101 teams offer taste test of special jambalaya, gumbo recipes

October 04, 2012 at 8:44 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Around 3,000 people are expected to visit the West Bank Bridge Park on Thursday in order to sample jambalaya and gumbo cooked by more than 100 competitors.
Thelezia Folse
Around 3,000 people are expected to visit the West Bank Bridge Park on Thursday in order to sample jambalaya and gumbo cooked by more than 100 competitors.
The annual culinary battle, sponsored by the United Way of St. Charles, gets underway at 3 p.m. on Oct. 4. When patrons are finally allowed inside the gates, members of participating teams will do everything they can to entice visitors to their booths to try their special recipes. Because while a panel of judges will pick some of the winners, everyone is gunning for the Peopleís Choice award.

The Battle for the Paddle has continued to grow as more participating teams drive up visitors to one of the largest yearly events in the parish.

Last year, a then-record 101 teams signed up to cook their own special gumbo and jambalaya recipes on-site and serve the finished product to those in attendance. The recent increase in teams has correlated to a bigger audience. In four years, the number of visitors is expected to double from 1,600 in 2008 to more than 3,000 this year.

Older patrons pay only $5 to eat as much as they like, while those 10 and under get into the event for free.

"Itís the United Wayís kickoff for fundraising," Tamara Plattsmier, the administrative assistant at United Way, said. "I would ask people to come out and support the United Way. We have a lot of big companies throughout the parish involved."

The event is meant to raise awareness about the services the United Way offers to the community.

"Itís a fun way to support the community and raise awareness about our campaign," Plattsmier said. "It supports agencies throughout the parish that deal with health, income and education. We also create programs in areas dealing with health education."

Along with cooked food, which will be judged by both the public and a panel comprised of local leaders, soft drinks and beer will be served during the event.

Teams will begin arriving to set up their tents at 8 a.m. At 11 a.m., the contestants begin cooking, and at 3 p.m., residents get their first chance to enter the event.

This year, buses will pick up and drop off residents at various locations on Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway for free. Stops include the Satellite Center (bus pickup at canopy), R.K. Smith Middle School (bus pickup at canopy) and the St. Charles Parish Public Schools maintenance facility (bus pickup in front of building). Complimentary buses will begin picking up riders at 3:30 p.m. and dropping them off at the event. Riders will be returned to their vehicles upon leaving the event, which closes at 7:30 p.m.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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