As most foodies would agree, there’s nothing like watching a Chef showdown – especially when we get to participate in the judging. Yes, this happened. Our food journey of Baton Rouge led us to an epic event — the Fête Rouge Chefs Competition.
At this annual competition, Chefs from Baton Rouge & area prepare unique Southern-inspired dishes in the hopes of winning a Gold Medal. The best part? Foodies are invited to taste all the delicacies and sample over 200 wines, and then cast their ballot for the People’s Choice Awards. All in one evening.
So I put on my fanciest, loose-fitting dress, ready to fulfill my civic duty of tasting weird and wonderful dishes at Fête Rouge. Monotony was impossible with concoctions that involved bacon-wrapped shrimp, turtle, alligator, chocolate, and Cajun seafood. Here are my top weird and wonderful dishes from Fête Rouge:
It may look like fried chicken, but it’s not. Chefs Cody and Samantha Carroll from Hot Tails Restaurant created a unique Southern dish: Creux-Creux-Louisiana Froglegs with peas, strawberry fig pepper jam, and meat from – gulp – snapping turtle and alligator.
I help myself to the Louisiana Crab Frittata (above). I’m not a big egg fan, but this tastes like a savoury fried patty mixed with onions, herbs, and Tabasco aioli. I’d love to make eat this as a breakfast dish.
I dare you to try to pronounce this classic Louisiana dish: Southern Bouillabaisse (below). Chef Nelson Chang from the Crowne Plaza Hotel created an eclectic stew of Gulf and Louisiana seafood. Shrimps, crab legs, clams, and vegetables are blended in a bouillabaisse broth and crab boil rouille – a sauce of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers. This is a fish stew that warms your insides – and burns your tongue a little with a Southern kick!
There ain’t no party like a taco party! Or at least, it feels like a Mardi Gras celebration in my mouth when I sample the Louisiana shrimp tacos (below). Each shell is stuffed to the brim with smoked shrimp, tasso (a Louisiana-style spicy ham) and topped with thick layers of fresh pico de gallo and avocado. Want to sample similar Southern dishes? Check out the menu at Restaurant IPO in Baton Rouge.
And continuing along the taco lane – how about Blackened Alligator Taco in a cup (below)? I hesitate at first – but it tastes like spicy popcorn chicken to me. Serve it as an appetizer at your next party, and you’ll never live it down.
For me, the Shrimp and Grits (below) is the crowning glory of the evening. Plump grilled shrimp are stuffed with blue crab and wrapped in Cajun bacon – pure genius. I take one bite, and again ask to man in the sky: can anything wrapped in bacon ever be bad? The “grit cake” tastes like the Southern version of latkes – a thick, deep fried cake with mixed greens and a corn maque choux puree.
This is death by chocolate: a milk chocolate air cake with praline crunch and caramel (below). See the little needles stuck in the cakes? It’s filled with caramel – injecting sweetness into an already decadent dessert. Careful: it’s addictive. All hail Chef Estevez – who not only created this masterpiece, but won second place in the desserts category!
Dying to check out some of these weird and wonderful Southern dishes? Get your ticket to the next Fête Rouge Chefs Competition in Baton Rouge. Tickets are $50 and flights to Baton Rouge and New Orleans depart from Pearson International Airport. Bon appétit!
Fête Rouge Chefs Competition
Friday, August 22, 2014
Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge
To plan your trip, check out the Visit Baton Rouge website.
The writer was a guest of Visit Baton Rouge. The tourism board did not review or approve this article.