From the Shore to Your Plate: Top Ten Alabama Seafood Moments of 2013

It’s been quite a year for Alabama Gulf Seafood.

While the men and women of our seafood industry have been working hard as ever to catch and cook fresh Gulf seafood, we’ve been spreading the good news throughout our state (and beyond). If you’ve been keeping up with us all year, you know that there was a lot going on in the world of Alabama Gulf Seafood.

2013 was also a landmark year. We participated in a number of events right here at home, but Alabama Gulf Seafood showed up all across the country this year, from New York City to Las Vegas.

While there were lots great events all year long, these are our top ten moments from 2013.

#10 – The Hangout Music Fest in Gulf Shores

With four impressive years on its track record, The Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores is already one of the country’s best music festivals. But it’s also one of Alabama’s biggest tourism opportunities.

We decided to show out-of-towners and locals alike what the world’s best seafood tastes like by setting up our own tent in the middle of the festival grounds and serving fresh Gulf seafood all weekend long. Needless to say, our stuff was pretty popular.

But the celebration didn’t exactly end with the last performance; Palladia showed highlights from the festival later in the year, and Alabama Gulf Seafood TV spots ran during the national premiere.

#9 – Back Forty Beers Spreads the Love

Enjoy a cold beer with your fresh Gulf seafood? Yeah, we do too.

That’s why we were really excited to form a partnership this year with Gadsden’s Back Forty Beer Company. Not only did they put our logo on the back of their bottles, they (along with our pals at Good People Brewing Company) gave us some great advice for beer pairings with fresh Gulf seafood.

#8 – American Culinary Federation Dinners

The American Culinary Federation is one of the premier culinary organizations in the nation, and throughout the year, noteworthy chefs from all over gather for a big, fancy dinner.

Guess who provided the seafood this year? Yes, that’d be us. Here’s what we brought to each dinner:

  • Gulf fish at the Southeast Conference in Louisville, Ky.
  • Jumbo lump crabmeat at the Northeast Conference in Verona, N.Y.
  • Gulf shrimp at the Western Conference in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
  • Gulf oysters at the Southwest Conference in Little Rock, Ark.
  • Red Snapper at the National Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

And trust us, they ate every bite.

#7 – Artificial Reefs Series

If you aren’t in tune with the process of artificial reefs, it’s quite fascinating. This year, Alabama’s artificial reef program spent $1.5 million to create new habitats in hopes of expanding fish populations (and attracting some new species).

We documented the process in a three-part series that featured underwater pyramids, sunken ships and oyster-shell reefs.

#6 – Alabama Gulf Seafood Hits Local Grocery Stores

What’s the best kind of Gulf seafood? The kind you can buy and eat every day, of course.

That’s why we were overjoyed that several grocery stores in the Jefferson Country area began selling fresh Gulf seafood this year, including Piggly Wiggly, Whole Foods and Western Supermarkets. From boutique oysters to the catch of the day, Birmingham residents can now find fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood in their neighborhood. Just look for our logo and check the seafood counter for weekly specials.

#5 – “Bizarre Foods” Visits the Gulf Coast

The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” is one of the coolest and kookiest food shows you’ll come across. And, lucky for us, Alabama’s Gulf Coast was featured in one of this year’s episodes. In fact, host Andrew Zimmern’s top moment from the episode was his exploration of the Vietnamese fishing community in Bayou La Batre.

Didn’t get to tune in for the world premiere of Andrew’s visit to the “Third Coast?” You can stream it on YouTube for only $1.99.

#4 – Red Snapper Season Gets an Extension

Alabama is the Red Snapper capital of the world. So, naturally, we were excited about an extra two-week Snapper season in October.

Red Snapper is an important species in terms of both cooking and eating fresh seafood and also deep sea fishing, so when it comes to Snapper season, it’s like Christmas coming twice a year.

#3 – 6th Annual Oyster Cook-Off at The Hangout

The fresh Gulf seafood doesn’t stop when the weather gets cold. In fact, some of our favorite events happen in the fall, like the Annual Oyster Cook-Off in Gulf Shores at The Hangout.

Held annually on the white sands of the Alabama coastline in the heart of the Gulf Coast, this year’s Oyster Cook-Off brought together more than 70 celebrity chefs, “Food Network Stars, ” and culinary notables from across the U.S. as well as a long list of well-known Gulf coast restaurateurs.

Thousands gathered to scarf down oysters prepared every way you can imagine while enjoying Bloody Mary bars, live music and college football viewing areas throughout the day.

Oyster lovers, mark your calendars for 2014!

#2 – Big Apple BBQ in New York City

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is one of New York City’s finest foodie festivals. But don’t let the name fool you—there was more than just pork at this feast.

We brought hundreds of pounds of fresh Gulf seafood for the people to enjoy in the No Bone Zone. Wintzell’s Oyster House was on hand to serve up Gulf oysters “fried, stewed, or nude,” and Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club showed the crowds how we do Gulf seafood down South with a pair of cooking demos.

#1 – 2013 Alabama Gulf Seafood Summit in Mobile

This year, we put together a brand new event: the Alabama Gulf Seafood Summit. The idea was to bring together folks from all walks of life in the seafood industry—fishermen, processors, distributors, buyers, chefs, restaurateurs, and general seafood lovers—so that discussions could be started and partnerships could be formed. Speakers included the following:

  • Governor Robert Bentley
  • Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan
  • Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Gunter Guy
  • Local elected officials Rep. Steve McMillan, Rep. David Sessions and Rep. Jim Barton
  • Seafood buyers from Whole Foods, Sysco, Inland Seafood and the Alabama Grocers Association
  • Representatives from the restaurant industry such as Wintzell’s Oyster House and Aloha Hospitality (Baumhower’s Wings, The Compleat Angler and Wings U)
  • James K Lyons, Alabama State Port Authority and Alabama Gulf Coast Restoration Council
  • Presenters from Alabama International Trade Center, South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, Southern U.S. Trade Association and Gulf Seafood Trace

Our first year was a great success that lead to lots of collaborative efforts, and we’re really excited about what we’ve got in store for next year.

Bonus! – Chris Nelson Wins Supplier of the Year

Chris Nelson is one of the smartest folks in the Alabama seafood industry. He’s also very good at his job.

That’s why we were quite proud of Nelson for bringing home the Supplier of the Year award at the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance’s 13th Annual Hospitality Stars of Alabama Awards for the work he does at Bon Secour Fisheries, the Nelson brothers’ family-owned business that’s been around for more than a century.

Congrats again, Chris!