Fall marks the start of gumbo season. And with that, it’s time to celebrate National Gumbo Day on Thursday, Oct. 12.
Yes, that’s a thing. We know that naming Baton Rouge’s best gumbo would really stir the pot—if we could even choose just one—because the best bowl of gumbo is a topic as polarizing as politics for some of us.
So, we left it up to 225 readers, who voted Dempsey’s for Best Gumbo in the 2017 Best of 225 Awards. With that cue, we talked to the staff at Dempsey’s to learn what makes their gumbo a crowd pleaser.
Dempsey’s serves seafood and chicken and andouille gumbos by the cup, bowl and a 24-ounce jumbo size. Though the restaurant started out as a po-boy shop, its gumbos have become just as popular in the two decades of business. The gumbo recipes, from founder and owner George Gugich, haven’t changed over the years. And that consistency keeps customers coming back.
Chef Jose Rodriguez cooks up to 36 gallons of both gumbos each day. “The secret is to make good roux,” he says. “That makes the best gumbo.”
He begins each batch of gumbo with a dark roux, made from scratch with flour and oil. Making the roux requires about 45 minutes of stirring. Once the color is right, Rodriguez adds onion, celery and okra and lets it cook down.
After adding crabmeat and baby shrimp or chicken and sausage, the gumbo only needs seasoning. The Dempsey’s chef finishes off with black pepper and cayenne pepper sprinkled to perfection—it’s not too mild or too spicy.
House-made roux and fresh, local ingredients like Louisiana seafood set Dempsey’s gumbo apart from the rest, says Josh Armand, part-owner and manager.
“We put a lot of love in it,” Armand says. “We take our time with it, and we keep it simplified.”
Dempsey’s has locations on Coursey Boulevard in Baton Rouge and on Airline Highway in Prairieville.