The third annual Cook-off for the Coast was another one for the books. Crowds showed up in record breaking numbers the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm on February 8th.
Serenaded by the Grammy Award winning members of Lost Bayou Ramblers in their newest project Soul Creole. Fusing Cajun and Creole music, it was the prefect music to eat by.
This year 13 cook teams highlighted the bounty of coastal Louisiana through food, serving everything from crawfish to venison, duck to alligator. Offering up free samples of their dish, each team was not only aiming to win over the judges but also the hearts (and taste buds) of the crowds.
* Swims Winner: Valero, seafood gumbo
* Flys Winner: Parish Boyz, bacon-wrapped duck with brussels sprouts
* Crawls Winner: Team Islenos, hog egg rolls and fried rice
* Student Cook-Off Team Winner: Chalmette High School Owls, crawfish balls and seafood gumbo
* Crowd Favorite: Mudda Roux, alligator sauce piquante
The free event helped to raise awareness about coastal restoration issues and money for a local restoration project through sponsorships and merchandise sales. The 2020 Cook-Off for the Coast raised over $15,000 for the Chandeleur Sound Living Shoreline Program – a partnership with Nunez Community College, Chalmette High School, the Meraux Foundation, St. Bernard Parish Coastal Division and Southern Services and Equipment. The program teaches kids from the Chalmette High School Career Technical Education Workforce Development Program welding skills by having them design and construct cages that will be used to build oyster breakwaters. Students will deploy the first 20 units sometime later in 2020 along the northern edge of comfort island in Chandeleur Sound where they will protect the inner marsh from erosion and improve water. Filled with Coquina shell stone, which mimics the and eventually become naturally regenerating oyster reefs.
This year’s cook-off also took some steps to becoming a more sustainable and environmentally friendly event, which is why we are all here right?!! (Other than to eat of course!) In addition to the aluminum can and plastic bottle recycling, composting was added this year to reduce the amount of land-fill bound waste generated by the event. All service items handed out by the cook teams – sporks, cups, boats, napkins – were all 100% compostable. During the event over 700 gallons of food waste was collected by Schmelly’s Dirt Farm and will someday be healthy soil and compost.
Additionally, if you purchased some cook-off swag you can rest ease knowing that the shirts were made from up-cycled plastic water bottles. Each shirt contains the equivalent of 6 plastic water bottles! And the posters were printed on chlorine-free, recycled paper.