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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Weekend gumbo event sets Guinness record

Weekend gumbo event sets Guinness record

Alabama may have won the football game battle, but Louisiana won the gumbo cooking war.

Mandeville attorneys Arlen Braud and Michelle Gallagher spearheaded a massive seafood gumbo that was the main event of Saturday’s World Record Gumbo event at the Larose Civic Center pavilion.

The dish was huge and needed several dozen volunteers and friends of the community to stir, heat and prepare on Saturday morning. By the time it was done, the gumbo weighed a mammoth 5,800 pounds – good enough to set the Guinness World Record for the largest pot ever made in one sitting.

Guinness representative Michael Empric was on-hand to verify the honor and give it his stamp of approval. He even ate a little of it, as well. He said it hit the spot.

“It’s a new world record. It met all of the criteria,” Empric said. “One of the criteria was that it be edible, and I can attest to the fact that it certainly is that. It was delicious.”

The gumbo was loaded full of Louisiana-fresh seafood. In fact, state pride was a huge driving force in why it was cooked in the first place.

Braud and Gallagher said they’d heard from acquaintances that the largest gumbo ever made was in Alabama – a 3,700-pounder in 2010 and then a 4,000-pound dish in 2013. Both were cooked by chef John Folse.

“It didn’t seem right for the record for this Louisiana dish to have been made in Alabama,” Braud said.

So they took action.

The attorneys got together with friends and organizers with the Larose Civic Center and together, they helped to plan Saturday’s event. The World Record Gumbo was well supported and had hundreds of people in attendance throughout the day-long event.

The affair was designed to be sort-of a day-long party leading up to the nightcap – the LSU and Alabama football game, which was displayed at the Civic Center on a huge, 30-foot screen above the Civic Center’s stage.

“It’s been a great day. It really has,” Empric said. “The turnout is excellent and the people here really seem to be having a good time.”

The food was free to the public who attended. It went fast – especially at around 1 p.m., at least.

That’s because Major League Eating was in attendance and held its World Record Gumbo Eating Competition, which sought to crown a champion for the best gumbo eater in the world.

MLE brought several of the best competitive eaters in the world to Larose, including eight-time world hot dog eating champion, world famous Joey Chestnut. Also competing were “Crazy Legs” Conti and Miki Sudo – the No. 1 female eater in the world.

The competition lasted for eight minutes and the competitive eaters were not allowed to trough the gumbo during the time period. They were instead mandated to use spoons to eat and were not allowed to hold bowls at anything greater than a 45-degree angle.

The competition was fun, fast-paced and challenging to the eaters. The crowd was wild and fans screamed on the competitors.

Chestnut showed why he’s the best when it was all said and done, pumping down an absurd 15 bowls in the eight minutes to score the title. Each bowl contained 16 ounces of gumbo.

The famous eater won $2,000 for the win and said he was proud of his feat.

“I am happy to be here and happy to win,” he said. “The gumbo was good – at least the first six bowls of it. After that, it becomes a bit of a struggle.”

MLE President Richard Shea said it was all a big success and he hopes to come back.

“Louisiana is known for its great food, so we love to compete here,” Shea said. “The people of Larose have been great and it’s been a fun-filled weekend and a big success.”