The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (LSPMB) presented the fourth annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on Aug. 4-5.
Select chefs from coast to coast showcased their art, the value of domestic seafood, and the simplicity of cooking seafood at home.
On Day 1 of the Cook-Off, the 19 chefs in the cook-off made all their own selections on ingredients and impressed the crowd with their mastery of the culinary arts using sustainable and domestic seafood.
At the beginning of Day 2, the six finalists were announced. These six finalists went on to compete for the title of King or Queen of American Seafood during Day 2 of the contest.
John Connelly, president of National Fisheries Institute and auditor for the event, called out the states: Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Massachusetts as the six finalists. He explained that the challenge for Day 2 was to cook a home-style dish for today's busy home cook in just 45 minutes.
On Day 2 Chefs had to use one or two ingredients, undisclosed until the contest began: corn flakes and/or a Michelob Light beer. Plus, besides seafood from their home states, they were instructed to choose their fresh and dry goods on site at the Whole Foods Market stand.
Georgia Chef James "Tim" Thomas said the tension for the chefs was in just not knowing who would make the top six and then what ingredients they would be working with. "I knew what I wanted to do, but so much was unknown."
Thomas selected a beer from a variety of Michelob Lights by Anheuser Busch with a fragrant profile that he believed would complement his wild Georgia shrimp ratatouille with boursin and cheese grits, and selected his fresh vegetables for stewing from Whole Foods Market.
Thomas must have been at the top of his game. The afternoon wound down and the judges, sitting at a home-like dining room table, completed their job. Bill Hogarth, assistant administrator of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Justin Timineri, the 2006 King, crowned Tim Thomas the 2007 King of American Seafood. Thomas said, "It was a wonderful experience. This is a wonderful town!"
Thomas said keeping it simple is critical to his cooking and he frequently cooks with the home chef in mind. He took third place at the 2006 Great American Seafood Cook-Off. He said, "I am very grateful to have been invited back again. I can't express my appreciation."
Thomas' dish the first day was Shrimp and hoe cakes, Georgia peach and Vidalia onion chutney, chipotle sour cream and cucumber salad.
Chef Tenney Flynn of Louisiana was awarded second place for his saut? American red snapper with melon and mango salad. Chef Michael Schlow of Massachusetts won third place for his Local Striped Bass, summer corn puree, chanterelles, pickled shallots and truffle emulsion.
The distinguished line up of judges included Bill Hogarth of NOAA; Julia Rutland, senior editor of Coastal Living Magazine; Donald Link, a James Beard winner and executive chef at Cochon Restaurant in Louisiana; and Justin Timineri, executive chef for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Chef John Besh of Restaurant August in Louisiana served as emcee of the event.
When asked what opening up the Cook-Off to a second day for the consumer did for the event, LSPMB Executive Director Ewell Smith said, "Bringing the event to the consumer level is the best thing we've ever done. Day 2 fully demonstrated how easy it can be to cook seafood."
The remaining visiting executive chefs also cooked home-style meals on Day 2 giving consumers at the event a chance to sample their many simple yet delicious dishes.
For chef bios and recipes, visit http://www.GreatAmericanSeafoodCookOff.com.
For more information, contact Sara-Ann Harris 504-283-8292 or SaraAnn@LouisianaSeafood.com.