Football with a side of gumbo

gumbo mumbo fan choice

“Gumbo Mumbo,” created by Russell Bittola and family, was selected as
Fan’s Choice this year. 
The Lion’s Roar / Heather Jewell

Southeastern fans were treated to steaming hot bowls of gumbo as they tailgated before the Lion’s football game against McNeese State University on Saturday for the last home game of the season.

Returning for the eighth year in a row, the cook-off featured eight chefs, each serving their own special recipe. 

Two awards were given to the best chefs attending: the Fans’ Choice Award and the Judges’ Choice Award. 

alum stirs gumbo

Gumbo Cook Off 2013 winners, Brynn Ballard and
her fiance Roger Mueller (above),  hoped to uphold
their title in 2014. 
The Lion’s Roar / Heather Jewell

Last year’s winners, Brynn Ballard and her fiancé Roger Mueller, returned for a second time, hoping to receive first place again. Mueller is a Southeastern alumnus who played football here from 2008-12.

“We have come every year since [the Gumbo Cook-Off] started eight years ago, and we have been to every home game this year, too,” said Mueller.

From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., tailgaters went to each booth and had a taste of gumbo, then, put money in “voting jars” at each table. At the end of the voting period, all jars were taken, counted and the winner announced. 

This year’s winner of the Fans’ Choice Award was “Gumbo Mumbo.”

For the second award, the Judges’ Choice, the judges each were blindfolded and given samples of every gumbo offered. The winner of the Judges’ Choice Award was the “Lion Up RV Tailgaters.”

Both winners were named at the game’s halftime. Each received a Game Day Gumbo Cook Off Champion gumbo paddle.

Another group was the “Drew Crew,” consisting of family members and friends to senior football player Drew Misita. They served up savory seafood gumbo with potato salad. 

This has been their fourth year competing in the cook-off. Though they have yet to win, they see it as a great way to stay involved with the school and show support to the players.

“Eli is Drew’s biggest fan. He is going to play for Southeastern one day and have number 20 just like [Drew],” said Mary Kay Misita, mother of the Lion player. 

She joked that even though her son could not have any, he wished he could steal a few bites of his family’s cooking.

The event has been adopted as the annual fundraiser for the Southeastern Louisiana Student-Athletes and all funds go to their community engagement and service projects held each year.

The event was open to all Southeastern fans that wished to compete. Each year, those eager to participate can register on before the determined deadline. They would also be provided with bowls to sample out their dishes and asked to bring “as much gumbo as they were willing to share,” said Sherry Kennemer, assistant athletic director. 

The “Drew Crew” (below right) came back for the fourth year
to show support for football player Drew Misita.

The Lion’s Roar / Heather Jewell