Tastiest Town food fête finale

by Anna Purdy

In what was perhaps the most ill kept secret of the last month, last night confirmed that Lafayette won the Southern Living Tastiest Town 2012 award. Showing that the folks at Southern Living truly "get" us the press conference annoucing our win was wedged in the middle of a party at Acadiana Center for the Arts' James D. Moncus Theater.

Gerald Breaux of the Lafayette Conventions and Visitors Center, City Parish President Joey Durel both spoke briefly about this honor visited upon Hub City. Durel noted that this week Lafayette came in second in this poll about the most optimistic cities in America. He also noted that as we reported back in October Lafayette has the sixth fastest growing middle class in the country and lots of cheers were had when it was pointed out that the small city we live in is just basically way awesome.

When the tallies were said and done Lafayette came in the winner with nearly 195,000 votes. For a city of roughly 221,000 that's pretty awesome odds. Our main competitor of Louisville came in with nearly 160,000. "Votes came in from Ohio, from Corpus Christie and all around the country including a lot from North Louisiana," said Durel.

The Hub City's sister-from-another-mister, New Orleans, came in at 60,000 votes. This means two Louisiana cities came in the top 5 of this contest - not too shabby, folks.

Next to speak was was Chicago native and Southern Living publisher Greg Schumann. Schumann was named as the publisher by Time Inc. last year. He made the jovial comment that considering we are one of the most optimistic cities and that our economy is booming plus all this great food now publicly known, "it's no wonder your so enthusiastic." He cited our final voting number and just how passionate we are about our culture, both in sharing and preserving it.

Southern Living's senior editor Paula Disbrowe was next to speak. She is the writer who'd explored Louisiana on the sly months ago after the publications knew we'd won and no one else did. "It's a unique culture heritage," said Disbrowe, and went on to mention as Schumann did how devoted we are to our way of life. When she wrote about Lafayette for the April issue she mentioned The French Press, Meche's, Bayou Teche Brewing, Johnson Boucaniere and Cochon Lafayette.

Speaking of Cochon, Donald Link was in attendance last night. He was also pictured with John Besh for the New Orleans writeup.

Durel closed out the night by handing both Disbrowe and Schumann certificates denoting they are "Honorary Cajuns."

During the event which ran through the traditional early evening cocktails hours the Cajun band played. Prejean's served some amazing food including its sumptuous bisque and Sophi P. Cakes offered up four types of cupcakes, the crowd favorite being a sweet potato cupcake with cracklins on top.

We would like to take a minute and thank the rest of the cities nominated for the Tastiest Town 2012. While all are worthy opponents we'd especially like to thank the people, restaurants, cooks and chefs of Louisville, Ky. We know it got heated there, especially for that last week of voting, and know that as much as we are happy we won we're just as curious to make a visit and see what all y'all are about. And please come see us as well.

As for the eateries, bakeries, cafes, bistros, plate lunch places and restaurants in Lafayette as well as around Acadiana - thank you. Each and every one of you endure kitchens that are commonly 90 degrees and higher with cuts and burns on your hands and come up with the most savory and exquisite food for us plebians to enjoy. From $5 lunches to the finest white linen joints, all of you made this award happen, and while our waistlines may occasionally resent you it's only temporary - we are proud and we are grateful.

Final thanks to the folks at Southern Living. We're glad y'all found us out.