Best Fish Dish?
Great American Seafood Cook-Off turns up the heat on 12 chefs
The cooking is so good in Louisiana that chefs come here to show off. This Saturday, August 8 will bring 12 of the nation’s finest to compete for the crown in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off.
Since 2004, the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board has brought chefs from around the country to New Orleans to compete in a live cooking event, showcasing the seafood that is native to their state. This year will bring chefs from Alaska to Maine, ready to demonstrate their skill and pride in sustainably raised and harvested local seafood.
Louisiana will be represented by chef Michael Brewer of The Sammich at 7708 Maple Street in New Orleans. Known for his high-end tastes wrapped in Leidenheimer’s bread, he will surely do the locals proud.
And locals know seafood.
“As a whole, the New Orleans Metro stores perform slightly better than the national average when it comes to seafood sales,” shared Ryan Boudreaux, seafood coordinator for the Whole Foods Market Southwest Region. “While these stores fall in line with the normal best-selling items, such as responsibly farmed Atlantic salmon, wild salmon and halibut, they experience much higher than average sales on Gulf species, specifically true American red snapper and black drum. Basically, anything local sells well.”
Chefs are judged by a panel of six folks in the food biz: Brooke Bell, editor of Taste of the South and editorial director of Louisiana Cookin’; Steve Green, founder and CEO of #Foodiechats; Anne E. McBride, culinary program and editorial director at The Culinary Institute of America; Barton Seaver, director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; chef Rick Tramonto, executive chef and founding partner of Tru in Chicago; and chef Wesley True, returning to the cook-off after winning second place in 2010.
The competitors have one hour to cook and will start in 15 minute increments, thus presenting their dishes 15 minutes apart to the judges. The completed plates will be judged on presentation, creativity, composition, correct preparation and craftsmanship, and the combination of flavor, taste, texture and doneness.
The cooking is all completed in front of the audience, making for a live show. There are three hosts to explain the chefs’ choices and entertain the crowd, including Johnny Ahysen of WAFB, chef Cory Bahr of Restaurant Cotton and Nonna Italian Restaurant, and Charles Divins of WDSU News This Morning.
And no New Orleans event would be complete without a parade and live music, this time provided by The Michael Foster Project.
“It is an honor for us to receive funding from NOAA in order to host this event that places domestic and gulf seafood in the spotlight,” says Karen Profita, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. “It is a chance to celebrate outstanding chefs, who by serving domestic seafood are giving their customers the most delicious and healthy product available while supporting an important American industry.”
The cook-off is dedicated to promoting sustainable and domestic fisheries and is produced in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Whole Foods Market, Southwest Cargo, Taste of the South and Tabasco.
Great American Seafood Cook-Off At-A-Glance:
Saturday, August 8; Doors open at 11:00 a.m., Opening Ceremony at 11:45 a.m., Closing Ceremony at 4:40 p.m.
Location: New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Tickets: $5 online in advance or $10 at the door