Birmingham’s Chef George Reis Named Alabama Seafood Cook-Off Champion

Alabama Gulf Seafood is proud to announce that Chef George Reis, owner of Ocean in Birmingham, has been crowned the inaugural Alabama Seafood Cook-Off Champion.

Reis bested his culinary opponents at the inaugural cook-off event, held Friday, May 1, as part of Southern Makers in Montgomery. Chef Brandon Burleson of Voyagers Restaurant in Orange Beach was named runner-up. Other finalists included Miguel Figueroa of A&P Social in Montgomery and Brody Olive of Spectrum Resorts in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach.

Reis’ winning recipe integrated Cumin Coriander Crusted Grouper, Alabama Shrimp Sausage, English Pea Hummus, Sand Mountain Tomato Jam, Pickled Carrots and Radishes, and Preserved Lemon Oil.

In addition to holding this coveted title, Reis will now go on to represent our state in the 12th Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO), which will be held later this year. The annual cooking competition pits the finest and most celebrated seafood chefs from across the nation against each other in one of the country’s biggest seafood showdowns.

“The skill level exemplified by each chef was impressive on many levels, and we would have been proud for any of our finalists to represent Alabama at a national level,” said Chef Jim Smith, executive chef for the State of Alabama, current chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC), and winner of the 2011 GASCO competition. “We congratulate Chef Reis on this outstanding career accomplishment and look forward to watching him compete on behalf of our state at GASCO.”

Reis, born in the Midwest and raised in upstate New York, moved to Birmingham and opened Ocean in 2002. The restaurant, which draws upon the flavors of the world and combines them with the freshest seafood, has won several awards including the AAA Four Diamond Award for 2007 through 2013 and the Wine Spectator Award for 2004 through 2012.

He followed Ocean’s success with the 2006 launch of its sister restaurant, 26, which was named that same year as “Birmingham’s Best New Restaurant” by The Birmingham News and won the Wine Spectator Award from 2009 to 2012. The restaurant is closed temporarily as it transitions to reopen as a public house and oyster bar later this spring.