Food Network visits Port Isabel to film cooking event

PORT ISABEL — “Bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp with jalapeño and cream cheese,” announced Jordan Nall.

She was introducing a new recipe from Señor Donkey on South Padre Island, where she works as a hostess. The new shrimp recipe included tamarind sauce with tequila, chipotle and mango.

The restaurant sent one of 15 teams to compete in the 24th annual World’s Championship Shrimp Cook-Off held Saturday at Sutherland’s Express hardware store in Port Isabel.

Attendees were especially excited by the presence of three film crews that were creating a segment for Food Network. The crew from Pink Sneakers Productions had been hired to produce the segment for the popular network.

This was a first for the event, said Betty Wells, director of the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce, which presented the festival.

“We were excited when they called and said they wanted to do a show for the Food Network,” Wells said.

Everyone else seemed excited, too. Visitors packed the parking lot, sampling shrimp recipes from Dirty Al’s, Señor Donkey, H-E-B and other businesses. They had journeyed from all parts of the Rio GrandeValley.

Camera crews busily filmed the preparation and tasting of various culinary concoctions.

“Raise it up,” a cameraman said to Casey Barfield, manager of White Sands Restaurant and Bar.

She and other employees of the Port Isabel restaurant were serving samples of two shrimp prepared with cream cheese, jalapeño and bacon. A toothpick held them together over a rice pilaf.

She smiled as the cameraman from Pink Sneakers Productions took closeup footage of the tantalizing dish, excited by the idea she and the restaurant might appear on Food Network.