Finalists and Judges Announced for 4th Annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off

Summer weather has arrived, and with it comes a major announcement regarding our 4th annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off (ASCO): We have our four finalists!

This year’s competitors will include:

Chef Jeremy Downey of Bistro V in Birmingham Chef Jeremiah Matthews of Southwood Kitchen in Daphne Chef Jason Ramirez of Villaggio Grille in Orange Beach Chef Scott Simpson of The Depot in Auburn

Chef Ramirez was the runner-up at last year’s ASCO at The Wharf in Orange Beach. Chef Downey, Chef Matthews, and Chef Simpson will all be competing for the first time.

This year, we’re switching things up a bit for the ASCO. For the first time ever, we’ll be holding our competition in Bayou La Batre, the Seafood Capital of Alabama!

The 4th annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off will take place June 13 at the Bayou La Batre Community Center. The event will be free and open to the public. Additionally, Bayou La Batre’s Taste of the Bayou event, where locals can come and sample fresh Gulf seafood, will run in conjunction with the ASCO. Taste of the Bayou tickets will be $10 each.

As always, our four Alabama seafood chefs will be competing not just for statewide glory but a chance to represent our state on the national stage at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO) in New Orleans this August. And similarly to recent years, our winner will also be an automatic qualifier for the 2018 World Food Championships at The Wharf in Orange Beach this November.

“The talent representing Alabama’s seafood industry seems to expand every year, and our four finalists are indicative of this,” said Chef Jim Smith, Chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission. “We look forward to an exciting competition and to what these chefs and their teams will bring to the table.”

With so much on the line for our competitors, Chef Smith—who won the GASCO in 2011—brought in some of the best judges around to help him evaluate their dishes. He’ll be joined by Chef Brody Olive, 2017 Alabama Seafood Cook-Off winner; Jason Burnett, founding editor of and; David Holloway, food writer and food enthusiast; Ernie Anderson, owner of Graham Shrimp Company; and David Calametti, CEO, president, and publisher of Alabama Coasting. Returning as the emcee of the event will be Martie Duncan, former Food Network Star finalist.

As in previous years, our four chef teams (including one lead chef plus one assistant of their choice) will be evaluated 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. These are the same criteria that the GASCO uses in their competition.

“This year’s contest will prove to be another annual highlight for Alabama’s thriving seafood culture,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and program administrator of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission. “We congratulate all finalists and wish each of them the best as they work to perfect their recipes for next month’s event.”

We can’t wait for another fantastic, family-friendly, food-focused event to celebrate Alabama’s Seafood Industry. See y’all next month!

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