Calling All Chefs: The 6th Annual Oyster Cook-Off

Anyone can fire up a grill and cook hamburgers or hot dogs.

But oysters? Well, to prepare a creative, delicious, inspiring oyster, it takes some serious culinary talent.

That’s exactly what will be on display Nov. 9 in Gulf Shores when The Hangout kicks off the 6th Annual Oyster Cook-Off, featuring seafood chefs from all across the state. And, of course, plenty of tasty oysters, straight from Alabama’s Gulf Coast and at the peak of their seasonal freshness.

Whether you’re an all-star chef, a local restaurateur or simply a backyard grillmaster, it’s not too late to sign-up for this year’s event. The registration deadline is Oct. 18, and the registration fee is $250 before Sept. 27 and $300 before Oct. 18.

Oysters will be judged in three categories—Oyster Rockefeller, Cajun Oyster and Create Your Own Raw Oyster—and Cook-Off attendees will be able to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Champion. Awards range from cash prizes to VIP passes to the 2014 Hangout Music Festival.

There will be thousands of fresh Alabama oysters on hand for this year’s Cook-Off, but it won’t be short on competition either. Every year, several celebrity chefs assemble a team in hopes of taking home the big prizes.

“A little friendly competition is always fun,” said Wesley True, owner and head chef of True Montgomery and True Midtown Kitchen, who competed in the Oyster Cook-Off last year. “I enjoy trying all the different chef’s oyster creations, and of course you can’t beat the view of the ocean!”

Martie Duncan, professional party planner and finalist on the eighth season of “Food Network Star,” was in the mix last year as well.

“I brought a team of Food Network Stars to compete with me but also to introduce them to our Alabama Gulf Coast and Alabama Gulf Seafood,” said Duncan. “Every chef has his/her spin on the three categories of oysters, so it’s just an endless culinary expedition.”

Of course, you don’t have to be a chef to show up for the Oyster Cook-Off. Hundreds of seafood fans will flock to The Hangout to enjoy great fall weather, marquee college football on the big screens, and of course, the tastiest oysters you’ve ever eaten.

And if you’ve never tried an oyster, well, perhaps this is the perfect weekend to dive in.

“It’s undeniable that there is something very special about Alabama oysters,” said Jim Smith, the executive chef for the State of Alabama, who competed last year for the first time and will return this year. “The taste embodies the sea and the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. This great flavor makes them so versatile and such a special ingredient.”

For more information on the 6th Annual Oyster Cook-Off, visit the official Oyster Cook-Off event site and check out this video recap from last year.