After an unexpected summer off in 2020, the Alabama Seafood Cook-Off (ASCO) is back for a sixth year on Monday, June 21. And this year’s group of finalists includes a great mix of new competitors and familiar faces.
First up is Chef Michael Andrzejewski of Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina. Chef Andrzejewski will be competing in his first ASCO, and he’ll be preparing Gulf Tripletail and Smoked Fish Fritters with Bacon Jam and Green Herb Purée.
Next up is Chef Brandon Burleson of the Sparta Academy Nutrition Program in Evergreen. Chef Burleson competed in the first ASCO back in 2015, representing Voyagers Restaurant. He’ll be preparing Flame-Kissed Margarita Shrimp over Warm Esquites with Alabama Blue Crab.
Our third contestant will be Chef Kelly Grady Hargroves of the Wind Creek Hotel & Casino in Montgomery. Chef Hargroves will also be making his second appearance after competing at the third annual ASCO in 2017. He’ll be preparing a Gulf BBQ Plate (Fish, Grits, and Greens).
Rounding out the four contestants will be Chef Scott Simpson of The Depot in Auburn. Chef Simpson will be competing in his third straight ASCO, and that streak includes a runner-up finish in 2018. He’ll be preparing Pan-Seared Gulf Yellow Edge Grouper Stuffed Poblano Chiles on Gulf Shrimp, Sweet Corn, and Conecuh Bacon Risotto with Cilantro Crema.
This year’s competition will change locations yet again to Gulf Shores, where chefs will compete at the newly renovated The Lodge at Gulf State Park. And the event will be free to the public this year, including complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
Judges this year will include a pair of former winners in Chef Ramon Jacobsen of Northwood Social in Florence (2019 ASCO champion) and Chef Jeremy Downey of Bistro V in Birmingham (2018 ASCO champion). Joining these champions will be three mainstay judges in Chef Jim Smith, 2011 Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO) champion and chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission; Jason Burnett, founding editor of MyRecipes.com and Oyster-Obsession.com; and David Holloway, noted food writer and enthusiast.
As in recent years, the winner of the ASCO will go on to compete in the GASCO in New Orleans this summer. An Alabama chef hasn’t won the GASCO title since Chef Smith did it, so we’ll be rooting hard for a new champion to end our decade-long drought.
After five great years of ASCO action, we’re ready to get back in the kitchen with these excellent chefs. Join us June 21st at The Lodge at Gulf State Park and see who wins the 2021 crown!