On Wednesday Bonnie and Jim Parr are returning to where the fun began. The Parrs were known as the wedded team of “Fun Finders” selected by Rand McNally and USA Today to go in search of the town with the best food in the nation. At the end of July, they chose us.

Five other towns were in the running: Addison, WV; Burnsville, MN; Gulfport, FL; and both Visalia and Costa Mesa of CA. The Parrs set out in a donated car to spend time in each nominated city, taking about a month to both spend quality time and travel between all towns. There were five teams for the five categories of “Best of” including Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Friendliest and Most Fun as well as ours. The mission was to begin in New York City and meet up in Los Angeles where the teams would consult with a panel of travel experts, showing them their travel logs and journals, before deciding on the winners. At the end of July in New Orleans (a fortuitous coincidence?), the winners were announced and Lafayette was chosen.

The win is invaluable. It garners interest in Lafayette on both national and international levels, after being written up in USA Today and being mentioned on national news programs as well as having a special designation on this year,s Rand McNally maps both virtual and tangible. It puts us on the radar not just from tourism but from businesses.

Tomorrow the Parrs are being thanked for their fine choice with a private party at The Accidental Chef. According to USA Today’s interview with the Parrs, wife Bonnie said, “The Accidental Chef was absolutely wonderful. It was a social experience, and, after all, what would eating be without people?” The Parrs said the biggest surprise is that cooking in a Cajun fashion doesn’t mean spicing something until Hannah Barbera-esque steam comes from the ears but instead means full of flavor with lots of spices interplaying. The Parrs took a class on how to cook a roux with Chef Carlos Russo who owns The Accidental Chef, a recreational cooking school on Garfield Street in downtown Lafayette he owns with cousin and partner Janice “Boo” Macomber.

Check out The Accidental Chef here. If you want to read about the other nominees or winners in any of the five categories, go here.

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