The best of Alabama's seafood industry was on display Wednesday night in Bayou La Batre as four of the state's top chefs competed in the 4th Annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off.
Hundreds made their way down to the Bayou La Batre Community Center to watch the following chefs compete.
Jason RamirezVillagio Grill, Orange BeachGrouper Roulade, Wrapped in Ham, Served with Feta Cheese, Squash, Roasted Tomato Puree, Garnished with Chopped Basil
Scott SimpsonThe Depot, Auburn Alabama "Pompanella" Fried Alabama Oyster Panzanella Salad of Local Sweet Corn, Connecuh Bacon, Heirloom Tomatoes, Summer Green Beans, Sweet Onion & Asiago Croutons on Pea Pesto w/Chilton Peach Balsamic Jeremy DowneyBistro V, BirminghamSeared Grouper, Sauteed Chayote Squash, Apple Smoked Bacon, Vidalia Onions, Royal Red Shrimp Ceviche, Crab Stuffed Squash Blossom, with Salsa Verde on side
Jeremiah MatthewsSouthwood Kitchen, DaphneSeed-crusted Alabama Red Snapper, Beach Mushrooms, Baldwin City Sweet Corn, with Nectar Sauce
Similar to a Top Chef competition, each had one hour to prepare their dish and impress the judges, who would score them in different categories -- including:
Presentation, General Impression, & Serving MethodCreativity & Practicality Composition and Harmony of IngredientsCorrect Preparation & CraftsmanshipFlavor, Taste, & Texture
"I enjoy doing it, I love the fill of it. And I have a good time doing it," said Ramirez.
"So this is going to be delicious. Instead of just basil I'm using local peas. Some nice greens, a little bit of lemon juice to bring out the flavors," said Simpson.
What do you think is going to set your dish apart? -- "Alabama Red Snapper - absolutely," said Matthews.
Each chef was keeping track of time and sticking to strategy.
"Slow and low… and end the end kind of kick it in gear… 4th quarter finish," said Downey.
There were five judges who had their work cut out for them.
"This is a very well executed dish. Roulade is a very difficult technique and this dish was executed beautifully," said Jim Smith, Executive Chef for State of Alabama.
It's all showcasing what Alabama does best -- seafood.
"It's so great to be able to promote the industry and to promote the great chef's we have in Alabama and what they can take this great fresh product and what they can turn it into which is a delicious dish," said Christ Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Program Administrator of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission.
Downey took home the title and now advances to the Great American Cook-Off in New Orleans, as well as, the 2018 World Food Championships in Orange Beach. Simpson was the runner-up.
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