Jeremy Alford

Seafood cookoff set for Saturday

by Jeremy Alford

Accomplished chefs from throughout the United States are gathering in New Orleans this evening for the 2009 Great American Seafood Cook-Off, which you may have seen in the past on Food Network. Tonight, it's all about good times and the competing chefs will be treated like royalty and chauffeured around by the NOPD to the Big Easy’s finest eateries.

But tomorrow, it’ll be competition time. The event is sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, which has featured both up-and-coming and celebrity chefs over the years like John Besh. The event underscores the importance of cooking with domestic seafood and encourages the use of products from sustainable fisheries.

To date, 15 states have registered chefs including Alabama, California, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Rhode Island and West Virginia.  Louisiana will be represented by Chef Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace.

Sig Hansen, the commercial fishing captain who stars in the popular documentary television show “Deadliest Catch,” and Chef John Folse, who is often recognized as Louisiana's Culinary Ambassador to the World, will co-host the 2009 Great American Seafood Cook Off.

It will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during the Louisiana Foodservice Expo. Open to the public, the event asks attendees to make a $5 to $10 donation at the door. The Cook Off will begin at noon and conclude at 4 p.m.

Prior winners of the Great American Seafood Cook Off include John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Miss., Tim Thomas of the Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga., Justin Timineri, executive chef for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Randy Evans of Brennan's of Houston, and John Besh of Restaurant August in New Orleans.