Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans.

Bean Madness: Who cooks the best red beans and rice in New Orleans?

Even though Louisiana Eats! creator Poppy Tooker claims that “In New Orleans, you come out of the womb instinctively knowing how to cook red beans and rice,” we native New Orleanians know that no two red beans and rice recipes are alike. In fact, red beans and rice recipes are a constant source of discussion amongst local cooks.

Red beans and rice are ubiquitous in New Orleans households and restaurants, and everyone has a difference recipe. But which restaurant makes the absolute best?


Bean Madness taste test map (click to enlarge).

The “Bean Madness / Final Fork” competition aims to find out by inviting a wide variety of New Orleans restaurants to showcase their recipes. The public will then vote for the best of the bunch via a series of  head-to-head blind taste tests.  

Devin DeWulf, the originator of the Red Beans Parade, organized the “Final Four”-style competition. Sixty-four New Orleans restaurants and chefs have signed up to compete in a month-long, single-elimination tournament that also will raise money for two local non-profits: Anna’s Place and Make Music NOLA. The tournament will be sponsored by Camellia Brand beans.

The public will also have the opportunity to make their predictions—and a donation—through brackets that will be available at (see below),  the competition’s website, and in paper form beginning on Thursday, March 2. Brackets will be due by Thursday, March 9, so make sure to get your predictions in on time.

Additionally, the person who is most accurate with their predictions will win a variety of prizes—including T-shirts, a free red bean tattoo, an original piece of “bean art” made by the members of the Red Beans Parade, and a prize package from Camellia Brand beans.

“We’re excited to create an only-in-New-Orleans event, and thrilled to use our parade group to give back to two local non-profits we admire,” says DeWulf. “More importantly, we also really want to know which restaurant in town can legitimately claim the best red beans and rice.”

The “Bean Madness” tournament will feature numerous blind taste tests at corner bars, book stores, groceries and markets (see the map above and in our print issue). The experts on the matter—the people of New Orleans—will judge the red beans, and ultimately crown a champion. The “Final Fork,” with the the final four competitors, will be held at the end of March. The championship will be held at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum on Sunday, April 2, 2017. 

A full tournament schedule can be found here.

Fill out your Bean Madness bracket here: