When Kalada Miadonye found the opportunity to open his own restaurant, he decided to specialize in seafood, calling it Cajun Fuzion.
He wouldn’t have been able to do it 10 years ago, he says. “Throughout the years, I’ve noticed that this city shies away from seafood,” he notes. However, he saw the growing popularity of food-related events and festivals such as Top Chef Thunder Bay, the Folklore Festival, and Rib Fest, and felt optimistic about opening a Cajun restaurant. “People are willing and able to try different things,” he says.
Located on Syndicate Avenue, Cajun Fuzion offers Louisiana Creole food, which is a blend of French, Spanish, Portuguese and West African influences. Contrary to popular belief, the food is not spicy, the owner chef says.
“My cuisine, kids can eat it,” he says. Their most popular item, the Louisiana seafood boil, contains a variety of shellfish as well as corn, sausages and potatoes, and is often eaten with your hands. “You don’t have to worry about kids eating it and touching their eyes,” he adds. “And if you want heat, we can add heat.”
Cajun Fuzion makes everything in house, from the empanadas and biscuits to the peach cobbler cheesecake. In addition to Cajun staples such as jambalaya and seafood gumbo, they also offer wraps and po-boy sandwiches.
Miadonye has been cooking for almost 15 years. Born in England, he came to Thunder Bay in 1998 with his father, who taught at Lakehead University. The chef says he has been all over Canada, from P.E.I. to B.C. but eventually came back to Thunder Bay and worked in the restaurant industry. “Cooking was just my calling,” he says.
He spent three years at Daytona’s as head chef, and was working at the Prospector as sous-chef when the former Blue Door Bistro came up for sale. He decided to realize his dream of owning his own place, and opened Cajun Fuzion in November 2021.
Although Miadonye wants to open his restaurant for dine-in in the future, he is sticking to takeout for now. Working at other restaurants, he saw how difficult it is to hire staff, lay them off when pandemic restrictions necessitate, and rehire them. “As a new business, I don’t think I’ll be able to survive that, so I’ll stay [as takeout] for a year,” he says, adding that the restaurant will start their own delivery service in the near future.
Believing in the quality and taste of the food, he decided not to spend heavy sums on advertising; relying instead on social media and word of mouth. “I’m letting the food speak for itself,” he says.
His strategy is working, and weekends are very busy for Miadonye and the team. “It’s been a blessing,” the owner chef says gratefully. “It’s very nice seeing how everyone’s wanting to try the food.”