'Why We Do This': Papa George Fairchild Jambalaya Cook-off

Andrew Green
“Papa” George Fairchild, “Jambalaya King”.

St. Gabriel Catholic Church has been the site of the annual Papa George Fairchild Jambalaya Cook-off since its inception in 2007.  The event hosts dozens of area jambalaya experts in a cooking contest to raise money benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The event evolved from a bike-a-thon put on in the St. Gabriel Community every year that benefitted St. Jude Hospital, and when Theresa Roy was asked to take over she could not say no.  An event that benefitted children, like her niece Lauren White, that receive treatment from St. Jude was an honor for her to organize.  Roy quickly went to work on the bike-a-thon.  She put up fliers, sent letters to schools, churches, etc.

“That year we raised 64 dollars,” Roy said.  “I was so upset, thinking I did everything I could.  There would have to be a better way to raise money for such a wonderful place.

“So with a little brainstorming with the Knights of Columbus, a men’s group from St. Gabriel Catholic Church, we came up with a jambalaya cook-off.”

They figured what better event could you do than a jambalaya cook-off after living so close to Gonzales, Louisiana, the “Jambalaya Capital of the World”.

“And what better person to name it after than George Fairchild, the first Jambalaya Champion of the world famous Jambalaya Festival held in 1968,” Roy said.

“Papa” George Fairchild was born and raised in St. Gabriel and is considered the “Jambalaya King” to locals.

In its first year, 42 cooks gathered in 2007 for the first annual Papa George Fairchild Jambalaya Cook-off.  The event raised $11,743.52.  Currently, the event has raised over $104,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with an average of 60 cooks per year.

The event sells jambalaya at five dollars a plate, locals bake delicious sweets, and items are donated and raffled off at one dollar a ticket.

This year’s event will be held Sunday, September 11 2016.  The cook-off will begin at 6 a.m. and pots must be finished by 10:30 a.m. and all jambalaya must be cooked over a wood fire.  Judging will consist of best in color, meat texture, overall taste, flavor and rice texture.

If you are interested in cooking this year’s event, register online at  Attendants are welcome to bring the family, lawn chairs and find a spot under the beautiful oak trees on the St. Gabriel Catholic Church grounds.

If you would like to donate items, cook, provide sweets or just lend a helping hand, contact Knights of Columbus 3796 Grand Knight Wayne Roy at 716-3370 or Theresa Roy 939-6369 or 642-9724.

“Your participation is this event is vitally important,” Roy said.  “The money raised will help fund the life-saving research and treatment at St. Jude Research Hospital.  Please know you can make a difference in lives of children battling cancer and other catastrophic diseases.  You have the power to save lives!”