Steven Oubre gives his all in the kitchen, in the classroom, on the jiu jitsu mat, and with his family. He has come a long way from selling frogs and crawfish before school for gas money. Now, he leads one of the best Pro Start programs in the state, teaching teenagers to cook and work in the restaurant industry, and has even been awarded the State’s Educator of Excellence award and the James H. Maynard Excellence in Education Award, a national recognition. He and his wife also own and run their own jiu jitsu gym, a place where he can teach different skills to a wide variety of students. Above all though, he prides himself on being a loving husband and dedicated father, working hardest on those two jobs.
How did you meet your wife?
S: Mardi Gras 2001 in Thibodeaux. We both went to Nicholls. She was in a sorority, and I was in a fraternity.
Tell me about your children.
S: They have their moments in getting along. Mackenzie doesn’t really want to be around us, and McKinley wants to be with her 24/7. Mackenzie is competitive and loves soccer. She plays competitively. Kinley is super tenderhearted. She likes kitty cats and coloring, cutting, gluing, creating, and piano. She’s going to be the artsy type.
What are three words to describe yourself?
S: Happy, tenderhearted, sensitive to others.
Most recent proud parenting moment?
S: Kinley’s piano recital. She was so happy and played only like five notes. Mackenzie just got a stripe in jiu jitsu and started helping with the class again. She’s spending more time with us, and that makes me really happy.
Last daddy fail?
S: Hula hoop race during kids’ jiu jitsu. I can’t hula hoop, couldn’t get it to go around like one time.
How do you keep it all balanced?
S: That’s hard. I put myself last. I try to do for everybody else. Kids, Piper, and gym, and if I have a couple hours to watch Batman cartoons with Kinley, that’s the best.
Favorite spot around town for date night?
S: We’re really picky, but we like Roberto’s. We usually go out with couples. We like to get adult company outside of the kids.
If you could invite anyone over for dinner, who would you invite?
S: Brad Pitt. He’s led an interesting life. I love him in Fight Club, and he is one of my favorite actors. He loves New Orleans. He’s seen a lot, and he’s a humanitarian.
What’s something parents shouldn’t feel guilty about?
S: Telling their children no. It’s hard, though, and I feel guilty all the time. I think a big problem with what we have now is too many parents are telling their kids yes and giving them everything.
What good habit do you have that you would like to pass on to the kids?
S: Selflessness. I try to always do for others.
Any bad habits you would not want to pass on?
S: I don’t want them to be passive aggressive. I take a lot of stuff because I’m so giving, but when I’ve had enough, everything that’s bottled up comes out and it’s not good. I want them to be honest with their feelings.
Hardest thing about being a dad?
S: Trying to find matching outfits. Brushing their hair.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
S: My favorite foods are hamburgers and hot dogs. Because I’m a chef, everybody thinks that it would be something fancy, but I love a really good hamburger. That’s America in your hands.
How did you react when you found out you were going to be a dad?
S: It was Labor Day Weekend, and I remember it so clearly. I was scared but excited because I knew Piper was the one. It changed my life for the better, and it was very calming. I had a reason for everything to be okay.
What do you like to do as a family?
S: Anything to make memories. We like going to the beach, Colorado, cruises, jiu jitsu.
What’s your parenting style?
S: I’m good cop, she’s bad cop.
What’s one piece of advice you often give your children?
S: Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. You’ll do all three if you do one. Your word is everything.
What’s one thing your kids have taught you?
S: Although it sounds cheesy, how to truly love something more than yourself. When I held Mackenzie for the first time, it hit me that she was part of Piper and part of me. She was the continuation of us.
What’s your favorite time of day?
S: I get to leave school early to go grocery shopping, and my wife leaves early from school as well. When we both get off early from school, once a week we meet up at our house and spend an hour together before we get the kids.
If you had 24 hours to yourself, what would you do?
S: Fishing and hunting and frogging all in the same day. I would binge all the things I loved doing when I was little.
What advice would you give to other parents?
S: Enjoy the little things, everything. Make sure you put time for your spouse outside of your kids, and kids away from your spouse.
How has life changed since starting the gym?
S: Because it’s for myself, it’s brought more meaning to my life that I didn’t even know wasn’t there. Some of my students have a lot of challenges in life, but when they’re on the mat, they get to be totally different. I see changes in them. Even the adults that have weight issues. We’re changing people’s lives, and they’re benefiting. Our women’s self defense classes have meant so much. We’re helping people, and it’s very rewarding.
What do you love about cooking and jiu jitsu?
S: I will never quit learning. There are so many different cuisines and styles of jiu jitsu. They’re both extremely frustrating but so rewarding. Jiu jitsu is a thinking man’s game, and cooking’s the same way. It takes a certain person to stick with them.
How does owning a business provide an example for your children?
S: Work hard and put passion in anything you do. Show commitment.
How did you get involved in jiu jitsu?
S: Daddy/daughter night. I wanted to do something fun with Mackenzie when she was seven years old. We went to our first class together to have Daddy/Daughter time, and then Piper crashed in two weeks later and got better than me.
How does sharing the same passion for jiu jitsu impact your marriage?
S: It’s made us closer because we’re very honest with each other. She motivates me and keeps me going. It’s something we can do together besides just our relationship and kids. I encourage her and she encourages me. ■
Quick Q & A
Before kids, I never thought I would… live to see 30.
In my fridge, you will always find… hot sauce.
Favorite movie growing up… Back to the Future, all three.
My guilty pleasure is… beer and hot chocolate.
Favorite children’s book is… Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Growing up, I knew I wanted to… be a game warden.
I can’t stop listening to… 311, Incubus.
I like my coffee… with a splash of almond creamer.