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Chef Tapia ready to dish out gumbo

Veteran chef Henry Tapia has a special ingredient for the 100-gallons of gumbo he will cook up for the 21st Annual Taste of Gumbo.

“Just love,” he said from the industrial kitchen at Christus Hospital St. Mary on Thursday.

The staff, he said, plays an important part in cooking up the combination chicken, sausage and seafood gumbo by adding a spice here and there until the concoction is to perfection.

The Taste of Gumbo, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Port Arthur, will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at its original location, the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center, 3401 Cultural Center Drive.

Participants can sample gumbo and other specialties from local restaurants and drinks and deserts will be available. Door prizes will be awarded throughout the event. A silent auction featuring many items including Frank Cricchio prints will be conducted during the Taste of Gumbo.

While the hospital has participated in the event for a number of years, this will be Tapia and Director of Food Services Walter Harrington’s, first time to participate.

“We are looking forward to participating in the Taste of Gumbo,” Harrington said, adding that the proceeds go for a good cause.

Proceeds from the event are given as grants to local charitable organizations through the Rotary Club of Port Arthur.

Tapia, Harrington and staff work to make sure their food is nutritious and tasty.

“There is a perception that when people come to the hospital, they expect lesser of their food. We really try to strive for optimum quality food and not only the food for the patients but our cafeteria as well,” Harrington said.

Tickets for the event are $8 and can be purchased from any member of the Port Arthur Rotary Club, by calling gumbo chairman Ike Akbari at 724-0020 or at the Port Arthur News office, 3501 Turtle Creek Drive.

Grant applications for local charitable organizations can be obtained at the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce.