by Beth Burnsed, Jekyll Island Authority
Since the inception of the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits: Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival in 2006, Joe Barnett, Jr. has participated and won in every Shrimp & Grits Cooking Competition. His winning streak and jovial personality caught the attention of Food Network. On March 18 at 9:00 PM the amateur chef will go up against world-renowned chef Bobby Flay on Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay.”
Taped in Joe Barnett’s hometown of Washington, GA, the show features Joe Barnett cooking his version of shrimp & grits against Bobby Flay’s version. Both chefs use locally caught wild Georgia shrimp provided by the Georgia Shrimp Association, a partner in the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits annual festival. Their dishes are judged by local fans and shrimp & grits connoisseurs. The one-on-one competition was a complete surprise to Barnett. In each “Throwdown” episode, the amateur cook thinks Food Network is shooting their profile for a show. What they don’t know is that Food Network star Bobby Flay is going to drop in for a surprise visit and challenge them to an unexpected cook-off.
“I was shocked when Bobby Flay walked onto the set,” said Barnett. “Of course, I’m always up for a cook-off and was proud to represent the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival and the Georgia Shrimp Association.”
The annual Shrimp & Grits: Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival is held each year on Jekyll Island in September. This year’s event is scheduled for September 18-20 and will include cooking competitions, celebrity book signing, cooking demonstrations, shrimp boat tours and excursions and much more. More details can be found at jekyllisland.com and the festival Facebook fan page.