was time for a new challenge. Gas headed to the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada. “When I was in the Marine Corps, I said, ‘I’ll never ever move to Las Vegas, ever! Well, I ended up moving here in 2005, and it’s been the best move of my life.”
Gas earned a spot as the Resident DJ at Planet Hollywood, playing for people from around the world and seeing his face on the Jumbotron every week for eight years. He opened for acts such as Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Train and J.Lo. In a small town filled with talented musicians and DJs, earning a residency of that caliber was only accomplished through hard work, determination and a sound that stood out from the rest. Gas is an open-format DJ with a signature Louisiana touch.
“Music is like gumbo,” he said. “I usually play in an open format, which means I’m playing everything you can imagine from country to rock to hip-hop, R&B, pop a little bit of everything. That’s gumbo to me.”
Cookin Wit Gas
After 15 years performing on the Las Vegas strip, Gas was ready to begin the chapter he had dreamed about since he was a child. He opened Gastinel’s Cajun Kitchen, a full-time corporate and event catering company. But he didn’t stop there. Soon, he added on another facet of the business — Cooking Wit Gas, a mobile Louisiana experience. With his DJ setup on the backend of the trailer, he immerses visitors in the unique culture of “The Boot,” from the music to jambalaya and coffee. “I can’t keep jambalaya on the truck for nothing!” Gas said with a laugh. “I always run out of it, and I always cook more.” You can find jambalaya, gumbo and all of the South Louisiana essentials on the Cooking with Gas menu, along with more experimental dishes like Gas’ signature Jerk Chicken Poboy. “And I only serve Community Coffee on my truck,” he said, holding up a bag. The response has been tremendous, with some customers declaring his jambalaya “the best in the world.” Cajun cuisine is a growing business in Las Vegas, with plenty of chefs putting their on spin on traditional Cajun dishes. “A lot of people like our Cajun and Creole food out here… All I concentrate on is quality.”
Now, he’s working with other food truck owners to create a network featuring Cajun cuisine. It’s not a competition thing for me – we can give each other the same recipe, but we’re still going to arrive at it differently. I welcome the friendly competition and the camaraderie in building a product,” he said.
Cookin Wit Gas is as much an homage to his home state as it is his family. It’s more than a food truck with a DJ setup on the back – Cookin Wit Gas is the continuation of his mother and brother’s legacies.
Where It All Started
Rising before the sun, Gas watched his mother, Brenda White, prepare meals for students in daycare through high school at The Chaneyville School cafeteria before heading to his classes. For more than 30 years, she prepared meals for students as the Head Food Technician, watching boys and girls become men and women. “My goal in this lifetime now is to feed as many people as my mom fed, or more.”
While on the farm, his grandfather instilled a strong work ethic in him, showing
him the character and integrity only found in rising day after day with a mission to accomplish. “He was the first man I knew. He taught me how to work hard, and I still carry those lessons with me today,” said Gas.
His late brother, Alvin G. White, owned and operated Big Al’s Cajun Cuisine, a food truck that served the Greater Baton Rouge area. Al ran the food truck part-time, working full-time for XPO Logistics. He was well known in the area and won several competitions for his cooking. “I’m very proud of him,” said Gas. “I’m carrying on their legacies. It started with them.”
Gas frequently visits Zachary because “everyone is here.” On a recent trip back home in January, he spent time doing what he loves most — cooking for his family. He catered his sister’s wedding reception, niece’s birthday party and spent his birthday cooking for everyone who gathered. “I still represent,” he said, pointing to his Zachary sweatshirt. “I’m 100% Louisiana, and I’m proud of where I come from in Zachary. That’s where it all started: Zachary, Louisiana.”