Some like it hot - Gumbo contest stirs up big crowd

Rich McMann, left, and Phil Hale both of Michigan are old hands at the Gumbo Contests and were busying tasting as many as they could. “I like it all,” McMann said who’s been to the event 10 times.

They came in droves Saturday morning to get a taste of some of the best gumbo around at the annual Destin History and Fishing Museum Gumbo Contest and Silent Auction at the Destin Community Center.

Eighteen area restaurants along with 22 individuals cooked up their best recipes hoping to capture the taste buds of the more than 600 folks that attended the event.

Jerry and Betsy McCrory of New Orleans, who were visiting the area and heard about the contest, cooked up their best gumbo and entered the event.

"We come a couple of times a year," Jerry said. But this was their first time to enter the contest.

"Competition looks like it's going to be pretty tough," Betsy added as she tasted some of the other gumbos.

Individuals who entered were assigned letters to their pots, while the restaurants were given numbers. The McCrory's were the letter N.

A little before 11 o'clock, people started to pour into the Community Center and lined up for cups of gumbo.

"We're marking the ones we like," said Marie Gibson of Miramar Beach. "I like Harry T's so far," Gibson said with four or five cups balanced on her tray.

"I haven't quite decided yet," said Gibson's friend, Carol Frank of Santa Rosa Beach, who was a first-timer to the event.

Snowbirds Rich McMann and Phil Hale of Michigan were old hands at the Gumbo Contest with 10 and 12 years under their belt of attending and tasting.

"I like it all," McMann said. However, he did say he looks for a gumbo that is "a little hot and the flavoring that goes along with it."

"I like a little heat and shrimp," Hale said.

Saturday was a first for Andy Murphy of Pensacola Beach as well.

"This is our first time, but this is what we came for," Murphy said. "There are some really good gumbos out here. Sunquest and Boshamps are in the running."

For Murphy, he said he likes a lot of flavor, seafood, but "not too much texture."

While some were tasting gumbo, others were getting their bids in on the silent auction items. The packages included everything from a two-night stay in New Orleans, to a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., a wooden carved chess set and even a few fishing trips aboard some of our area's finest vessels.

Organizers said the event was the biggest ever and the proceeds will benefit Destin History and Fishing Museum.



18 restaurants and 22 individuals competed in the gumbo cook-off. The winners were:

Restaurant Division:

First Place: Boathouse

Second Place: Crab Island Cantina

Third Place: Harry T's

Individual Division:

First Place: Tom Ogle

Second Place: Charlie Noonan

Third Place: Anna Boudreau

People's Choice:

Restaurant Division: Crab Island Cantina

Individual Division: Alvin F. Claybrone