Florence, AL isn’t exactly a next-door neighbor to Gulf Coast.
Clocking in at just over 275 miles from Mobile, AL (and that’s just pure distance, not driving distance), Florence was by far the farthest city being represented at the 2nd annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off (ASCO) at The Wharf in Orange Beach on May 25.
But that didn’t stop Chef Josh Quick of Odette from cooking a fantastic, fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood dish and winning the whole thing.
“We support some local farms and get some meats from there, but we’re obviously not on the coast,” said Quick before the competition. “It’s great to be able to support another part of our state. To be able to bring that up to North Alabama, we get great feedback from our guests and they really enjoy having it.”
The ASCO took place at The Wharf for the first time and featured three additional competitors: Chef Gillian Clark of Kitchen on George in Mobile, Chef Leonardo Maurelli III of Ariccia Trattoria in Auburn, and Chef Brody Olive of Perdido Beach Resort, who was named runner-up after competing in the event a second straight year.
In order to pull off the victory, Chef Quick leaned on an Alabama favorite: fresh Red Snapper.
Or, to be more specific, Chef Quick’s recipe was Berbere Spiced Gulf Red Snapper with Crushed Potatoes and Andouille, Shiitake Mushroom Nage, and Dandelion Green Pesto.
“I wanted to take some really strong flavors, with the spice blend that we’re using, and use that with the Snapper,” said Quick. “We’re really happy with how it came out. We’ve already talked about maybe the next menu change putting something like that on there.”
While Chef Quick ponders the next menu change at Odette, he’ll continue to work on his dish as he prepares to represent the state of Alabama at the 13th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off later this summer. Chef Quick will aim to be the first Alabama champion since Chef Jim Smith in 2011.
Chef Quick is also now an automatic qualifier in the 2016 World Food Championships, which will also be held at The Wharf.
“The Alabama Seafood Cook-off was an awesome event,” said Chris Blankenship, program administrator of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission. “It’s always so hard to choose one winner. All of the entries were unbelievable, and they all really highlighted the great fish we have in Alabama.”
Judges for the 2nd annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off included 2015 ASCO champion Chef George Reis of Ocean in Birmingham; celebrity guest judge Kay Robertson of Duck Commander; Jason Burnett, founding editor of MyRecipes.com and Oyster Obsession; food enthusiast and AL.com writer David Holloway; Founder of 30Aeats.com and Top 100 Gulf Seafood blogger, Susan Benton; program administrator for the ASMC and director of Alabama Marine Resources, Chris Blankenship; Chef Chris Sherrill from Flora-Bama Yacht Club; and Chris Nelson, vice president, Bon Secour Fisheries. Martie Duncan served as event emcee.
Scores were based on five categories: Presentation, General Impression, and Serving Methods; Creativity and Practicality; Composition and Harmony of Ingredients; Correct Preparation and Craftsmanship; and Flavor, Taste, and Texture.