Gonzales Jambalaya Festival kicks off; cooks remember Tee Wayne Abshire

Cooks participating in Gonzales Jambalaya Festival honor Tee Wayne Abshire

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - For Memorial Day weekend, 90 cooks are going head to head to see who makes the best jambalaya.

To win, there are a few things that are a must.

“You’ve got to have consistency,” said Kade Lanoux. “You gotta’ be able to nail it every time. The final product got to have a good chicken flavor and good rice.”

Lanoux and Tyler Billingsley know what it takes to win. They have been competing together since 2012. In 2017, they took home top honors.

(Source: WAFB)

"A good friend, Tee Wayne Abshire, we didn’t have any desire to get into festivals and one day he said, ‘Hey, you guys want to cook? I’ll sponsor y’all.’ So me and Tyler looked at each other and we said sure,” Lanoux said.

In March, their friend and mentor suffered a major heart attack and died. He was only 51-years-old.

"Everybody around here knew who he was,” Billingsley said. “He helped out a lot in the community, did a lot of festivals, just, he'd normally be cooking right alongside of us right now."

In his place this year is a simple memorial: an empty jambalaya pot on a stack of wood.

(Source: WAFB)

"It's great, it really is,” Billingsley said. “Just to put that out there for him so everybody here can see it. You know, almost like he's here."

In his absence, Lanoux and Billingsley hope to take home another win to honor Ashmire.

"This would definitely be a year to win it for him and we know he's looking over us and all we can do is the best we can,” Lanoux said.

To do that, they say they’re using all Abshire’s old secrets... secrets they would not tell anyone else.

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