Chefs Teams Selected for 7th Annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off

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Chefs from Auburn’s The Depot, The Hound to Compete

Contributed to The Observer

GULF SHORES — Representatives for Alabama Gulf Seafood announced today that judges for the upcoming 7th Annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off (ASCO) — set for Monday, May 16, at The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores — have selected the top four Alabama chef teams who will compete onsite for the state title. 

Chefs and their accompanying teams set to face off later this month are Chef Sam Adams (small batch, Birmingham), Chef Robbie Nicolaisen (The Hound, Auburn), Chef Morgan McWaters (The Depot, Auburn) and Chef Jeffrey Compton (The Battery, Birmingham). 

Each chef will compete for the coveted title and a $2,500 prize and will go on to represent the state of Alabama this summer in the 18th Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO) in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

“We received a uniquely high number of quality submissions from across the state this year, so the competition — and thus selecting just four recipes — was especially tough,” said Chef Jim Smith, chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission and 2011 winner of both the Alabama Seafood Cook-Off and GASCO. “I am pleased with the caliber of our panel selections and look forward to an amazing event later this month.” 

The selection process required chefs from across the state to submit a recipe that included an Alabama Gulf Seafood product as the featured ingredient. An expert panel of judges reviewed each chef’s recipe and selected their top four based on creativity, composition, harmony of ingredients and more. 

Chef teams and recipes for May 16 are as follows:

Head Chef Adams and Assistant Chef Liz Brody — Seafood Tamal: Alabama Gulf Crab, Black Garlic Masa, Shrimp Stock, Fermented Corn Puree, Shrimp Pico de Gallo, Oyster Emulsion, Candied Habenero and Local Radishes

Head Chef Nicolaisen and Assistant Chef Fernando Justiniano — Binchotan Grilled Cobia: Alabama Gulf Cobia, Chubby Belly XO Glaze, Crab Fat Rice Middlins, Green Tomato Dashi, Nuoc Cham Braised Cabbage, Collard Green Togarashi

Head Chef McWaters and Assistant Chef Blaze Farrell — Fried Green Snapper: Alabama Gulf Snapper, Spicy Creamed Corn, Jumbo Crab, Granny Smith Apple, Red Cabbage Slaw, Alabama White Sauce

Head Chef Compton and Assistant Chef Kyle Kirkpatrick — Butter Poached Redfish: Alabama Gulf Redfish, New Potato Blue Crab Salad, Late Spring Vegetables, Lemon Aioli, Garden Herbs

Launched by the Commission in May 2012, the Alabama Gulf Seafood brand is officially celebrating its 10th anniversary of seafood industry efforts across the state. In honor of this moment in time, the ASMC is, for the first time, presenting the winner a monetary prize.

“The Alabama Gulf Seafood brand is something that all of us as Alabamians can be proud of and stand behind, and we are honored to provide our winning team with a cash prize to celebrate 10 years since campaign launch,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and program administrator of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission.

“We are so pleased to have had such an overwhelming response for submissions from across the state and cannot wait to see the four selected chef teams compete — all while continuing to bring awareness to Alabama’s vast seafood industry,” he added. 

The Cook-Off will again be held at The Lodge at Gulf State Park. Chefs will be competing on the spacious open terrace with the venue’s beachfront views serving as the cuisine- appropriate backdrop. All competing chefs will have one hour to complete their recipe and present it to judges. Chef “Panini Pete” Blohme will serve as official event emcee and will ensure all chefs and event participants are entertained while being kept to the official timer.

The ASCO is free for all attendees. General admission will enjoy a pasta dinner, compliments of Alabama Gulf Seafood, in addition to a cash bar. Alabama Gulf Seafood merchandise will be available onsite. 

About the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission

Established by executive order in March 2011, the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC) was created to help provide advice, oversight, management and encouragement to the marketing of Alabama seafood. Led by Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the ASMC is comprised of volunteer members appointed by the governor that includes fishermen, processors, charter boat operators, retailers, restaurant owners and others directly and indirectly related to the Alabama seafood industry.

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