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Jambalaya cook-off set for Aug. 28

Illustration by Ben Hillyer
Illustration by Ben Hillyer

The United Way is looking for the Godfather of Jambalaya to get on up at the organization’s annual cook-off later this month.

This year’s theme is “Get On Up” based on the James Brown biographical movie directed by Mississippian Tate Taylor and filmed in Natchez and the surrounding areas.

Last year, Scott Adams and his coworkers from Silas and Simmons won first place in the annual United Way jambalaya cook-off fundraiser.

Adams said he’s got his eye on the prize for a second year, but won’t be as involved in the cooking this year.

“This is going to be a year where we kind of pass the torch along to some of the younger guys in the firm who have joined recently,” Adams said. “We want to give them a chance to get involved with this great community event and, hopefully, get us that first place again.”

The key to the accounting group’s cuisine ranking supreme this year, however, will still rely heavily on Adams.

“Well, I do have my secret recipe, and I will be allowing the younger guys to use it and maybe even take their own spin on it,” Adams said. “We’ll see what they come up with.”

The 10th annual United Way jambalaya cook-off is a kickoff to the 2014 United Way Community Investment Pledge Drive, a three-month fundraising campaign.

The United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou supports 13 local agencies. The goal of the United Way is to provide a central agency that individuals and businesses can support which then provides funding for a variety of worthy causes.

“This is one of the many ways that we’re able to raise money for so many of these great organizations we support throughout the Miss-Lou,” business director Tammy Prince said. “It’s also a great time to bring together businesses and residents from across the community who want to have a good time while helping raise money for others.”

The jambalaya cook-off, Prince said, has become one of the United Way’s staple fundraisers and always draws a huge response from the community.

Adams echoed Prince’s statements saying it was a great time for the Silas Simmons group to come together, while also helping the community.

“It’s hard to find anybody over here that doesn’t like getting out of the office every now and then and having a good time, but this is even better because it helps the community out so much,” Adams said. “It’s something we always look forward to.”

The cook-off offers a first, second and third place award for the jambalaya competition and a spirit award for the best decorated team booth.

Fourteen teams were signed up to participate in the cook-off as of Monday, but Prince said she hopes to get a few more before the event.

Groups of guest judges will score the jambalaya platters on overall appearance, texture of rice and overall taste.

“The identity of the judges will be kept secret before and during the event to make sure everyone gets a fair shot at winning the big prize,” Prince said. “We think that’s the best way to go about judging these different jambalaya plates.”

A donation of $7 includes a jambalaya plate with salad, roll, dessert and a drink.

Jambalaya sampling cups can be purchased for $1.

This year’s total goal is $150,000 — with most of that coming from company-run campaigns.

Employees of participating businesses can elect to have a specific amount deducted from every paycheck.

Local businesses, Prince said, can also purchase a table sponsorship for $50, which places a nameplate on the tables at the convention center.

To compete in the jambalaya cook-off, get information about a table sponsorship or for any other information, contact the United Way at 601-442-1081.

The cook-off fundraiser will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 28, at the Natchez Convention Center.