05.15.2013

Alabama Gulf Seafood Returns Bigger and Better to the Big Apple Barbecue

For years, barbecue reined supreme at Southern Living’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. And for good reason—pitmasters from across the nation gather annually in New York City to show off their smoking skills, and nearly 150,000 New Yorkers stop by to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

But last year, Alabama Gulf Seafood changed the game.

As the only seafood at last year’s Big Apple BBQ, Alabama Gulf Seafood provided a change of pace for foodies looking for a fresh, healthy alternative after pigging out on pork. And thanks to the pairing of Wintzell’s Oyster House and Chef Chris Hastings of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club, this year’s offering will be bigger and better.

Hastings was on hand for a pair of cooking demonstrations, and the response exceeded all expectations.

“When we did the cooking demo, people lost their minds,” said Hastings, who showed off recipes for Baked Alabama Oysters and BBQ Grilled Head On Alabama Shrimp. “They loved having something other than pork. The response surprised even us it was so popular.”

Alabama Gulf Seafood will be returning to New York City this year for the 11th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party on June 8th and 9th to hand out more free samples.

Hastings will be back as well to prepare two new dishes: Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Sweet Corn, Field Peas, Fried Okra and Heirloom Tomatoes, and Grilled Alabama Gulf Grouper with Cherry Tomatoes, Grilled Onion, Avocado and a Basil Lime Vinaigrette.

“What we did last year was delicious, but it was also very, very simple,” said Hastings. “I wanted to do things this year that were more involved. And I wanted to diversify the product.”

Hastings is predicting another tremendous response from this year’s crowd.

“The grouper…when you eat it, it’ll freak you out,” he said.”

Hot and Hot Fish Club won’t be the only Alabama seafood institution represented at this year’s event.

Wintzell’s Oyster House will be on hand to present the No Bone Zone, a pre-ticketed event that will showcase Alabama Gulf Seafood. Patrons can enjoy fresh Gulf oysters in one of Wintzell’s three trademark fashions: “fried, stewed, or nude.”

Tickets for the Alabama Gulf Seafood No Bone Zone are now available for $40 each. Sale ends one hour prior to the event.

Champagne will be served as well to commemorate a landmark year for Wintzell’s. Not only is the restaurant celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, they’re opening the first of three locations in the Pittsburgh area (their first franchise locations outside of Alabama) this summer.

With two well-established representatives on hand at this year’s Big Apple Barbecue, Alabama Gulf Seafood is set to make an even bigger impact at this year’s event.

Chris Blankenship, director of Alabama Marine Resources and program administrator for the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission, believes the event will be successful in terms of not just raised awareness but increased business as well.

“Last year showed that there is a demand for that quality Gulf product,” said Blankenship. “Hopefully this year we can capitalize better on the buzz and excitement over Alabama Gulf Seafood and turn that into some sales.”

The Alabama Gulf Seafood No Bone Zone by Wintzell’s Oyster House will be open from 4–6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Hastings will be preparing his Grilled Jumbo Shrimp at the “From Tide to Table” seminar at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Grilled Alabama Gulf Grouper at “The Deepest Part of the South” at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.