69 teams battle it out for coveted paddle

The United Way of St. Charles is kicking off its 2008-09 campaign by giving residents the chance to get their fill of the best gumbo and jambalaya in the parish for only $5.

The seventh annual Battle for the Paddle cook-off gets underway at the West Bank Bridge Park on Oct. 2 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. So far, 69 teams (32 gumbo and 37 jambalaya) have signed up to cook their own special gumbo and jambalaya recipes on-site and serve the finished product to those in attendance. Admission for the general public is only $5, while each team paid $50 to participate.

Children 12 and under are admitted free.

While the public is chowing down, they will be entertained by musicians Reese Chiasson and Patrick O’Malley. They can also try their luck in a Pick 5 raffle, which only cost $1 but gives five chances to win, or a 50/50 drawing.

Sweets, snow balls, soft drinks and beer will also be served during the event.

Last year, a record-setting 74 teams participated in the Battle for the Paddle, with Entergy/Waterford 3 winning an award for Best Jambalaya and Gumbo Chicks, from Jacob’s Andouille, taking home the top prize for Best Gumbo.

The event raised $14,000.

The first place team for both jambalaya and gumbo will each take home a prize paddle for one year. The first, second and third teams will also receive a plaque for their respective division. All teams receive four participation gifts.

While judges from John Folse Culinary Institute pick the overall winners, the public gets to vote for the People’s Choice award. Last year’s People’s Choice award winners were St. Charles Parish Hospital and the St. Charles Parish Schools’ Cooking with Fire.

The teams will begin arriving to set up their tents at 8 a.m. At 11 a.m., the contestants begin cooking, and at 4 p.m. the eight judges from the John Folse Culinary Institute get their first chance to taste the food and the public gets their first chance to enter the event, where they can walk from team to team sampling the courses until 7:30 p.m.

Last year, over 1,600 people attended the event.


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