SOULARD—What’s the best part of a pre-Mardi Gras Festival? “The food, absolutely,” says Jeff Gillmeister of St. Charles, who has been attending the Cajun Cook-Off for the past four years.
While the streets of Soulard may have been cold and filled with remnants of the prior night’s snowstorm, the inside of the big white tent erected on the south side of Soulard Market resembled Bourbon Street itself.
The Cajun Cook-Off featured eight teams of two contending for the title and a unique trophy, an engraved butcher’s knife. The teams featured multiple combinations of friends and families, all hoping to dethrone the reigning champs.
Duo Brad Huesgen and Trevor Stephens have taken home the title four years in a row. The longtime friends say they have a passion for cooking but never expected it to take them to where they are now.
“When we started doing this event, we never thought we’d win, and then to keep winning has been one part stressful, but 100 parts just awesome and amazing,” said Huesgen.
Joe Ambrose, Vice Chairman of First Bank, was one of this year’s judges.
“It’s always a lot of fun because I like to cook and I like to eat, so it’s interesting to see what other people like from their kitchen,” said Ambrose.
“It’s a big party, it’s just a fun time and a good build up to Mardi Gras.”
Huesgen and Stephens saw their four-year reign come to an end as a new duo, David Frissell and Stacey Whyte, took home the title this year with their jambalaya stuffed chicken thigh with a crawfish corn maque choux.
The Cajun Cook-Off is just one of many events leading up to the Soulard Mardi Gras parade March 2nd. Other events include the Missouri Lottery 5K, the Taste of Soulard, the Pet Parade and the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball.