MARK-di Gras a huge hit in Roxbury

Roxbury — The MARK Project brought the heat of bayou to Roxbury last Saturday night for a sold out Mardi Gras celebration complete with the dynamite Zydeco sounds of Lil’Anne and Hot Cayenne, a Cajun/Creole cook-off and all the unparalleled fun of Bourbon Street. The event raised over $5,000 for MARK projects and programs while offering an unbounded atmosphere to let the good times roll. “This was designed more as a community gathering than a fund-raiser” said Executive Director Peg Ellsworth “It was heartwarming to see a packed house and diverse audience especially in these challenging times.”

The event also incorporated the opportunity for area residents to participate in a Cajun/Creole cook-off in which entries were judged and auctioned off to the audience. Seventeen different various culinary delights were entered in the auction. “Thank goodness the MARK Group provided us with crackers and some other palate cleansers to use between tastings. My taste buds were overloaded with an explosion of flavors from one dish to the next.” says Roxbury Motel owner and cook-off judge Greg Henderson. Henderson adds, “I think the group of people who entered the contest should pool their resources and open a Cajun restaurant in Roxbury. I would send all my guests from the hotel there in a flash.”

The dishes were presented to the judges anonymously as they spent over an hour tasting, talking, re-tasting and deliberating. Competition was stiff but the three dishes that came out on top were Julie Ford’s Cajun Shrimp taking third, Mike Cognitore’s Andouille Maquechoux and Crawfish Cous Cous placing second and Rich Ellsworth’s Duck, Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo with Duck Cracklin’s coming out on top. Ellsworth didn’t have the opportunity to accept the prize money as his wife mandated he donate it back to the organization—but he did accept the “braggin rights.” Bonnie Walker took first place in the dessert category for her New Orleans Bread Pudding and the auction of the dishes brought in $2,800 in much needed funds for projects and programs within the MARK service area.

“The dance floor was jammed all night and the mood was great,” said Ellsworth. “I am so grateful for the participation of everyone who came, the volunteers, sponsors, and the MARK staff and board. I can’t help but look forward to an even better event next year!”