Another year will pass before the World Jambalaya Championship will see the reigning champ successfully defend his crown.
2013 king of jambalaya Scott Duplechein was bested, and had his golden paddle wrenched from his bosom on the grounds of the Gonzales Civic Center this past weekend by Hoss Reine and his son Hoss Fly Reine.
I like the appellation hoss.
I've used it a few thousand times in my life. It's how a southern man greets another southern man in certain parts of the US. It's all in how you say it, but generally it's a sign of affection or respect. Hoss Cat, in its adjectival form is a show of deep respect unless it's applied to the feminine form in which case it's a light insult.
No southern lady wishes to be referred to as hoss cat.
Strolling onto the proving grounds on a Sunday afternoon, we're gladdened by the site of dozens of hardwood fires blazing away. They're built right on the ground and crowned with giant cast iron pots burbling with jambalaya as rugged men stir their creations with long, metal paddles.
And there's a pregnant gal working her ass off too. Laci Murphy, soaked in sweat, her belly heavy with child has made the final round after two furious days of heats designed to allow the cream of the crop of this year's cooks to rise to the top.
The smell of frying onions and garlic is heavy on the Ascension Parish air.
Off in the distance, a cover band is tackling Funkadelic, and oddly enough, they're doing it justice. Perhaps a first for Gonzales?
We step off to the side after a bit to chat with the judges who have been requisitioned up under some shelter to keep their wits about them under the hot Louisiana sun.
There are only five of them. An inquiry as to how much weight they'll put on over the course of the affair is met with guffaws. "I've gained six pounds" claims one. Another mentions that he will sample 188 separate plates by the time his duties are done.
All for the good of jambalaya.
Reigning Jambalaya Queen Lauren Victoria Blouin of Prairieville steps around the corner of the judging area looking like a million dollars. The gene pool in Ascension Parish must be a mile deep we reckon.
The judges break camp and head for the main stage to announce the winner in front of a crowd of several thousand people. A festival worker appears with the golden paddle that will be awarded to the jambalaya king.
"What's the paddle made of?"
"I don't know but it sure is heavy"
"Is it plated with gold?"
"Yeah, I think so"
2013 champ Scott Duplecheine takes the stage and mentions that this is his 80th cook since he won the title last year. Heavy responsibilities weigh the head of the jambalaya king.
And we have a winner!
Our 2014 world champion cook is Mr. Robert "Hoss" Reine. His helper is son, Brett "Hoss Fly" Reine.
"I can't believe it. I am so overwhelmed that I don't even know how I feel right now other than over the moon. I can't wait to represent the Jambalaya Festival Association all year long. This is a dream come true. I've been cooking with my son since 2011, and I am so proud to be able to share this win with him. This truly is a special moment, and I cannot tell you how happy I am."
Reine picked up $2000 from the festival, and another $1000 from the contestant pool as well as numerous other small prizes and booty.