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Gourmet Royale wins Big Tex Choice Awards after losing matriarch of family

Norma Parish always made gumbo for her family. This year, she and her son created deep fried seafood gumbo balls for the State Fair of Texas before she passed away.

DALLAS — There are only a few more days to taste the 2021 Big Tex Choice Award winning foods. That includes the deep fried seafood gumbo balls, made by a family who has spent generations cooking for people at the State Fair of Texas.

The Parish family has been a part of the fair since 1985. Their concession stand is called Gourmet Royale and there are two locations throughout the fairgrounds. This year, their gumbo balls won two categories of "Best Taste Savory" and "Most Creative".

Greg Parish is a second generation concessionaire. He and his sister took over in 2017 after their dad passed away. But Greg soon lost his sister too.

This year, with the help of his mom, Norma Parish, the two kept the family tradition going. 

"Her main thing was presentation," Greg said. "She was a harsh critic. If it didn't taste right, she'd tell you." 

With Norma's homemade gumbo, Greg created the concept of deep fried seafood gumbo balls. Together as mother and son, they perfected the recipe and entered it in the Big Tex Choice Awards at the State Fair of Texas.

Then, Greg suddenly faced another loss in his family. Norma passed away shortly before the finalists were announced.

This year, every order at Gourmet Royale is in honor of his mother. As he sees customers smiling and eating her old gumbo recipe deep fried to perfection, Greg is reminded that his mom's recipe will continue to bring people together every year at the fair.