Judging the Pontchatoula Gumbo Cookoff


Very quickly, before I hit the road, let me invite you to come visit me in Pontchatoula tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 27th).  I will be one of a panel of judges for the Annual Pontchatoula High School Football Booster Club Gumbo Cookoff.  Benefits go toward a scholarship fund in honor of a football player who was injured during a game, many years ago.  It’s a worthy cause, and for $5 at the gate, you can eat as much gumbo as you like.  I think the gate opens at 11 a.m. for the public.  

Granted, after tasting about three dozen different gumbos, I personally don’t want to see, much lessgumbo-cauldron taste, gumbo for quite a while.  The two categories are “chicken and sausage” and “seafood”.  To be quite candid, over the past five years that I’ve been judging this, I have tasted everything from glorified dishwater to delicous gumbo, simmered to perfection with just the right flavors and textures.

After we’ve chosen the top gumbo in the two categories, we then taste them AGAIN and choose the overall winner.  Now, THAT is the coveted award—a huge trophy and bragging rights for an entire year.  There’s lots of good-hearted competition between entrants, lots of heckling, and lots of top-secret components and ingredients.  Some folks even come from other states at a chance to win the coveted award for best gumbo of the year.  

So, the competitors are many, and the competition is stiff.  My biggest problem is this:  To eat breakfast before this judging or not?  I mean, I love my morning coffee, but I just don’t think I could stomach all these gumbos on an empty stomach.  Does that make sense?

In the past, I’ve judged alongside outdoor broadcaster Don Dubuc and his sidekick and good friend, HokieHokie Gajan, who played running back for the New Orleans saints 1982-1985. After the judging, which ends around 12:30, I will be helping sell “Hokie Tough” t-shirts to benefit cancer research.  You see, Hokie was diagnosed with cancer last fall. I’m not sure if he will be there tomorrow hanging a lip over some of the best (and worst) gumbos ever made, but he will definitely be there in spirit.  And if you care to hang around, there will also be local arts and crafts for sale until the awards are announced at 2 p.m.  Oh, and there’s a live band, plus Pontchatoula is loaded with quaint antique shops to visit all day, too.  How can you go wrong?

So, if you’re in south Louisiana and have nothing to do Saturday, the weather is supposed to be beautiful, and the cookoff benefits a great cause.  Why not come on out and get yourself $5 worth of gumbo and a Hokie Tough t-shirt to go?

I look forward to seeing you there!

As always, I welcome comments and questions!


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  1. I’ve was asked to judge several 4-H cooking contest when 2 of my children were still in school and again about 3 years ago. It’s a tough job! I think Hubby and I (3 years ago) ate bits of dishrag! Lol! Our taste buds recovered, but it took a day. At least it was for a worthy cause!
    BTW, 8 minutes after your email, the notification about the new post came in.

    1. That’s because the notification was manually generated!!! It’s fun judging, though, isn’t it? We had quite a few good laughs Saturday during this judging. Hokie was there judging with us, and he’s fighting this cancer with everything he’s got. Was so good to see him and laugh with him again. And I’m assuming you were safe from last Tuesday’s tornado rampage?

      1. The tornado in our area was about a mile away from us. Today I noticed a loose shingle on the barn Hubby’ will have to fix. I’ll help haul the extension ladder but that’s it.!

  2. Oh goody, the page is displaying as a real page today! It was just stacked page upon page last night and I couldn’t get in for anything.

    I wish I had been near that cookoff! They would have probably tossed me out for eating so much! 🙂 I love gumbo, hubby will only eat your Redneck Gumbo since there is no roux. The man don’t know good food.

    About 8 years ago, at the company picnic, he and a friend were asked to judge the desserts. He said he would NEVER do that again. I laughed so hard at his expressions as he ate. He doesn’t like sweet foods that much.

    1. I’m glad he likes the Redneck, because it is so easy to make and very, very tasty!!! I don’t think I would like judging desserts, either. Nothing like all that sugar to send one into a sugar coma!

  3. Oh, my. Over here, the chili and barbeque cookoffs abound, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an announcement for a gumbo cookoff. I guess I’ll have to head east for that. But there are crawfish galore popping up everywhere. I think it must be early in the season, because they’re pricey, ($5.99/lb) but it’s yet another sign of spring.

    Speaking of: it is spring, for sure. The gators are out, and the turtles. The white pelicans and coots are flocking to head north, and just today I saw the my first swallows. Bring it on, sez me!

  4. $5.99 a lb?? Wow. I saw the ad in the grocery paper for $104. for a 35 lb bag. I am so ready for our boil.

    1. That was a restaurant price. I went and looked, and our best local seller has them for $2.99/lb now. That’s a little more reasonable for an evening out.

      1. . . . . . says the brave woman who ate her first during Mardi Gras last year!! Ready for some more, are you? 🙂