Big Blend Radio

Will Your Jambalaya Reign Supreme?

New Orleans’ “Top Chef Masters” Chef-testant John Besh and Zatarain’s Challenge Home Cooks Everywhere to a “Jambalaya Throwdown”



Jambalaya is essential to any New Orleans menu and each recipe reflects the personality and passion of the cook who made it. To celebrate this versatile dish, New Orleans’ own “Top Chef Masters” Chef-testant John Besh and Zatarain’s – the brand serving up New Orleans-Style cuisine for 120 years – are challenging cooking enthusiasts across the country to a “Jambalaya Throwdown.” Whether it’s chock full of seafood, sausage, wild game, eggplant, okra or other original ingredients, enter your tastiest, most original jambalaya recipe for a chance to win $2,500 and national bragging rights as the creator of the tastiest jambalaya in the U.S.A. 


“Jambalaya is a mealtime staple in my family. This one-pot dish can be made with whatever meats, seafood, vegetables and spices you have on-hand, lending itself to an endless number of flavor possibilities,” said John Besh, executive chef of Restaurant August. “The experts at Zatarain’s recognize how important personal creativity and preference are when creating a dish like this, so we encourage folks to let their imagination run wild and show America who they are as a Throwdown competitor.”


Besh offers the following tips to help inspire cooks when creating their own jambalaya recipes:

- For a vegetarian jambalaya – that packs all the flavor of a meat-filled version – add eggplant, zucchini, squash, and plenty of onions and garlic.

- Instead of using sausage, substitute ground turkey or chicken with a sprinkling of Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning. Then, add a couple drops of liquid smoke flavoring.

- Add ham, ginger, garlic, scallions and a spoonful of Hoisin sauce to jambalaya, along with a scrambled egg, for "fried rice jambalaya."


A New Orleans-Style Throwdown

Home cooks are encouraged to enter the “Jambalaya Throwdown” contest by submitting their best take on jambalaya, starting with the simple Zatarain’s rice mix, to A panel of judges, including Chef Besh, will judge the recipes and score them on originality, taste and creativity.  Contest entries will be accepted through July 31, 2009.

“While we may be partial to our jambalaya in Louisiana, we know there are some innovative and delicious dishes that people are making around the country,” said Dudley Passman, Zatarain’s chef. “That’s why we can’t wait to see what recipes are entered into the contest and sample the finalists’ dishes to determine a winner.”


Zatarain’s offers a number of jambalaya mixes that just require adding meat or seafood to ensure a perfectly spiced, delicious meal every time. Available varieties include:

- Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix

- Zatarain’s Reduced Sodium Jambalaya Mix

- Zatarain’s Brown Rice Jambalaya Mix

- Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix with Cheese


In addition to the contest, visitors to the Web site will find the “Jambalaya Generator,” a tool that offers a mix-and-match format to identify the best meats, seafood, vegetables and spices to include in jambalaya. Also, Chef Besh shares new ideas and tips from his kitchen on how to dish up a delicious jambalaya meal with a fresh twist every time.

For more about “Jambalaya Thowdown” including official rules, visit .  Also, on this site visitors can be directed to sign Zatarain’s Motion for Mardi Gras petition and join the Company’s efforts to ask Congress to declare the final day of Mardi Gras season an official holiday. Signatures must be received by November 30, 2009, to be included on the petition.

Additionally, become a Zatarain’s fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at

Chef John Besh on Big Blend Radio

Acclaimed chef John Besh grew up hunting and fishing in Southern Louisiana—learning at an early age the essentials of Louisiana’s rich culinary traditions. His talent and drive have earned Besh accolades from the onset and, most recently, an invitation to compete on Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef where he earned his way into the finals. fter graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, John completed an apprenticeship under famed German Chef Karl Josef Fuchs. He then spent time in the south of France refining his classical sensibilities under Alain Assaud. But it was his Southern roots that drew him back to New Orleans where he burst on the scene with his Restaurant August. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was instrumental in rebuilding not only his own restaurants but others as well, in the hopes of keeping the region’s culinary culture intact. In 2006, he won the James Beard Award for “Best Chef of the Southeast,” as well as Gourmet magazine’s declaration that Restaurant August was one of America’s “Top 50 Restaurants.” “Louisiana Restaurateur of the Year 2008” from the Louisiana Restaurant Association. The “Silver Spoon Award” from Food Arts magazine in 2009. The 2007 Zagat Guide rates Restaurant August #1 in New Orleans for food and service. He is now the owner of five restaurants: Restaurant August, Besh Steak, Lüke, La Provence and Domenica, set to open in July 2009

Chef Besh will be a featured guest on Big Blend Radio’s ‘Creative Celebrations show on July 22, airing live at 4pm PT. To listen to the Live Interview -Click Here!

Since 1889, Zatarain's has been an authority on the fun and flavor of New Orleans. From its humble beginnings producing root beer extract, the company has grown to make more than 200 food products from Rice Dinner Mixes, Pasta Dinner Mixes, Breadings, Seasonings and Spices to Seafood Boils, Creole Mustard and other products based on authentic New Orleans–Style foods and seafood preparation. Now, people around the world recognize that to capture the true flavor of New Orleans–Style cuisine, you have to "Jazz It Up with Zatarain's." For information, recipes and Zatarain’s online store, visit

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