Ça c’est Bon!

2024 Cook-Off for the Coast

From the marsh to the marinade. Out of the swamp and onto the skillet. However you want to plate it, Cook-Off for the Coast is a culinary event like no other that takes aim at simmering down that hard-to-satisfy wild game envie. This year’s event was another success, with metal spoons stirring Magnalite pots, the smells of Cajun cooking filling the air and the Holy Trinity – celery, onions and bell peppers – reigning supreme.

Hosted by Vanishing Paradise, Meraux Foundation, and Restore the Mississippi River Delta, Cook-Off for the Coast celebrates the bounty of southeast Louisiana by bringing together the best flavors and techniques that our state has to offer, while supporting coastal restoration efforts in St. Bernard Parish. By raising awareness and funds, Cook-Off for the Coast aims to protect and restore the disappearing marshes and wetlands that provide vital habitat for migratory waterfowl, gamefish and other species of Sportsman’s Paradise. Last week, some 2,000 guests indulged themselves at the 6th annual Cook-Off for the Coast and helped raise nearly $20,000 for the Chandeleur Sound Living Shoreline Program, a partnership with Chalmette High School and Nunez Community College, and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program.

Catch, Clean, and Cook-Up a Storm

Cook-Off for the Coast is a wild game cook-off that encourages participants to “catch” the main ingredients for dishes in the categories of swims, flies and crawls. This “swamp to table” approach is deeply rooted in Louisiana’s cultural heritage, which is appropriate for “Sportsman’s Paradise.” Louisiana is not only home to an abundance of critters we like to eat – the state is also world-renowned for its unique cuisine – and the restaurant chefs and home cooks who can turn those critters into 5-star dishes. This same culinary creativity was at this year’s Cook-Off, where cook teams competed by transforming fresh ingredients into mouthwatering dishes right on the spot at Docville Farm. Here’s a breakdown of 2024’s Cook-Off for the Coast:

  • 15 cook teams participated in five categories:
    o Swims
    o Flies
    o Crawls
    o Student
    o Crowd Favorite
  • Judges:
    o Hick Cheramie (Actor)
    o Todd Masson (Sportsman)
    o Mina Seck (Sprout NOLA)
    o Halle Parker (WWNO)
    o Chef Greg Rosary (Nicholls/Arnaud’s)
  • Winners:
    o Swims: Team White Fleet with Semi-Blackened Jalapeño infused Tuna Bites
    o Flies: Make Our Coast Great Again with Goose Tacos
    o Crawls: Old Fashioned Gun and Social Club with Venison Chili
    o Student: Chalmette High School Owls with Fried Soft-Shell Crab Ravigote
    o Crowd Favorite: Mudda Roux with White Beans and Shrimps

Swims: Team White Fleet/ Semi-Blackened Jalapeno infused Tuna bites
Team White Fleet decided last minute to participate in Cook-Off for the Coast, and I’m glad they did! With little time to organize an entire squad, this 2-person team, comprised of a husband and his wife, entered this year’s competition with a BANG! Although their team was small, their food came through with big flavors that packed a serious punch! After claiming victory in the Swims category on their first try, needless to say, Team White Fleet will be a serious contender in the future.

Crawls: Old Fashion Gun and Social Club/ Venison Chili
Team Old Fashion Gun and Social Club served up a venison chili that swept away the competition in the Crawls category. Their ability to cook low and slow made their deer meat extra tender and when combined with a mixture of traditional spices created a full-bodied dish that just seemed fitting for a windy February day.

Flies: Make Our Coast Great Again/ Goose Tacos
This group of waterfowl hunters didn’t get their ‘goose cooked’ in this competition. Their dish of goose tacos went a long way with the crowd as well as the judges leading them to grasp this year’s trophy in the Flies category. Team Make Our Coast Great Again decided to cook goose tacos after having a few successful hunts this past waterfowl season.

Student: Chalmette High School Culinary Team/ Fried Soft Shell Crab Ravigote
The young talents of Chalmette High School’s Culinary Team showcased their skills with a dish that combined the delicate flavors of a softshell crab with the heat and boldness of a jalapeno ravigote. This dish exemplifies the culinary finesse coming from this next generation of Louisiana chefs.

Crowd Favorite: Team Mudda Roux/ Shrimp and White Beans
Team Mudda Roux took home Crowd Favorite for the second year in a row with their take on a Cajun classic. This creamy mixture of shrimp with white beans tantalized the taste buds, leaving a lasting impression.

Believe it or not, along with our co-hosts at Meraux Foundation and Restore the Mississippi River Delta, we are already starting to plan for the 2025 Cook-Off! One of the key ingredients to success is a mix of fantastic, creative cook teams, and we always have open spots for new competitors. If you’re interested in forming a cook team to compete in our next Cook-Off, please contact me at waguespackm@nwf.org.