HITCHCOCK — Everyone competing in the seafood cook-off was getting their hands dirty in the hours leading up to grilled shrimp judging at the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo Friday night. They were hard at work and having fun.
About 150 teams entered to compete in four categories that include grilled shrimp, grilled fish, gumbo and seafood rice.
Double M Cookers was a team that once specialized only in barbecue until they teamed up with a family of Cajuns and won best overall in the seafood division in 2012.
“We’re Cajun with a twist of cowboy,” Cindy Baker of Manville said. “Seafood’s in our blood. We love eating. This is how Cajuns enjoy each other.”
Baker worked alongside her children, sizzling bacon and stirring sauces while the woman who taught them all to cook — without recipes — peeled shrimp all under the Double M umbrella.
“It’s something in our heart,” 84-year-old Louisiana native Joyce Strahan said. “We love to cook. There’s no drama or arguing here.”
But the love stopped there, coordinator Mike Bock said. Double M Cookers were a sideways glance away from what Bock said was their stiffest competition in both the seafood and barbecue divisions — a team called The Other Cookers R Always in Heat.
“There’s a bunch of rivalry among the teams,” Bock said. “This is just the kick off to our season.”
Double M Cookers won second place in the Galveston County Triple Crown competition in 2012. The triple crown is an annual competition comprised of the top award winners from a year of cook offs beginning with the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo, Hitchcock Good Ole’ Days and Texas City Fun Fest.
The Other Cookers R Always in Heat won the triple crown in 2008.
“It’s all about bragging rights,” chief cook J.J. Hildebrand said. “It’s all about the community, the county and having a good time.”
The Other Cookers R Always in Heat has 59 members who originally hail from two teams, The Other Cookers and Always in Heat, that combined 11 years ago, Cathy Croft of Santa Fe said. The team is a rodeo sponsor.
In addition to a slew of seafood, their not-so-secret ingredients included 30 kegs of beer, 3,500 Jell-O shots and live music that’s known to draw more than 700 people on the eve of the barbecue cook off, she said.
“Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but there’s always a party at the end,” Croft said. “Still, it takes a lot of work to make it fun.”