Highlights from the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival – Eating America
From Pirate Port to Fishing Harbor
Amelia Island used to be known as a pirate port, but today it's famous for its shrimp, producing 4 million pounds every year. The island celebrates the abundance with its annual shrimp festival. More than 100,000 festivalgoers — including some modern-day pirates — have turned out to try the island's offerings.
Queen of the Festival
Anthony poses with Graham Jewell, earlier crowned Miss Shrimp Festival 2014. Her duties include serving as a judge for the festival's cooking competition. This year eight out of the 26 food vendors have entered with hopes of leaving with the top award, and Anthony's ready to try them all.
The Search for the Star of the Show
Anthony meets with the judges to learn what they're looking for in the perfect shrimp dish. Pirate Steve Hair, Miss Shrimp Festival 2014 Graham, and Pajama Dave will be taking into account flavor, freshness, presentation and creativity. "We're looking for everything — I'm looking to eat," says Dave.
The Secret Recipe
Captain Scott Steward shows Anthony his country boil with shrimp, corn, sausage and potatoes: "I took the ingredients out of both the low country boil and the shrimp boil out of New Orleans," he says. Scott's spice blend is secret, but he's willing to divulge a tip: Leaving the shells on keeps the shrimp from overcooking.
The Big Cheese to Beat All Small Fries
Brothers Brian and Scott Stevens, festival veterans for the past 24 years, believe their shrimp pie has what it takes to win. "This is the only time and the only place in the world where you can get the original shrimp pie," says Brian. The family recipe includes four cheeses, spinach, mangoes and shrimp.
Marching to a Different Beat
Dolores Swisher (center) and her daughter Elise are entering the contest for the first time with their shrimp salad sandwich, and they are here to raise funds for the Yulee High School Marching Band. Anthony tucks in for a taste: "Incredible," he says. "These flavors have melded together and soaked into the shrimp."
A Giant Pot at the End of the Dock
Anthony joins up with Rick Stiles (center) and Pirate Steve to cook an old-fashioned shrimp boil to feed the crowd. They're cooking 70 pounds of freshly caught shrimp, which are added to the pot last. And how to tell when it's finished cooking? "The shrimp turns pink and it's done," says Steve.
Feeding a Hungry Crowd
Rick pours the shrimp into a long, shallow bin so it cools quickly and doesn't continue cooking. It's now ready to be served to the hundred or so people waiting aboard the ship. Meanwhile the cooking competition is well underway, and the judges are ready to try the entrants' dishes.
Tasting, Testing and Tabulating
Graham, Dave and Steve have tasted all eight entries into the cooking competition and mark their findings on scorecards. The results will be announced later in the day, with award titles including Delectable Dish, Prawn Presentation, Creative Crustaceans and the top prize, Commander in Chef.
Winning the Commander-in-Chef Award
This year's big winners are none other than Brian and Scott Stevens, who were here to raise funds for the Vietnam Veterans of Nassau County and competing in memory of their father. "We're going to carry on the tradition that he always kept alive," says Scott of their family's 25th year coming to the festival.
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