Bayou Gourmet Cook-Off Contestant Wins after 11 Years

Mar 14th, 2011 | By | Category: Lifestyle

After finishing as a finalist for the last ten years, and almost giving up this year, Philip Toups of Houma, Louisiana finally won this year’s Bayou Gourmet Cook-Off. The winning dish was an andouille and sweet-potato cornbread stuffing adapted from an old recipe that Toups had been perfecting for five months.

The victory dish took a lot of experimentation. “I didn’t want it to be too sweet,” Toups explained. “I wanted it to be spicy, with a sweetness at the end.” And in the end, the victory was indeed sweet.

Toups inherited a passion for cooking from his grandparents, and has been cooking for the past 20 years. After a decade of falling just short of victory, he almost didn’t enter this year. But something told him to give it one more try, and his persistence paid off. “Am I dreaming?” he asked aloud after winning. “I’m in shock.”

Toups attributes his success to his grandparents’ influence and his background in traditional recipes, which he encourages chefs not to overlook. “I was lucky to have grandparents who cooked all the time,” Toups said. “People shouldn’t underestimate the value of good home cooking and southern one-pot meals. It’s delicious, and that’s what you’re seeing in restaurants now.”

This year’s cook-off was the 36th Annual Bayou Gourmet Cook-Off. It was held Saturday at the Courtyard Marriott in Houma. Contestants were selected from dozens who submitted more than 100 entries submitted by Terrebonne and Lafourche cooks. They entered the five top recipes in eight categories.

Other winners were:

  • Soup/Salad/Vegetable: Danielle Plaisance, oyster soup.
  • Meat/Poultry/Game: Kay Lefort, hearty chicken pie in French pastry crust
  • Seafood: Chuck Hansen, Cajun-stuffed seafood cabbage mum
  • Desserts: Paul Labat, bestest-ever oatmeal cookies.
  • Quick and easy: Diamond Thibodaux, Tam’s ranchero enchilada casserole.
  • Healthy eating: Amee Messina, updated stuffed mushrooms.

The top three recipes in each category received hundreds of dollars in prizes from local businesses. Toups won a $500 prize from Houma local papers The Courier and Daily Comet.

All finalists’ recipes will be printed in the “36th Annual Bayou Gourmet Cookbook.” The Cookbook will be included in The Courier on Easter Sunday, April 24, and in the Daily Comet on April 25.

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