Harrison County

What’s in the winner’s pot at Sun Herald Gumbo Championship?

The Coast’s newest casino took the top prize in the Sun Herald Gumbo Championship at the 35th annual Biloxi Seafood Festival on Sunday. And it was their first time in the competition.

Staffer Billy Colston shouted, “We’re taking the Pot to the Pearl,” as the Best of Show trophy, a miniature gumbo pot, went to the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville.

Otis Dickerson, the Pearl’s buffet room chef who recently moved here from Louisiana, topped their gumbo with fried soft-shell crab, a boudin fritter and pickled cherry peppers, according to his staff.

The competition was stiff. Boomtown Casino’s Deandre Frost, executive sous chef, topped his samples with a loaded seafood crab cake that included crawfish, shrimp and lobster.

Walking away from Hard Rock Casino Biloxi’s booth, Ty Palazzo, 8, of Biloxi said, “Oh yeah. It’s really good.”

His mom and dad said the family brought him to the festival because “He’s the family professional gumbo guru.”

“We’re here for him,” his father Brad Palazzo said.

When asked to describe the gumbo in his cup, Ty said, “It has rice, shrimp and crabmeat and this liquid. All of it makes it good.”

Grumpy Gumbo, the lone amateur gumbo booth from Latimer, topped their gumbo with potato salad. Grumpy Gumbo won both the amateur category and best booth decoration.

Pam Leach said the potato salad topper is an old Southern tradition. They also have oysters in their mix.

The Biloxi Seafood Festival was at the Point Cadet Plaza, which is at the foot of the Biloxi Bay Bridge, in the shadow of the Seafood Museum. More than 1,000 people showed up for the two-day event.

Shannon Hamm, in charge of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants at Golden Nugget in Biloxi and also in New Orleans, said she was having a great time at their booth.

“We’ve been open two years. This is our first year to compete,” she said. “I just love it. I can’t believe how many people are out here. It gives us a chance to meet some great people who didn’t know we are right across the street.”

The winners:

  • Professional: Scarlet Pearl Casino, first place; Boomtown Casino Biloxi, second place; Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, third place
  • Amateur: Grumpy Gumbo of Latimer
  • People’s Choice: Ms. Audrey’s Kitchen and Catering, Gulfport
  • Best of Show: Scarlet Pearl Casino