Clam chowder, fish taco, wild mushroom and jambalaya cook-offs are proving to be a success in enticing visitors to Lincoln City, according to the Lincoln City Visitors & Convention Bureau.
The events began in 2007, with Bureau Director Sandy Pfaff coordinating the first Chowder Cook-off.
“The cook-offs began as a new way to engage visitors, highlighting new culinary experiences, local ingredients and promoting local chefs and restaurants,” said Scott Humpert, the Bureau’s public relations coordinator.
While Humpert said it is nearly impossible to determine the revenue impact of the cook-offs, the Bureau’s surveys reveal they are a popular draw to Lincoln City.
“Chowder is our largest, this year drawing roughly 2,500 people compared to the 547 that attended the Jambalaya Cook-off,” he said. “About 50 to 70 percent of cook-off attendees are overnighters, 20 to 30 percent are day-trippers and about 10 to 15 percent are local. Overnighters spend approximately three times as much as a day-tripper.”
Humpert said social media activity has helped spread the word about the festive food events.
“As more people are learning about cooking, it has become a word-of-mouth thing,” he said. “More people are on social media, helping these cook-offs to have a track record.”
The Bureau’s sixth annual Mardi Gras-style Jambalaya Cook-Off will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Culinary Center, 801 S.W. Highway 101, fourth floor of the Lincoln City City Hall.
Jambalaya, one of the Creole Cookery's hallmarks, varies widely from cook to cook. It always contains rice, and a variety of other ingredients may be used, including tomatoes, onions, green peppers and almost any kind of meat, poultry or fish.
The Lincoln City competition will include chefs from throughout the Northwest competing to take home one of two titles: “Best Jambalaya,” which will be judged by a panel of professional judges, and “People’s Choice,” in which the public will make the final call.
Participating chefs for this year's event include Jocelyn Kelly of Vancouver, WA's Gumbo Goddess Catering, Jacob Moore of Pacific City's Pelican Pub and Brewery, and Jack Strong from Chinook Winds Casino Resort, Greg Hill from Deli 101, Steve Williamson from Roadhouse 101, Ethan Granberg from Rockfish Bakery and Jason Jobe from Vivian's Restaurant all of Lincoln City.
Professional judging will be provided by Louisiana native Scott Salmons of Depoe Bay, long-time chef, owner of Blackfish Café in Lincoln City and co-founder of the Culinary Center in Lincoln City, Rob Pounding, and Dorinda Goddard of Dockside Charters in Depoe Bay who has been participating in the Jambalaya Cook-Off since its inception.
Attendees will have the opportunity to sample a variety of different recipes and discover what makes Jambalay a popular dish. Admission to the Jambalaya Cook-Off is free, with samples available for 50 cents each and serving sized portions of your favorite jambalaya available for $3 to $5. Authentic King Cake, which is associated with Mardi Gras traditions and is served throughout the Carnival season, will be available to sample provided by Depoe Baykery of Depoe Bay. The Ivie-Meziere Trio will entertain the crowd with Zydeco-style music. Nelscott Wine Shop will supply local beer and wine, My Petite Sweet will have themed cupcakes for sale and the Lincoln City Young Professionals will be providing soda and water.
For more details, contact the Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau at 800-452-2151 or visit http://www.oregoncoast.org/jambalaya-cook-off.