Good Food and Good Times for a Healthier Coast

03.01.2019 | In Community & Events
By Chris Haines & Bill Haines, Meraux Foundation

Second Annual Cook-off for the Coast Triples Last Year’s Funds Raised

This blog has also been published at and The St. Bernard Voice.

We all know our coast and wetlands are in significant danger, but what can we as individuals do about it?

Well, true to St. Bernard’s heritage of amazing food and caring people, crowds dug in at the second annual Cook-off for the Coast at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm on February 9th. Cook teams from throughout the area served up wild game dishes from Louisiana’s coastal wetlands to raise money and awareness in support of habitat preservation projects. In order to allow as many as possible to enjoy the event, admission was free, with money raised through sponsorships.

Chef John Folse Culinary institute team

“If it flies, walks, crawls, or swims along our coast, you could find it being served up to a lot of happy families,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation. “It was a tasty way for everybody to enjoy a fun and filling Saturday while supporting an important cause. We’d like to thank our partners, Restore the Mississippi River Delta, Vanishing Paradise, and the St. Bernard Parish Coastal and Tourism departments—and especially our sponsors, competitors and all who attended!”

Children enjoying one of the many interactive coastal displays.

Dave Clements of Team Islenos with Wild Boar Cuban

Twelve teams participated, cooking up such delights as Crawfish Egg Rolls, Duck Confit Tacos and more wild boar than you could shake a hog’s leg at. The family-friendly event raised three times the amount of money over the previous year’s event. Funds benefit the St. Bernard 4H mangrove planting project and the Nunez Community College and Chalmette High School CTE welding program, which is building oyster breakwaters. Proceeds from the first annual Cook-off went to the St. Bernard Wetlands Foundation and their tree-planting efforts.

Land loss has taken a heavy toll on Louisiana’s most beautiful and abundant resource over the last several of decades. Certainly, we can see the effects all around us, but there is much that we as communities can do to heal the damage. And in typical Louisiana-style, we can have a good time doing it, too.

And although our coastal wetlands are the big winner, the top teams of the cook-off were “People’s Choice” winner, Team Mudda Roux with their Fried Duck and Andouille Gumbo, Team Chew Rouge with their Mezcal Cured Tuna with Blue Crab Ceviche winning in the “swim” category, Team Islenos with their Wild Boar Cuban Sandwiches winning in the “crawl” category, and Team Parish Boyz with their tasty Duck Egg Rolls winning in the “fly” category.

Winners take the stage with custom trophies by Metal Artist Luis Colmenares of Chalmette

Great music was, of course, in abundance as well with entertainment provided by Michot Melody Makers with their boundary stretching Cajun sounds. Local favorite, Abita, made sure there was plenty of their fine product to wash down the great food.

Team Atmos showing off their culinary art work

The Meraux Foundation was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Her vision, now carried on by the Foundation’s board of directors, is to implement innovative ways to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard. The Cook-off for the Coast is just one of them.

Plans are already under way for next year’s Cook-off, with the hopes of including a vegetarian team in the lineup, along with some kid teams. In the meantime, volunteers are preparing for another coastal tree planting and attending the upcoming Mississippi River Delta Institute, which focuses on coastal and river issues. LSU’s AgMagic on the River is another upcoming event that is a must-see for anyone looking for a fun time with a good cause.

To keep these and other efforts going, the third annual Cook-off for the Coast is sure to be even bigger and better.

Keep an eye (and your mouth) open for it. 

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