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Gumbo Galore: Celebrating Mardi Gras with Flavorful Delights

We specialize in creating menus that are as unique and personalized as your vision, including the vibrant theme of a Cajun-inspired celebration. Our food shines with fun and exciting items that capture the essence of Lousinana's rich food culture. Kick off the festivities with some of our favorites and enjoy Lynette's 1st Place Gumbo Recipe!

Family Style Lousiana Shrimp Boil

1st Place Winning Gumbo

Cajun Jambalaya

Crispy Catfish Bites with Remoulade

Blackened Chicken with Creole Mustard

New Orleans name a few!

The Winning Gumbo Recipe

Coral Casino, Santa Barbara
Coral Casino, Santa Barbara

I originally wrote this article for Food & Home Magazine more than 20 years ago, before I’d started Pure Joy Catering. Now, this is basically what I do for the company, still, 18+ years later. I research & attempt to master dishes from all over the world. It takes an endless curiosity and a passion for learning which suits me, plus I love all food!

I have hosted several cooking contests, but never entered one. I had heard that the Coral Casino was having a “Gumbo Cook-off” but I had no intention of entering it. Louisiana was still on my “Must See Someday” list & I had never made gumbo, never even seen gumbo. But after the third “You’ve got to enter! You’re the only member that’s a chef!” comment, I reconsidered.

So I went to work. What is gumbo? Well...I read, and I read some more. I talked to people in the know, I asked about common ingredients and flavor. What I came away with is gumbo means many different things from a seafood, chicken, sausage, beef – or any combination of those – soup type pottage, sometimes spicy, sometimes not. Okra is a classic ingredient, so I included that. Two other details became eminently clear; a great gumbo must start with good, rich, homemade stock & a well made roux. My grandfather was a great chef, and the only father I ever knew, and he taught me exactly how to do both. I was in!

But the competition was stiff, Cyril, an ol’ Louisiana boy – and the Biltmore Chef – was signed up as well as the Coral Casino Manager, Kevin, who had won the last three cook-offs. All the gumbos were different, some with shrimp, one even had the heads in there. The tasting went on for a full hour, the crowds mingled & whispered, and went back and tasted some more, then silently filled out their ballots.

Lo and behold – I won! I couldn’t believe it. I quietly thanked grandpa, only wishing he could have tasted it.


Mastering chicken stock alone – or just bothering to make it at all – can lead to an array of unforgettable meals, and it’s embarrassingly simple, my trick is to let it simmer 8 hours. But I’m warning you, those watery little cans will never be the same for you again. Make an extra batch from time to time & freeze in small cup bags to use as needed. I always have a baggie of bones gathering in the freezer for stock & its super easy in a crock pot.

5 qt. water

2 unpeeled onions, quartered

4 celery ribs, halved

2 carrots

4 smashed cloves of garlic

3.4 to 4 pounds of chicken legs, necks, whatever (no livers)

Bring to a boil, then simmer 8 hours over low heat, add water as needed. Drain into a colander set over a large pot or bowl. Mash the solids to get every last drop, then refrigerate. Once cold remove the fat from the top.


Serve with rice.

3 lbs. chicken parts

Rub; 1 heaping tbl. Of each, mixed; Cayenne, garlic powder and salt

1 ½ cups flour

Vegetable oil (enough to fill your iron frying pan 1 ½ inches)

1 cup each, diced; celery, green bell pepper, and onion

12 oz. hot Portuguese sausage, cubed

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cans of cut okra, drained

Rub the rub into the chicken. Pour the flour & ½ teaspoon more Cayenne, garlic powder and salt into a big paper bag & shake the chicken in there to coat. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan till it just starts to smoke. I had a cooking teacher in Brazil once who would throw a wooden match into the oil & if it lite, it was hot enough). Fry the chicken until dark golden on both sides, remove & set aside to cool. In another pan sauce the sausage cubes until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon & set aside.

Now the roux; Measure out ¾ cup oil from the sausage drippings, add some from the chicken if you need to. Return it to the sausage pan over high heat. Measure out ¾ cup of flour from the paper bag (adding some if needed) and toss it into he hot oil, blending constantly with a long-handled whisk. When the roux is very dark brown add the diced veggies & turn the heat to low. Stir with a wooden spoon about 6 minutes while bringing 2 qts. of your stock to a boil in another pot. Add your roux & veggies gradually to the boiling stock, stirring. Deglaze the roux pan with a ladle full of your stock & return every drop to the pot. Add the sausage, garlic, drained okra, salt & pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered over medium low heat at least 1 ½ hours.

While that’s cooking debone your chicken & dice it. Add it to the pot during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Adjust seasoning. Serve over rice. Holds well.


Lynette La Mere,

Owner and Founding Executive Chef


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