Chef Gregory Gourdet of Departure Restaurant in Portland, OR in took first place at the ninth annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans on August 11. His dish of slow cooked Oregon Chinook Salmon featuring Butter Clams, Bacon Dashi, Porcini, Roasted Heirloom Tomato and Crispy Sea Greens impressed a discriminating panel of judges and earned him the title of King of American Seafood.
The event, sponsored by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, is known for pitting up-and-coming chefs against recognized culinary greats from throughout the United States. The chefs were asked to create unique dishes with domestic seafood, and utilize fish that’s native to their home states whenever possible. Prior winners include John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, MS and John Besh of Restaurant August in New Orleans.
“This year we had more chefs participate than ever before, raising the competition to a whole new level,” said Ewell Smith, executive producer of the Cook-Off and executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. “Chef Gourdet secured an extraordinary win and we’re proud to have him join previous winners in serving as an ambassador for domestic and sustainable seafood.”
The 2011 King of American Seafood, Chef Jim Smith of the Alabama Governor’s Mansion crowned Chef Gourdet during the official awards presentation. Chef Keith Frentz of LOLA in Covington, LA earned second prize with a dish of Louisiana Black Drum and Gulf Shrimp, while Chef Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Austin, TX took home third prize with his Head-to-Tail Gulf Shrimp Fritter.
NOAA’s Fisheries Service is the annual event’s chief sponsor and uses the cook-off to highlight – to American seafood consumers – the agency’s commitment to a healthy marine environment and improving the nation’s domestic seafood supply.
“NOAA has been involved from the start, and I am thrilled to see the event become bigger and bigger each year,” said Sam Rauch, Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, a long-time supporter of the Great American Seafood Cook-Off. “The event has been highly effective in raising awareness of the value of our domestic fisheries, and it displays the skills of our country’s most talented seafood chefs.”
Sig Hansen, one of the featured captains on Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, co-hosted the 2012 Great American Seafood Cook Off along with Chef Cory Bahr of Restaurant Cotton, who is also a recent winner of Food Network’s Chopped, and Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
Judges of the 2012 competition were: Chef Joho of Everest and Paris Club in Chicago, Brasserie Jo in Boston and Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas; Chef Johnny Nunn, executive chef of Brasserie Montmartre in Portland, OR; Liz Grossman, managing editor of Plate Magazine; Ron Ruggless, Bureau Chief at Nation’s Restaurant News; Vicki Wellington, vice president and publisher of Food Network Magazine; and Sam Rauch, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Earlier this year, organizers of The Great American Seafood Cook-Off encouraged states to hold a qualifying round or appoint a chef to compete in the event. There were chefs representing 16 states such as: Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Oregon’s entry to the Cook-Off was sponsored by Seafood OREGON, the marketing arm of the state’s four industry-funded seafood Commodity Commissions – the Oregon Albacore, Dungeness Crab, Salmon and Trawl Commissions – that operate under the umbrella of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Previous winners of the Great American Seafood Cook-Off include:
2011 – Jim Smith, Alabama Governor’s Mansion
2010 – Dean Max, 3030 Ocean, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2009 – Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, LA
2008 – John Currence, City Grocery, Oxford, MS
2007 – Tim Thomas, Ocean Forest Golf Club, Sea Island, GA
2006 – Justin Timineri, Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services
2005 – Randy Evans, Brennan’s of Houston, Houston, TX
2004 – John Besh, Restaurant August, New Orleans, LA
More information and winning recipes will be available at http://www.GreatAmericanSeafoodCookoff.com.