When fall arrives in Louisiana, the gumbo pots come out. We asked the champs of New Iberia’s annual cook-off for their recipes.
Louisiana natives are quick to tell you that no two gumbos are alike. Tweak a roux here and a spice there and you end up with a completely different pot of stew — which is why every October gumbo fanatics meet in New Iberia to see who’s making it the best. The three-day World Championship Gumbo Cook-Off (October 12 to 14; worldchampionshipgumbocookoff.blogspot.com) starts with live music on Friday night and a Cajun and Creole food festival on Saturday before the main event on Sunday. About 90 teams gather before 5 a.m. to compete in one of three categories: chicken and sausage, seafood and mélange (the wild-card division). For the next few hours, all of downtown smells like gumbo as 40,000 people wait to get their first taste. It’s worth a trip for a sample, but in case you can’t get there, we asked last year’s amateur winners for their prized recipes.