More Than A Thousand People Turn Out for Chefs of the Coast

There was a little something for everyone's palate at Chefs of the Coast Sunday night.

The annual event is usually held at the Coast Coliseum. This year it was moved to the Harrison County Fairgrounds.

Although the venue changed, the food and spirits, were as good as ever.

"I've been coming to this since I was a baby, since I was able to get in. My dad made me come here every year because we supported the seafood business and restaurants and hotels and everything on the coastl," said Sean Desporte.

Desporte's and Sons Seafood Market has served up shrimp for many years at Chefs of the Coast. The event has become a family tradition.

But this year there's an empty seat at their table. Junie Desporte passed away from cancer early this year.

"It's a big loss without him here. He was a big part of the seafood industry, and we are very grateful that this year the chefs decided to honor my father and grandfather. It's bittersweet, but we're very honored," said his daughter Angel Harrelson.

Junie's family said he loved the annual showcase of the coast's best food and wine.

"It kind of started off mild. We had the seafood. We socialized, and as the night went on, he usually ended up on the stage, singing, dancing, lighting cigars for the folks around the place," Harrelson said.

That same spirit lives on. More than a thousand people lined up for food and drinks from 25 local restaurants, 11 wine brokers and three beer distributors.

Some went to great extremes for good food, while others burned it off as quickly as they ate it.

"They are providing some of the best food that you can have, and it's here, and it's yours, and it's a one price deal, and when you get in, not only do you have all this free food and cocktails, but you have the food as art," said Brooke Lewis, Chefs of the Coast Chairman.

This is the event's 25th year. It is put on by the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Mississipppi Hosptiality and Restaurant Association.

A portion of the proceeds will be used for scholarships for local culinary programs.