Miss USA 2015 contestants talk Baton Rouge food

Katie George, Miss Kentucky USA 2015; Gretchen Reece, Miss Indiana USA 2015; Leah Blefko, Miss Arkansas USA 2015; and Polikseni Manxhari, Miss Massachusetts USA 2015; during a Louisiana Seafood Celebration at the Houmas House Plantation and Garden Sunday, July 5. Photo by Patrick Prather, courtesy of the Miss Universe organization

The Miss USA pageant is rolling on through the Red Stick, and the 2015 contestants are getting a taste of some of Baton Rouge’s finest cuisine while in town.

So far, contestants have made stops at Ruffino’s, Mestizo, City Pork Brasserie and Bar and Sullivan’s Steakhouse. They have also enjoyed seafood provided by the Louisiana Seafood Board at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens.

The contestants will be in town up until the Miss USA pageant, which takes place at the River Center Sunday, July 12 at 7 p.m. and will on air on Reelz. They’ll likely get to try many more local restaurants before then.

225 Dine asked a few of the contestants about their culinary experiences in the Capital City. Here’s what Miss South Carolina Sarah Weishuhn, Miss North Carolina Julia Dalton and Miss New Jersey Vanessa Oriolo had to say about the city’s food.

On Baton Rouge’s culinary scene: 
Miss South Carolina: “It has been exceptional. There hasn’t been a single thing I haven’t fallen in love with. I’m from Charleston, and we’re proud of our food. But it’s been so amazing here.”
Miss New Jersey: “Growing up, my family has owned restaurants, and it’s been a part of my life for so long that I consider myself to be a food critic. I haven’t tasted anything I haven’t loved. We look forward to every single meal that we have.”

What they have experienced:
Miss South Carolina
: “We’ve gotten to taste a little of everything. We’ve had crawfish, fried alligator, shrimp and grits, white chocolate bread pudding … There has been a big variety of food.”
Miss North Carolina: “Within those dishes, we’ve had some with a Mexican twist, some with Cajun seasoning. Lots of varieties of flavors incorporated into the same types of foods.”
Miss New Jersey: “We definitely realize now what is popular in the South. We will be missing it when we have to leave. We weren’t aware of the pride that Louisiana people take in their food and how much they love eating.”

Favorite dish so far?
Miss South Carolina: “Oysters. Back home, we have our fair share of seafood. I had them on a cracker, with hot sauce, with different toppings … I must have had a half a pound by myself.”
Miss North Carolina: “I had crawfish for the first time. I had someone show me how to peel them. That was really cool. I enjoyed it.”
Miss New Jersey: “I was pleasantly surprised by the shrimp and grits. It was my first time eating it, and I enjoyed the pairing.”

Any surprises?
Miss New Jersey: “Bread pudding is so popular. We have had it at every single restaurant. We are learning to love it.” (Writer’s note: Seriously? Me too.)

The desserts have been great, too:
Miss South Carolina: “My favorite dessert was at Sullivan’s. They had this S’mores cake with a graham cracker crust. It was hard to put my spoon down.”


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