Rainy weather was no deterrent to gumbo lovers attending Anglers for Conservation’s (AFC) Gumbo Wars. The event, held at Orlando’s Fish on Fire restaurant, provided a venue for cooking teams to compete for the title of gumbo champ. Cooking began at 10:00 am, serving began at 1:00 pm and ended a 5:00 pm.
The rules were simple. Food preparation was allowed in advance. All other cooking was done on site with a required result being 5 gallons of gumbo. Each team was responsible for cooking materials, tents and chairs. Fish on Fire provided the rice. The type of gumbo was left to individual teams.
The competing teams faced inclement weather as they mixed their ingredients of secret sauces and hush-hush condiments in hopes of gaining the coveted gumbo title. When asked how the weather affected the cooking, one team member said, “It won’t bother us in any way. It’s the same for everyone, and I don’t think it changes a thing.”
Likewise, hundreds of hungry visitors braved the rainy day to sample the offerings of the competing teams. The $10 admission fee (kids were free) to join in on the fun gave attendees the opportunity to eat all the gumbo they wanted and then to vote on the one they like best. The team getting the most votes would be crowned the winner.
Visitors also enjoyed silent auctions, raffles, free samples of various adult beverages, appetizers, promotional giveaways and live music. Silent auction items included fishing charters, art work, fishing equipment and much more.
Capt. Charlie Phillips and his wife Laura drove all the way from the Everglades to attend Gumbo Wars. After returning home from the event this post was seen on his Facebook page. “This is the best 10 dollars a captain can spend, all you can eat gumbo from 38 of the best teams around…. All for fisheries conservation and children’s fishing programs. A great Saturday.”
When the votes were counted and the winner was named it was John “BooDreaux” Baumann of Team Fishing Florida Radio. Commenting on the win he said, “Winning is always a team effort. It feels both gratifying and humbling for us to win.” He walked off with an engraved trophy that reads, “AFC Gumbo Wars Peoples Choice Gumbo Champion.”
Team FFR was sponsored by Jim and Dee Brandt, Sun Insurance Services and MudHole Custom Tackle. Other supporters include Cajun Rocket Pot, Ponchartrain Blue Crab, Bailey’s/Wayne Jacobs/Jacobs smoked meats (LaPlace, La), Verons Supermarket (Lutcher, La) and Louisiana Pepper Exchange.
The runner up team of Capt. Pat Murphy and Capt. Mark Wright were competing under the team name of Mosquito Lagoon Guides. They are first time competitors in a gumbo cook-off. They were quick to praise AFC for making the opportunity available. “We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Anglers for Conservation for allowing us to participate in this year’s Gumbo Wars. Since this event is our debut to competitive cooking, it’s fair to say we are thrilled beyond words with our second place finish in a field comprised of seasoned competitors!”
Third place went to Team Rookies lead by “Michigan” Mike Moen and his dad Paul Moen. “Winning is a really cool honor, but in reality we were just trying to please the people,” said Mike. “It was just plain old gumbo, but they liked it. The event is all about the charity and that is why we did it. We did it for the kids and are pleased that we could contribute to the cause.”
AFC-Orlando’s President, Capt. Tom Van Horn, was instrumental in organizing Gumbo Wars. “It was great to see all our fishing friends together and having a good time for a good cause,” said Van Horn. “I would like to thank all the volunteers, especially Vice-president Wade Leffel for all the hard work in making the event successful. Special thanks also to all the cooking participants. It is awesome to see all those teams cooking in support of what we do. I am feeling a whole lot of love from the outflow of support. I am already looking forward to next year and the opportunity to make it even better.”
AFC Gumbo Wars Central Florida’s Original Gumbo Cook-Off is a charity event with the proceeds going to support AFC programs, Project Healing Waters and numerous other veteran and children fishing oriented programs.
The major sponsors of Gumbo Wars 2014 include the Presenting Sponsor Fish on Fire Restaurant, Sweetwater Brewing Company, Fishing Florida Radio, Mosquito Creek Outdoors, Coastal Angler Magazine, Travel Company, 740 the Game and Hells Bay Boatworks.
For more information on Gumbo wars visit their website at http://www.afcgumbowars.com or their Facebook page by clicking here.