by Beth Burnsed, Jekyll Island Authority

istock_000006689593xsmallSince 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 and the festival Facebook fan page.

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