New Orleans Restaurant Owners $10,000 Richer After Taking Home Top Prize In Food Network Contest

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The family behind one of New Orleans’ most popular seafood restaurants is ten grand richer after taking the top spot on Food Network’s latest culinary competition “Family Restaurant Rival.”

The owners of Barrow’s Catfish were recently crowned the winners of the brand-new series, which saw three restaurant-industry families face off in a cutthroat culinary showdown. The grand prize was a cool $10,000, national exposure and bragging rights, of course. 

Barrow's Catfish
The Johnson family, who’s behind New Orleans’ famous Barrow’s Catfish restaurant, won $10,000 after coming out on top in a new Food Network competition series. (Photo: WGNO / video screenshot)

Third-generation restaurant owners Deirdre Barrow Johnson, along with husband Kenneth Johnson Jr. and their daughter, Destyn Johnson cooked the competition with their re-imagining of the restaurant’s signature fried catfish, but in taco form, The Advocate reported. Things got dicey, however, when the team was tasked with creating a three-course dinner based solely on vanilla ice cream.

What resulted was more than delicious; it won them the competition.

The Johnsons prevailed with a crabcake appetizer served with an ice cream sauce and a ice cream-flavored creole chicken breast and asparagus for the main course. As for dessert, the family whipped up a rum milkshake with almonds and bananas.

“Now everybody’s calling, because they want a milkshake!” Diedre Johnson told the newspaper, chuckling.

Launched in 1943, the family’s restaurant was originally called Barrow’s Shady Inn and made a name for itself by serving up mouthwatering plates of fried catfish and sandwiches out of its back door. The eatery was a long-time staple in the city’s Hollygrove neighborhood until Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, causing mass devastation.

The restaurant, which is one of the longest-running black businesses in the City of New Orleans, reopened in July 2018 and it’s been thriving ever since, according its website. Regulars stop in to enjoy a variety of seafood dishes,  as well as pastas and desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth.

With a Food Network win now under their belt, the Johnsons said they’ve been busier than ever, as the customers just keep coming.

Deirdre recalled the excitement she felt when it was time to fly out to Los Angeles to shoot the show last May. It wasn’t always peachy keen, however, and she said the trio was hit with a few curveballs during the competition.

“We didn’t know anything before the start, and it wasn’t a walk in the park at all,” she told the Advocate, later adding, “Just to be there was a great opportunity.”

Since their TV triumph, Deirdre said they’ve increased Barrow’s hours to include Sundays from 12 p.m to 6 p.m after seeing an uptick in business. Even before the show, the family said it had plans of expanding to other locations on the West Bank, and possibly out of state.

“The family’s recipe and legacy has been carried in the hearts of its founders and heirs for 75 years and 4 generations,” the restaurant’s website reads. “And it’s our hope and intention that it will for many more to come.”

Watch more in the clip below. 

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