Gumbo is typically full of andouille sausage, chicken and fresh crab legs.

Calvin "Chef C" Alexander, owner of Chef C’s Smhokin Pot, spends a lot of time making his recipe.

"I would say about eight hours," he said.

What You Need To Know

  • Calvin "Chef C" Alexander owns Chef C's Smhokin Pot in Carson

  • Alexander resigned as a respiratory therapist in 2018 to focus on his Cajun concept full time

  • He opened Smhokin Pot just three months ago

  • The top sellers are Alexander's cheesy lobster grilled cheese and lobster mac and cheese, all hand-made to order

Not only does Alexander need to begin preparing this "smhokin pot" in advance for the following day, but he starts by combining a mixture of at least a dozen spices he spent years perfecting.

“A lot of testing, and just seeing what works and what gives the best flavor,” he said.

This precision is all self-taught. Alexander's parents are both from Louisiana and actually met in Southern California, where he was later born and raised. While his dad brought Cajun cooking to the state by making a lot of gumbo and jambalaya at home, Alexander took the basics and created his own spin.

"It’s something I love, and we would take trips to New Orleans," he said. "That’s my inspiration right there."

Before mastering the gumbo, Alexander was a respiratory therapist for 13 years at Long Beach Memorial. His passion for cooking slowly started creeping in, and he began bringing dishes to his coworkers at the hospital. His food was a hit, so he took it even further by selling at events and festivals before opening a food truck in 2017.

“I didn’t see a whole lot of Cajun food out there, so I wanted to give people that flavor,” he said.

The bold, spicy flavor began to get the recognition it deserved, which let Alexander resign from the hospital in 2018 to focus on his Cajun concept full-time. He finally opened this restaurant in Carson only three months ago, which people continue to visit for his fresh seafood dishes.

The top sellers are Alexander's cheesy lobster grilled cheese and lobster mac and cheese, all hand-made to order.

"There’s ten different cheeses in it," he said. "I make a cheese mix for it that we use, and we use our lobster sauce."

Alexander combines new and unique dishes with the traditional Cajun staples to please his community with bold flavors while honoring his family who continued to support him along the way.

"I don’t know where I would be without my family helping me in the beginning," he said. "A lot of love and free help, that helped me very much."

Get the taste of Louisiana with a lot of love and care right in Southern California at Chef C’s Smhokin pot located at 17944 S Avalon Blvd in Carson.