In five years of hosting the Alabama Seafood Cook-Off (ASCO), we saw something we hadn’t yet seen before in this year’s competition: a repeat winner. (When it comes to the restaurant, at least.)
Chef Ramon Jacobsen of Odette in Florence, AL, took home the top prize at this year’s ASCO at the Bayou La Batre Community Center in Bayou La Batre, AL. This marks the second victory from an Odette chef after Chef Josh Quick—who served as Jacobsen’s sous chef in this year’s competition—took home top honors in 2016.
“This has been a great experience,” Jacobsen said after the competition. “I’m very happy to share this with the people I work with here in Alabama. I came from Peru 13 years ago to this state and fell in love with it. I’m so happy to win this.”
Jacobsen impressed this year’s panel of judges with his delicious Gulf Snapper Escabeche with Kalamata Olive Causa recipe. Red Snapper was a popular entrée in this year’s competition, but none was tastier than Jacobsen’s.
This year’s runner-up is Chef Jeremiah Matthews of Southwood Kitchen in Daphne, AL, who participated in last year’s ASCO. Other participants included last year’s runner-up, Chef Scott Simpson of The Depot in Auburn, AL, and ASCO newcomer Chef Matthew Palamara of the Coastal Alabama Community College in Gulf Shores, AL.
This year’s judges included Chef Jim Smith, chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC); Chef Jeremy Downey, 2018 ASCO champion and owner of Bistro V in Birmingham; Jason Burnett, founding editor of MyRecipes.com and Oyster-Obsession.com; and David Holloway, food writer and enthusiast. Chris Sherril, chef ambassador of the Alabama Gulf Coast, served as the emcee for the evening.
Paired with this year’s ASCO, as last year, was Bayou La Batre’s annual Taste Of The Bayou event, in which guests could purchase tasting tickets to sample some of the city’s freshest fare, including plenty of Alabama Gulf Seafood.
“The fifth annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off was a great success and a wonderful representation of the talented chefs and world class seafood we have in the state of Alabama,” said Chef Jim Smith. “Chef Ramon Jacobsen will be a great ambassador for Alabama Gulf Seafood and a tough competitor going forward.”
As this year’s ASCO champion, Chef Jacobsen will be representing the State of Alabama at this year’s 16th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans, LA in August, which hasn’t seen an Alabama champion since Chef Smith in 2011. Additionally, Chef Jacobsen will be an automatic qualifier for the 2019 World Food Championships in Dallas, TX in October.
Congratulations to Chef Jacobsen and his team, hats off to Odette for a second ASCO champion, and thanks to everyone who joined us last night in Bayou La Batre for another great Alabama Seafood Cook-Off!