On August 3rd, 16 chefs from states across the U.S. will convene in Hall J of the Morial Convention Center to compete for top honors at the 2013 Great American Seafood Cook-off.
This year, the state of Alabama will be represented by Rob McDaniel, executive chef of the acclaimed SpringHouse restaurant, located in the Russell Crossroads area of Lake Martin. A successful restaurateur, McDaniel also serves as general manager of Lake Martin’s Kowaliga restaurant. This past spring, he was named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef South.
“I am honored to represent my home state this year,” says McDaniel. “We are blessed with a seafood-rich, and increasingly well-known, coastline here in Alabama. I welcome the competition from other participants, but most of all, I look forward to sharing with them a little taste of Alabama Gulf Seafood – the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.”
Cook-off rules require entrants to prepare an authentic dish showcasing seafood native to their home state. McDaniel will prepare a less common species of fish – Sea Bream, officially a redbone porgy – from among the many that are caught along Alabama’s coast. His recipe for the cook-off features Pan Seared Gulf Sea Bream (porgy) and Bayou La Batre Shrimp with Baby Okra, Silver Queen Corn, Heirloom Tomatoes, Lake Martin Chanterelles, and Shrimp Broth.
“I decided to use a by-catch fish that most people don’t use,” McDaniel says. “We’ve been using [Sea Bream] at SpringHouse, too. There are a lot of great things in the Gulf, and it’s unfortunate that a lot of what people eat and know about are just the popular things.”
2013 marks the fifth consecutive year Alabama has been selected to participate in the competition. Two years ago, Alabama’s representative, Chef Jim Smith, the executive chef for the State of Alabama, was crowned “King of American Seafood” thanks to a dish called “Late Summer Alabama Bounty” that featured sous vide shrimp and marinated crab straight from Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
The 2013 Great American Seafood Cook-Off emcees are: chef Cory Bahr, winner of the 2011 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, Martie Duncan, Food Network Star finalist and avid supporter of Alabama Gulf Seafood and Ewell Smith, executive director of Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.