On March 11th, the fifth annual Cook-Off for the Coast returned to Docville Farm for the first time in three years. The event, presented by Restore the Mississippi River Delta, Vanishing Paradise, and the Meraux Foundation, aims to raise awareness about coastal restoration and celebrate the culinary bounty of southeast Louisiana. Thirteen cook teams competed in five categories, serving up mouthwatering dishes featuring shrimp, duck, boar, raccoon, and more. Attendees were treated to live music by the Michot Melody Makers and local garage band Tonka Trio, and refreshments were provided by Pirogue’s Whiskey Bayou.
The free community event helped to raise awareness about coastal restoration issues and money for a local restoration project through sponsorships and merchandise sales. The 2023 Cook-off for the Coast raised over $16,000 for the Chandeleur Sound Living Shoreline Program with Nunez Community College and Chalmette High School and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program. Both programs encourage community participation in protecting and restoring the coast in St. Bernard Parish.
The Cook-off was attended by some of Louisiana’s renowned chefs, including Isaac Toups, who conducted a live cooking demonstration and provided free tastings, and Kevin Belton, who added his lively personality as the emcee. The event proudly hosted more than 20 local organizations to educate the community about getting involved in local restoration efforts and provided kid-friendly activities. The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) hosted three bus tours for interested attendees to visit their Restoration Headquarters in Violet, where they organize shell bagging events and have established a native plant nursery. The Coastal Art Competition made a comeback, with over 80 incredible submissions competing in three categories during the event.
The Cook-off was planned with sustainability and community in mind! All the serving items used by the cook teams, including sporks, cups, boats, and napkins, were 100% compostable. In addition, this year’s event partnered with Glass Half Full to serve as a glass recycling drop-off location and with CRCL to collect all used oyster shells. Regarding our merchandise, each shirt sold for the event was made from the equivalent of six up-cycled plastic water bottles.
Overall, the Cook-off for the Coast was a huge success in raising awareness and funds for coastal restoration, bringing together the community to celebrate the region’s unique culture and culinary heritage. We extend our gratitude to Sabrina Schmidt, the local painter who designed the t-shirts and posters for the event, and to Luis Colmenares, the local metal artist who crafts the Cook-off trophies each year. We also want to give a special shout-out to this year’s Cook-off partners: the St. Bernard Parish Coastal Division, St. Bernard Parish Tourism, Chefs Brigade and Nunez Community College.
This year’s event followed the same categories as years past, with fly, crawl, swim, and student categories.
- SWIM: Center for Human-Environmental Research for their crawfish/blue crab vindaloo
- CRAWL: Team Pomes for their rabbit stew
- FLY: Wheats Custom Calls for their wild duck andouille gumbo with a side of duck egg potato salad
- STUDENT: The Chalmette High Owls for their shrimp remoulade with fired okra and corn maque choux
- CROWD FAVORITE: Mudda Roux for their curry pumpkin corn bisque with crawfish and andouille
Thanks to our esteemed cook-off judges Liz Williams, founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum; Albertine Kimble, the Queen of Ducks; Chef Toya Boudy, author of Cooking for the Culture; Chef Lauren Harris of Harris House 504; and Charles Jackson, local constable and the creator of St. Bernard Magazine.
Coastal Art Competition Winners
Ages 18 and Above:
1st – Jamie Richardson – “Rebirth at the End of the World”
2nd – Saima Inam – “NOLA Swamp”
3rd Olivia Cuccia – “Tamis Woman”
1st – Stanley Lin – “The Gift of Nature”
2nd – Cole Adams – “King Crab
3rd – Nancy Shi – “Eat What You Want”
Ages 12 and Under
1st – Nicholas Fu – “I’m Chef”
2nd – Arabella Alphonso – “What Should I Eat?”
3rd – An Dang – “Mardi Gras Mask”
Thanks to our esteemed art competition judges Sabrina Schmidt, local painter; Terrance Osborne, painter and gallery owner; Luis Colmenares, metal artist; Jennifer Leigh Ward, illustrator and consultant; and Zack Smith, photographer.
We’re thankful for our sponsors, cook teams, judges and everyone who came out and supported a great cause. See you next year!
Support for this year’s event came from the St. Bernard Parish Coastal Division, St. Bernard Parish Tourism, Chefs Brigade and Nunez Community College, and our sponsors that keep this event free: Clements Insurance, Clements Physical Therapy, St Bernard Wetlands Foundation, ABC Title, Joey Nieto Edward Jones, St Bernard Tourist Commission, Knights of Nemesis, Team Pomes, Jean Lansou Construction & HVAC, Republic Services, Bienville Capital, Boasso Construction, Common Ground Relief, Delacroix Corporation, ELOS engineering, The Great Delta Tours, Beau’s Feed & Pets, Jaylynn Bergeron Turner Assessor, WWNO, St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann and NOLA Woodworks.
Cook-Off for the Coast returns to Docville Farm on February 24, 2024. We can’t wait to see you!