Here in Alabama, we’re immensely proud of our seafood industry and the folks who handle it every day.
That’s why we’re always excited to put our product to the test at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, an annual cooking competition that pits numerous states against each other in one of the country’s biggest seafood showdowns.
The 2014 chapter of the event will take place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, August 2 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La. This year, Chef David Bancroft of Acre in Auburn, Ala. was tapped to represent our state against 15 other chefs from across the country.
Bancroft was nominated this year by a panel of previous Alabama GASCO representatives, including 2013 representative Chef Rob McDaniel, 2012 representative Chef Chris Hastings, 2011 winner Chef Jim Smith, and 2010 representative Chef Wesley True.
“When I first heard about the opportunity, Chris Hastings mentioned that they had put me in the running for it,” said Bancroft. “I was already flattered and honored that they thought of me. After being named the representative, I was shocked.”
Bancroft will spending plenty of time concepting his dish in the coming weeks. But cooking isn’t all he’s doing to prepare for this national event. He’s been in touch with Alabama past four GASCO contestants for advice on everything from preparation to technique.
Smith and True will be at this year’s competition as well for the Taste of the Gulf reception the Friday before the event at Antoine’s, featuring samples of fresh seafood straight from the Gulf Coast.
“They’re all good friends, and all of them are people that I look up to in the industry,” said Bancroft. “Having the opportunity to get some tips and techniques from these guys and some strategies will be crucial for me to have success.”
And if he does pull off the victory next month? Bancroft believes it’ll be a win for the whole state.
“Growing up and seeing the quality of the fish we have in the Gulf, I find it superior in freshness and flavor, and for me I’m biased because it’s heritage and tradition,” said Bancroft. “It would be special for all of us to have Alabama come back with the victory.”
Bancroft is “new Southern” chef who was previously the Executive Chef of Amsterdam Café in Auburn from 2006 through 2011 before opening Acre in 2013. His commitment to using locally sourced ingredients has earned him recognition from ESPN’s “Taste of the Town,” Southern Living Magazine, Alabama Magazine, and several other publications.