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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Southern Gumbo Trail


Jimmy Picard, David Wormser, Everett McBride, Jody Suire and Shane Crochet

October 2008 marked the 19th Annual World Championship Gumbo Cook-Off, an event that seems to overtake the entirety of downtown New Iberia, infusing it with the celestial aromas of simmering stocks and toasty rouxs. Contestants may enter the competition as amateur or professional cooks, and their gumbos may spar in one of three categories: chicken and sausage, seafood, or mélange (rabbit and turkey gumbos, for example, fit into the latter category). The challenge for all competitors is to produce both roux and stock onsite the morning of the event, beginning when a canon sounds at 6:30 a.m., and to finish cooking by the time customers come knocking at 11 a.m. There’s no time for burning your roux; no room for any error at all. All of our 2008 interviewees cited “fun” as the primary reason they became involved with such an impossible contest, which demonstrates why the Cajuns are some of our favorite people.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen


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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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