Heard’s BBQ finalist in Bama’s Best Catfish Challenge

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, July 11, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Heard’s BBQ and Soul Food in Maplesville is getting high praise again, but this time it’s for fried catfish.

The local eatery, which won People’s Choice in Bama’s Best Pork Ribs, has been named a finalist in Alabama Farmers Federation’s Bama’s Best Catfish Restaurant Challenge.

Owners Roman and Shakira Heard found out about being nominated about a month ago.

“I was excited for him, just knowing where he started and where God has brought us now,” Shakira said.

Votes for each of the 61 nominated restaurants determined the finalists. Roman said he posted about the contest on the Heard’s BBQ Facebook page, asking people to pick their favorite catfish restaurant, regardless of who it was.

Roman was excited about the nomination, but was surprised when he found out Heard’s was a finalist.

Judges will come out for a tasting on July 27. After visiting each of the finalists, the judges will select the winner of this annual contest. Roman said he will “keep doing what we have been doing” to impress the judges.

“To me, it’s real eye opening just to know that people love what we are doing … In the only two (we) have been nominated in to be a finalist (in each), it’s kind of mindboggling,” Roman said.

The fried catfish recipe and breading was developed using Roman’s method of continually tweaking seasonings until it tastes just right.

“I just experiment with it at home and whatever she (Shakira) likes, whatever the kids like that’s what we go with,” Roman said.

Shakira said she loves seafood.

Fried catfish is a Friday special at Heard’s, but Roman said it might be offered more now that its popularity is gaining attention.

Bama’s Best Catfish Restaurant Challenge is sponsored by Alabama Catfish Producers. Roman said Harvest Select farm-raised catfish has been the best variety he has used.

Shakira said a number of people have come to Heard’s BBQ since the rib competition.

“We have met a lot of new people,” Shakira said.

These new customers have come from as close as Clanton and as far away as Cullman.

Roman said one visitor said they were visiting all of the Bama’s Best Pork Ribs finalists.