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Leesburg native wins gumbo contest

LEESBURG — One of Leesburg’s own recently snatched the crown from veteran Florida gumbo cooks at the 16th annual Mexico Beach, FL Gumbo Cookoff held Feb. 15.

Melinda Hicks, in her very first gumbo competition, bested 25 amateur chefs by creating a pot of gumbo that was unanimously voted as the crowd favorite. A panel judged the gumbo on flavor, consistency, and presentation.

Hicks has spent more than 10 years tweaking and perfecting her gumbo recipe. According to Hicks, “The most important ingredient in a great pot of gumbo is the roux. If you don’t get the roux right, you’re wasting your time.”

Hicks has worked at Phoebe Putney Hospital for 17 years, and currently works in the respiratory department. She is contemplating entering her next gumbo competition on April 12th in Mobile, AL.