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Chef Jim Smith wins Great American Seafood Cook-Off 2011

Posted: August 15, 2011

By aroth | Published: August 9, 2011
Press Contact: Shea Communications
Richard Shea (917) 584-3542
FOR RELEASE:                                                                   
NEW ORLEANS (August 6, 2011) – Chef Jim Smith, executive chef of the Alabama Governor’s Mansion, took first place at the eighth annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans today.  He impressed the judges with a dish titled “Late Summer Alabama Bounty” that featured sous vide shrimp and marinated crab with garam masala, scented yellow squash puree, farmers market lady peas, bacon-peach relish and Spanish basil oil.

The event, sponsored by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, is known for pitting up-and-coming chefs against recognized culinary greats from throughout the United States. The chefs were asked to create unique dishes with domestic seafood, and utilize fish that’s native to their home states. Prior winners include John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, MS and John Besh of Restaurant August in New Orleans.

“We congratulate Chef Smith on an extraordinary win and we’re proud to have him serve as an ambassador for domestic and sustainable seafood,” said Ewell Smith, executive producer of the Cook-Off and executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. “The competition was very close this year and each one of our chefs demonstrated extraordinary culinary talents with an array of sustainable seafood from throughout the country.”
The 2010 King of American Seafood Chef Dean Max, executive chef at 3030 Ocean in Ft. Lauderdale, FL crowned Chef Smith King of American Seafood during the official awards presentation.  Chef Bud Gruniger of North Carolina earned second prize with a red drum creation, and Chef Scott Anderson of New Jersey took home third prize with a dish featuring New Jersey fluke.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service is the annual event’s chief sponsor and uses the cook-off to highlight – to American seafood consumers – the agency’s commitment to a healthy marine environment and improving the nation’s domestic seafood supply.
“At NOAA, we emphasize that U.S. seafood is healthy, safe, and good for you,” said Eric Schwaab, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator. “Events such as the annual Seafood Cook-off are a terrific way to bring that message right to the public, especially those folks interested in new and creative ways to prepare seafood.”
Kevin Roberts, a chef/restaurant owner from Southern California and host of BBQ Pitmasters on TLC, co-hosted the Great American Seafood Cook-Off with John Folse, the chef known as Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World.

 Judges of the 2011 competition were: Chef Rick Moonen, an advocate for sustainable seafood, restaurateur, cookbook author and finalist in Top Chef Masters; Laura McIntosh, host of traveling cooking show Bringing It Home; Chef Roland Schaefer of the American Academy of Chefs; Patricia Mack of; Melissa Kogut, executive director of the Chefs Collaborative, and Will Blunt, managing editor of

Earlier this year, organizers of The Great American Seafood Cook-Off encouraged states to hold a qualifying round or appoint a chef to compete in the event.  There were chefs representing 14 states such as: Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. The 2011 Great American Seafood Cook Off is endorsed by the National Restaurant Association and will be audited by the National Fisheries Institute.

Past winners of the Great American Seafood Cook Off are Dean Max of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans; John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, MS; Tim Thomas of the Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, GA; Justin Timineri, Executive Chef for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Randy Evans of Brennan’s of Houston, and John Besh of Restaurant August in New Orleans.

Great American Seafood Cook Off sponsors include NOAA and FishWatch, Loubat Food Service Equipment, The Louisiana Restaurant Association,, Budweiser, Southwest Cargo, Tabasco, and Whole Foods Market.  The event also receives support from the National Fisheries Institute, Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Royal Sonesta Hotel, Waterford Crystal, Hammer Stahl, Bayou Classic Cookware. A special thanks also to media sponsors, Culinary Concierge, Gulfscapes Magazine, Louisiana Cookin’ and Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
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