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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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Teams: Get crackin’ for the annual Cracklin’ Cook Off

Teams: Get crackin’ for the annual Cracklin’ Cook Off

Get your pots and your bellies ready for the Cut Off Youth Center’s 13th annual Cracklin’ Cook Off and Craft Show.

The cook-off will be open to the public on Saturday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cut Off Youth Center (COYC) on 205 West 79th Street.

There will be a live performance by the swamp pop band, Gilligan and Da Gang. Plate lunches consisting of your choice of cracklins and grillades, as well as white beans and pork jambalaya will be sold for $8 each and beer will also be available for purchase. Anyone who doesn’t want the entire plate lunch can buy a bowl of grillades for $6 or pork jambalaya for $5. For those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, the owners of the craft booths typically sell brownies, cookies, tarts and various dessert items.

The cook-off contestants arrive to begin preparations as early as 4 a.m., followed by the COYC staff who start bringing out the tables and chairs at around 6 a.m. while the craft artists come to set up their booths.

Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. the public is welcomed to shop around the craft booths and watch the cracklin cooks do their work before buying themselves a plate lunch.

D’Lynn Boudreaux, executive director of the COYC, who is in charge of setting up the cook-off, says that many of the visitors like to watch the cooks and get tips from them so that they can try it at home. She says the cooks are always happy to share their knowledge to the interested visitors.

“They all have their own way of doing it. Some of them say that you have to wait until the grease gets hot enough to light a match. Others say no that’s not how you do it; they all have a different technique,” said Boudreaux. “The people who are out there cooking the cracklins love doing that. It’s a tradition!”

The craft show consists of a large variety of works from local artists such as wooden toys, specialized candles and outdoor decorations like wishing wells and ashtrays.

For the cook-off there are usually anywhere between 10-15 contestants cooking their own version on cracklins.
There are three anonymous judges for the contest. The winner of the contest will receive a prize, which is usually a new cooking pot or something else that is associated with cooking, such as a new apron or paddle, along with bragging rights. To register as a contestant call the Cut Off Youth Center at 985-632-7616.

“They all know each other and they’re all trying to beat each other,” said Boudreaux.

Another, similar popular event the COYC will be hosting soon will be Boilin’ on the Bayou. On April 18, cooks will take part in another tasty competition – a crawfish boil-off. For $20 attendees can enjoy all you can eat crawfish.

The contestants in this particular event are various teams of four, each sponsored by a different company or group of friends. Each team is required to boil at least two sacks of crawfish, however they are often happy to boil more because of the high attendance rate.

“Every event we put on at the Youth Center helps to fund the COYC. Our goal is to create programs that benefit the kids in our community,” said Boudreaux.