Meet the Florence-based chef behind this year’s winning ASCO dish

Kyle Ogden, the chef behind this year’s winning Alabama Seafood Cook-Off (ASCO) dish, fell in love with cooking while taking home economics classes in high school. However, turning his passion for cooking into a career wasn’t always part of his plan.

Although Ogden originally pursued a degree in exercise science at Auburn, his true passion for cooking eventually took center stage, leading him to Florence to kick-start his culinary career.

His time at the 360 Grille and later alongside Josh Quick at Odette allowed him to hone his craft and establish a deep-rooted connection with the local culinary scene.

Located in historic downtown Florence, Odette features elevated American fare with regional influences. Their menu changes seasonally to highlight fresh Alabama Gulf seafood as well as locally sourced meats and vegetables. Ogden has seen the restaurant grow and evolve in its years of being open, and thanks to the stellar reputation Odette has built, Ogden and his team have more creativity to develop menus with both classic and unique dishes.

"One of the biggest things we look at is what’s in season. We’re really lucky and really thankful that we have a good relationship with our fish suppliers and our farmers. It’s important for us to use what we can get and build dishes around those items," Chef Ogden shared.

That seasonality was some of the inspiration behind "Spring Tide", the winning ASCO dish prepared by Ogden and his sous chef Taylor Bradley, which showcases seared pompano stuffed with a crab and shrimp mousse and complemented by Kodachrome garden vegetables.

Ogden's advice for home chefs? Embrace seasonal ingredients.

"Go to your local farmer’s market and see what’s available. Local goods are available and easy to get your hands on if you just go look for them."

By championing locally sourced produce and Gulf seafood, chefs not only elevate the quality of their dishes but also support the hardworking farmers and seafood processors in Alabama.

"The sheer diversity of Alabama Gulf seafood makes it stand out. You can really get the whole spectrum of textures and flavors," Ogden explained.

The upcoming Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans will see Ogden and Bradley showcasing Alabama Gulf seafood on a national stage. This follows Alabama Chef Brody Olive's victory in 2023, marking the second time Alabama has won national honors at the event.

In 2024, we hope Chef Ogden will make it a three-peat.

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