USM Community Savors New Orleans Flavor at WMPG’s Cajun Cookin’ Challenge

WMPG-FM 90.9 logo: Celebrating 50 Years - Radio From USM

University of Southern Maine students, staff, and faculty enjoyed a tantalizing smorgasbord of Crescent City cooking and New Orleans-style music on Fat Tuesday, courtesy of the University of Southern Maine’s community radio station, WMPG.

Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, marks the last day of indulgence before the Christian fasting period of Lent begins the following day, on Ash Wednesday. Around the world, Fat Tuesday has become legendary for its revelry, which includes parties, parades, dancing, and other festivities. But wherever it’s celebrated, the food takes center stage, as celebrants enjoy a last taste of many of things that are traditionally given up for Lent.

“We are excited to bring back the Cajun Cookin’ Challenge for another year of culinary delight and community celebration,” Annella Linton, Development Director at WMPG, said. “This event has become a cherished tradition in our community, and we can’t wait to see everyone come together to enjoy great food, music, and company.”

This year’s event more than lived up to the hype. A Who’s Who of neighborhood restaurants and caterers, including Bayside American Cafė, Soul Food Paradise, Maggie Mae’s, Po’ Boys & Pickles, Ruski’s, Sodexo, and the Southern Maine Community College Culinary Arts program, each brought their own take on New Orleans flavor to the McGoldrick Center for Career & Student Success, and by noon the entire second floor was redolent with mouth-watering aromas of Cajun cooking.

Students, staff, and faculty moved from table to table sampling dishes that included, among other offerings, spicy gumbo, zesty jambalaya and muffaletta sandwiches, voting for their favorites while WMPG talent provided a savory soundtrack of New Orleans tunes to set the mood. By the end of the day, nearly all the food had been eaten, and the Bayside American Cafė walked off with this year’s crown, thanks to their delectable take on the traditional Biscuits and Gravy.

WMPG is a non-commercial, educational FCC-licensed radio station owned by the University of Maine System, and is the premier community radio station of southern Maine. Located on the USM campus in Portland, Maine, WMPG broadcasts locally on 90.9FM. It also streams on, and on the WMPG app. WMPG celebrates 50 years of broadcasting this year.