Jambalaya Fest This Weekend on Central Oregon Coast
(Lincoln City, Oregon) – Somewhere, in the hallowed halls of memory for many, the term jambalaya will evoke the comical cry of Newman from Seinfeld, exclaiming “Jambalaya!” as he slinks along the streets of New York with a bowl of the good stuff from the infamous “Soup Nazi.”
Reality is tastier than fiction, however.
Here, however, on the central Oregon coast, jambalaya is the center of a massive festival of fine food, as Lincoln City presents the 7th Annual Jambalaya Cook-Off at the Culinary Center this weekend: February 21.
It happens from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and boasts a festive Mardi Gras theme. The event will feature professional chefs from around the Pacific Northwest. Competing for the first time, Chef John Sowa from Sweet Basils Café in Cannon Beach brings his expertise of Cajun-styled cuisine to the cook-off.
"I used to live in Louisiana, which is where I learned how to cook traditional Creole and Cajun dishes" said Sowa. "I took what I learned and applied it to my restaurant, Lil' Bayou, which I opened in Seaside and owned for several years. After I sold it, and opened Sweet Basils, I slowly started integrating Cajun into the regular menu. My customers were demanding it, so I couldn't help but oblige."
Sowa says the key to good Jambalaya is having fresh local ingredients. "I try very hard to source local. I use local caught oysters in my jambalaya as well as chicken, shrimp, and ham. But I do have craw fish and Andouille sausage brought straight from Louisiana for my dish."
Sowa will be among those competing with seven other professional chefs from around the Pacific Northwest for top honors and the People's Choice Award. Guests get to try each chef's interpretation of this Creole comfort food and vote for their favorite. Attendance to the event is free and samples are available for $0.75 each. Portion sized servings of jambalaya can also be purchased for $3 and $5.
"I am excited to compete in this event,” Sowa said. “I don’t do many competitions, so it will be fun to participate and meet the other chefs.”
The Lincoln City Culinary Center presents four annual cook-offs: Jambalaya, Fish Taco, Wild Mushroom, and Chowder, each featuring some of the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest. For more information on the Jambalaya Cook-Off contact the Lincoln City Visitor and Convention Bureau at 800-452-2151 or visit http://www.oregoncoast.org/jambalaya-cook-off.
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