At Sandestin, geaux gumbo or geaux home!

Slick Lips, Sports to Geaux, Beach House take top awards

By Michelle Farnham
Feb. 20, 2022

SANDESTIN – The number of people scrambling to find tickets in the days leading up to the sold-out Sandestin Gumbo & Bloody Mary Festival is a testament to how this event has grown in its 33 years.

The 1,800 folks lucky enough to have secured themselves a coveted red wristband were treated to 18 gumbo tasters and 13 Bloody Mary samples, as they pursue of roux.

Sports to Geaux
Sports to Geaux won People’s Choice and Best Display.

Gumbo recipes vary as much as the chefs stirring the pots, and each was competing for judges’ awards and the People’s Choice plaque.

Cafe Nola from DeFuniak Springs included fried crawfish and whole shrimp in their Cajun stew, while Signature Catering 30A opted for a chicken and andouille sausage combo.

“Hey y’all, you’re going to want to try this one, it comes with a crab leg!” shouted one enthusiastic patron, pointing at the Southern Yankee Queen tent.

Chef Jay Ammons of Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House, who has several gumbo trophies to his name, dished up his 2022 recipe, promising, “It’s even better than last year!”

Rotolo Consultants brought an authentic – but secret – Cajun recipe from their Slidell, La., headquarters, which proved good enough for second place in the non-restaurant category.

“We’re landscapers by trade, but we make gumbo by heart,” said Rotolo area manager Matt Herbermann. “We do the landscaping here at Baytowne; this is our first time doing this and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Among the tiniest tasters of the day, 4-year-old Collie Brantley of Montgomery came decked out in her Mardi Gras best.

“I ate gumbo, yes ma’am, it was good!” she said with a smile.

Hurricane Oyster Bar
Hurricane Oyster Bar offered both gumbo and Bloody Marys.

The Bloody Mary competition was added a few years ago, and definitely adds a little pep to the afternoon. Spicy or sweet, thick or thin, it was a battle of the garnishes. Sunset Bay Cafe topped their cocktail with bacon; The Village Door opted for pickled okra, green bean and an olive; and Ovide at Hotel Effie practically brought a salad with pickle- and bleu cheese-stuffed olives, cocktail onion, celery stick and a lemon wedge.

Louisiana’s own Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe kept the party hopping from the bandstand as the crowd waited for the presentation of the awards.

Dikki Du
Dikki Du & the Zydeco Krewe gave a few lucky kids a chance to play the frottoir.

Judges included Phil Heppding of 30A Food & Wine, Laura Hussey of Channel 3 News, realtor Daron Walters, Nathalie Barreto of Blue Magnolia, Chef Chad Oosterveen, and News Channel 7 veterans Scott Rossman and Paris Janos. Rossman and Janos were back to emcee the awards.

“They sold out before they even opened the gates today, 1,800 tickets!” Rossman told the crowd. “As judges, we’re looking for appearance, texture, aroma and overall taste. Tasting 20 gumbos is a little harder than you think; you have to starve yourself for about 48 hours coming in!

“When you get a chance to get out to the Village of Baytowne Wharf and come to an event with this kind of weather and venue, with this kind of organization and food and adult beverages, it is a serious blessing. God bless the free state of Florida, the United States of America, and God bless you all,” Rossman concluded.

The 34th annual Sandestin Gumbo and Bloody Mary Festival is slated for Feb. 17 and 18, 2023.

Ovide earned second in the 5 years and under category and Best New Participant.

2022 Awards

Best Gumbo – 5 years and under

1. Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House
2. Ovide at Hotel Effie
3. The Beach House
4. The Gulf
Honorable Mention: Cafe Nola

Veteran Category

1. Harry T’s
2. The Village Door
3. Marina Bar & Grill


1. Dock & Deck Techs
2. Rotolo Consultants

People’s Choice

1. Sports to Geaux
2. Cafe Nola
3. The Beach House

Best Display

Sports to Geaux

Best New Participant

Ovide at Hotel Effie

Best Bloody Mary at the Beach

1. The Beach House
2. Sunset Bay Cafe
3. Drunken Goat Saloon

JVC Community Broadcasters award

Dock & Deck Techs

Photos by Michelle Farnham