HITCHCOCK — The first of two high-stakes cooking competitions will begin this evening with the seafood cook-off grilled shrimp division judging.

About 150 teams signed up to compete this weekend in four traditional and tasty categories including gumbo, grilled shrimp, grilled fish and seafood rice.

Brett Ottoman, who owns the Flamingo Steak and Seafood on the island, started the seafood cook off in 2005 with 32 entrants.

“It’s exciting what’s happened to this thing,” Ottoman said. “People go absolutely nuts competing against one another to prove who makes the best gumbo or grilled shrimp in the county. It’s a great combination of competition and camaraderie.”

Galveston County is the best place in the state for a seafood cook-off, he said.

“I think it represents Texas better than any other because it has all the seafood industries,” Ottoman said.

Double M Cookers, whose first-place standings in the grilled shrimp and seafood rice divisions earned them an overall winner designation in 2012, have returned for another chance to taste the glory.

Judging starts today and the awards presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

This weekend’s seafood cook-off will be followed by the barbecue cook off Thursday through April 20.

Contact reporter Whitney Hodgin at 409-683-5236 or whitney.hodgin@galvnews.com.

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