Crawfish boils all start out with the same basic ingredients, but along the way infinite style points, personal traditions and technique and customs accrue. This is what distinguishes the true cult of the crawfish boil from a mere seafood recipe. And that’s part of the mojo that organizers of a unique crawfish cooking competition hope to tap later this month as they select a crop of emissaries to lead crawfish boils across the country.
It’s called Clash of the Crawfish, and it comes from what may seem like an unexpected corner, Dinner Lab (dinnerlab.com). This New Orleans-based, and now-national company, usually presents social dining events prepared by up-and-coming chefs in unconventional locations.
Later this spring, however, it will also host a series of crawfish boils in its markets around the country, and it’s holding a contest in New Orleans to identify boil aficionados to travel and lend some native knowledge to the proceedings.
To be considered for competition, Dinner Lab wants to know your own back story on the boil, why you think yours is the best and a primer (though not the secrets) of your recipe.
“We’re interested in the stories as well as the techniques and recipes,” said Paco Roberts, a Dinner Lab co-founder.
They’ll winnow the field to a few dozen competitors, then set the stage for a cook off on Feb. 22 to pick winners to be dispatched around the country. Contestants must supply their own boiling rig, and from there Dinner Lab provides a sack of crawfish and a stipend to cover their customized ingredients.
The upshot for the public is a pay-one-price ticket ($30) to sample competition crawfish across the spectrum and help pick the best. In keeping with the Dinner Lab format, the venue is not divulged beforehand (though it’s somewhere in New Orleans).
“If this concept works, we could do something similar with traditions in other cities,” said Robert.
Could this mean New England clambake masters coming down to New Orleans sometime in the future? Perhaps, and if so you have to believe someone will suggest they add more pepper to the recipe.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.