The Hangout Oyster Cook Off Review
About the only thing better than being at the beach is being at the beach for a food festival. My family has been coming down to the Orange Beach area on The Gulf for years now. This year our vacation lined up for me to attend the 12th annual Oyster Cook-off and Craft Spirits & Beer Weekend. It’s held at The Hangout in Gulf Shores, Alabama the first weekend of November.
The temperature was a perfect 65° with a cool breeze coming off of The Gulf. Anything that doesn’t end up with me sweating buckets, which typically happens all the time, is a win in my book. The atmosphere was really low-key and laid back for a food festival. Even the Chefs seemed more relaxed. I mean with this setting, how could you not be?
I took the approach for this festival of watching more demos versus the usual focus of me just eating my way through everything. My highlights were the opportunity to watch Justin Warner and Aarti Sequeira in action. Michael Symon and host Martie Duncan also attended as well as many other recognizable celebrity Chefs.
There was an amazing dinner experience that I hated to miss, “The Pitmaster and Pappy” featuring world-class BBQ paired with rare bourbons and wine. The exclusive chef dinner was hosted by world BBQ champion Chris Lilly and Masterchef’s Aaron Sanchez. This will be on my list in the future. Friday is more of the craft beer portion of the weekend, with Saturday being the highlight for the oysters.
The festival is centered around oysters with the opportunity to sample oysters from different regions across the United States from farmers & growers ranging from Rhode Island and North Carolina to Alabama and Washington state. Restaurants competed in the Raw, Cajun and Rockefeller categories. Don't miss the shucking competition either. Over 10,000 people attended the festival this year and they serve 100,000 oysters in one day. Shuck, that’s a lot of oysters.
Outside of the cooking stage and demo stage, there was lots of great, live music, a Bloody Mary competition, Champagne lounge, a tailgating experience, and a silent auction.
This is a great festival with a picturesque setting. If you’re a fan of oysters and seafood then this is one festival that you cannot miss.