Port Isabel Shrimp Cookoff; 24 Years of Food

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PORT ISABEL – An annual festival, a favorite among many residents and visitors, celebrated its 24th year of showcasing a variety of shrimp recipes created by amateur and professional chefs from around the Rio Grande Valley.

The Annual World’s Championship Shrimp Cook-Off was put together by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the heritage of the shrimping industry and the role it had played in the local economy, as well as cooking and eating shrimp.

“It’s an awesome event. It’s a lot of fun. Music, food, snacks. Everything you can think of and shrimp,” said Jeana, a festival attendee.

The spotlight at the celebration is on the small shrimp.

It’s different, but don’t be mistaken, the shrimp prepared at the festival is not the same shrimp many of us make at home.

“Senor Donkey shrimp is amazing. It’s made with tequila and it’s really sweet and tasty. Yummy!” said one woman.

“We have jalapeño shrimp. Hot and spicy,” mentioned one vendor.

“It’s tropical shrimp. It’s stuffed with a little cream cheese. A little crown meat. A little bell pepper, onion,” said another vendor.

All of these ingredients on a little shrimp?

“Locals and Winter Texans check out different areas and go try out good quality shrimp,” said Joe Vasquez with Pelican Station Restaurant.

Many more vendors and cooks had us try their recipes.

“We got a shrimp taco. It’s got cabbage. It’s got gulf shrimp. It’s got wine sauce,” said a vendor.

“Right here, it’s a delicious pineapple shrimp made with Malibu rum,” said another vendor.

Rum. Wine. My recipes must be outdated.

The road to Port Isabel will forever look different on the map.

“This is the first time we’ve had it on a Saturday. Historically it was on Sunday and we think it’s making a difference in our foot traffic,” said Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and President Betty Wells.

There’s music to entertain the public, all kinds of music.

The whole community is involved. You may even see a familiar face.

“I’m a judge. It’s a tough job, but I call and beg, please let me do it again,” said KRGV Meteorologist Tim Smith. “I think it’s terrific. It just shows that when the weather is good, things are good. Even when the weather is bad, the shrimp is still great.”

The recipes are different, but they do perk up your taste buds and shrimp chefs will return every year.

“We’ve been here every year,” said one of the cooks.

“Tenth year for me. Love it. Happy shrimp,” says another vendor.

It’s the Annual Championship Shrimp Cook-Off at Port Isabel.


7 Days