The People’s Choice Award in the Cookies & Cocktails competition held by Girl Scouts Louisiana East went to Deanna Stephens, corporate executive chef of Winn-Dixie/BiLo Holdings, for her beef short ribs braised in a Samoa cookie and zinfandel demi over cracked pepper grits.

The competition was a highlight of the Cookies & Cocktails party benefiting Girl Scouts Louisiana East that was held Feb. 21 at Harrah’s New Orleans. The competition inspired 20 New Orleans chefs and bartenders to make one-of-a-kind creations including Samoa shrimp bisque, Thin Mint mocha panna cotta and a Rum Raisin cocktail.

Celebrity judges selected a winner in each of the three categories, with guests deciding on the People’s Choice Award. The winner in the appetizer category was chef Alan Ehrich, of the Audubon Tea Room, who made a smoked pork tenderloin with a Thin Mint chipotle and coffee rub over Israeli couscous with fresh mint, topped with a balsamic vinegar, apricot and Thin Mint reduction.

The winner in the dessert category was Erin Swanson, of Restaurant R’evolution, who presented a Thin Mint mocha panna cotta with beignets. The best cocktail was the Samoas coconut dream martini created by Brianna Trosclair, of Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar and Restaurant.

Other participants included Michael Tran, Besh Steak; chef John DelCorral and pastry chef Terrence Taylor, The Buffet at Harrah’s; chef Katy Tull, Café Reconcile; chef Austin Faucheaux, New Orleans School of Cooking; Shelly Marie Redmond, Skinny Louisiana; Victory; Krystal Archer, Bayou Beer Garden; chef Donald Julien and Justin Bupp, Warehouse Grille; Stephanie and Scott Mattox, El Guapo Bitters; Josh Bodenweiser, World of Beer; Ken Ritter, Audubon Tea Room; chef Brook Berry and chef Eileen Bennett, Culinary Kids Mandeville; and celebrity chef Terrance Osborne.

Chefs and bartenders who participated but did not compete included Marvin Allen and his Pelican Publishing Pixies, whose signature cocktail was the highlight of the patron party; Derek Lintern, of NOLA Brewery, with his Girl Stout beer; and Kristen Preau, of Cook Me Somethin’ Mister.

The emcee was Kenny Lopez, reporter at WGNO’s News with a Twist. Celebrity judges included Q-93’s DJ Slab; Voice of the Saints Jim Henderson; Deepak Saini, of WGNO’s News with a Twist; Tamica Lee, of WWL-TV; Liz Williams, with the Southern Food and Beverage Museum; Amy Kirk Duvoisin, with the French Market Corp.; children’s author and musician Johnette Downing; Demo Diva Simone Bruni Crouere; and the 610 Stompers. Event co-chairwomen were Stephanie Osborne and Dr. Allison Augustus-Wallace, and sponsors included Valero and Winn-Dixie.