For five years now, Alabama Gulf Seafood has invited chefs all throughout the state to compete for our state’s official seafood cooking crown.
In that span, we’ve had winners right here on the Gulf Coast, and we’ve had winners as far north as Florence and Birmingham. And we’ll be crowning a new winner at the 5th annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off (ASCO) on Wednesday, May 1st in Bayou La Batre, AL.
This year’s finalists are:
Chef Ramon Jacobsen of Odette in Florence, AL Chef Jeremiah Matthews of Southwood Kitchen in Daphne, AL Chef Matthew Palamara of Coastal Alabama Community College in Gulf Shores, AL Chef Scott Simpson of The Depot in Auburn, AL
Chef Matthews and Chef Simpson both participated in last year’s ASCO, with Chef Simpson serving as the runner-up. Chef Jacobsen and Chef Palamara will both be participating for the first time.
This year’s event, like last year’s, will take place at the Bayou La Batre Community Center. The event is free and open to the public. Additionally, the ASCO will once again coincide with the Taste Of The Bayou event, which is $10 for general admission and $30 for VIP tickets.
This year’s judges will include 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 Sherrill, chef ambassador of the Alabama Gulf Coast, will serve as emcee for the event.
“This year’s four finalists are a reflection of the outstanding talent across the state,” said Chef Smith. “We are excited to see what unique, Alabama seafood dishes each team will deliver.”
Each chef will be joined by an assistant for the competition. As we’ve done since the beginning, judges’ scorecards will be broken down into 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.
Along with earning the title of ASCO champion, this year’s winner, as in past years, will represent the state of Alabama at the 16th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans, LA in August. This year’s winner will also be an automatic qualifier for the 2019 World Food Championships in Dallas, TX in October.
“Alabama’s seafood industry is flourishing, and when we narrowed down the entries, we saw many inventive dishes,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and program administrator for the ASMC. “But we are happy with our selection of the final four contestants. We would like to wish the best of luck to each them, and we look forward to an exciting competition in May.”
Hope to see y’all in Bayou La Batre next month!