Our Alabama Seafood Cook-Off family added a fourth champion last night in Bayou La Batre.
Chef Jeremy Downey of Bistro V in Birmingham was awarded first place at the 2018 Alabama Seafood Cook-Off (ASCO). It was Chef Downey’s first time competing in the ASCO.
Chef Downey’s award-winning dish was Cast Iron Grouper with Royal Red Mezcal Ceviche, Benton’s Bacon, Sweet Onion, Chayote Squash, and Lump Crab stuffed with Squash Blossoms, Tempura Style with Salsa Verde. Needless to say, this creative combination wowed the judges and earned some impressive scores.
Chef Downey’s win last night earned him the honor of representing Alabama at this year’s Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO) in New Orleans in August. Additionally, Chef Downey is now an automatic qualifier for the 2018 World Food Championships at The Wharf in Orange Beach in November.
“It was a great experience to compete with truly talented chefs in such an exciting environment,” said Chef Downey. “I am more than proud to be a part of Team Alabama and represent the seafood industry. I hope I can make them proud and bring back a title.”
This was the first year that the ASCO was held in Bayou La Batre, known as the Seafood Capital of Alabama. The ASCO was paired with a local favorite event, Taste of the Bayou, which featured samples of Alabama Gulf Seafood dishes for guests to enjoy as they watched the competition.
More than 450 people were in attendance at the Bayou La Batre Community Center, the largest crowd ever for an ASCO event. Chef Downey’s grandmother was among them, and she was honored with a plate of her grandson’s winning dish.
This year’s runner-up was Chef Scott Simpson of The Depot in Auburn, also competing for the first time. Also competing were Chef Jason Ramirez of Villaggio Grille in Orange Beach, last year’s runner-up, and Chef Jeremiah Matthews of Southwood Kitchen in Daphne, also competing for the first time.
This year’s judges included Chef Jim Smith, Chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC) and winner of the 2011 GASCO; Chef Brody Olive, winner of the 2017 ASCO; Jason Burnett, founding editor of MyRecipes.com and Oyster-Obsession.com; David Holloway, food writer and food enthusiast; Ernie Anderson, owner of Graham Shrimp Company.
Former Food Network Star finalist Martie Duncan returned as the emcee of the event.
“We expected all of the chefs to bring their A game, and we weren’t disappointed,” said Chef Smith. “Jeremy will be a great representative for our state and our seafood at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, and he’ll be a great addition to the team at the World Food Championships.”
A special thanks is due to our ASCO partners, including Alabama Tourism Department, Big Sky Bread Company, United Johnson Brothers Distributing, G Mommas Cookies, Great Bear Wax Co., Organized Seafood Association of Alabama, South Mobile County Tourism Authority, Alabama Power, Bayou La Batre Chamber of Commerce, Alabama Coasting, Humphries Screen Printing, and World Food Championships Team Alabama.
And thank you of course to the hundreds of people who joined us last night in Bayou La Batre for great Alabama Seafood treats and a thrilling culinary competition!