EVENTS: FIRST ANNUAL ALABAMA GULF SEAFOOD COOKOFF AND WINNERS!

What a weekend of great food events across Alabama!

It started on Friday with the first ever Alabama Gulf Seafood Cookoff held in Montgomery as the kickoff to the Southern Maker's weekend. I was Emcee for the event held during the VIP party at the magnificent E.A.T. South Farm facility in downtown Montgomery. The cook-off was created to find the best seafood chef to represent Alabama in the Great American Seafood Cook-off. Invited chefs submitted a recipe utilizing Alabama Gulf seafood for consideration. After the judges deliberated and voted, four finalists were selected.

 From left: Alabama Gulf Seafood Chairman Jim Smith, Chefs Miguel Figueroa, Chef Brandon Burleson, Chef George Reis, and Chef Brody Olive at the First Annual Alabama Gulf Seafood Cook-off.

From left: Alabama Gulf Seafood Chairman Jim Smith, Chefs Miguel Figueroa, Chef Brandon Burleson, Chef George Reis, and Chef Brody Olive at the First Annual Alabama Gulf Seafood Cook-off.

Finalists then competed in the cook-off with their submitted recipes; each chef was allowed one sous chef to assist and each two-man team had one hour to complete their dish and present it to the judges. They were:

Brandon Burleson, Executive Sous Chef, Voyager's Restaurant at Perdido Beach Resort, Perdido Beach, Alabama presented Pecan and Herb Crusted Red Snapper.

Miguel Figueroa, Executive Chef, The A&P Social and Kudzu Noodle Bar, Montgomery, Alabama presented Roasted Red Snapper, Royal Red Shrimp, Braised Mushrooms, Corn Butter, and Collard Green Gnocchi.

Brody Olive, Executive Chef for Spectrum Resorts properties located on Alabama's Gulf Coast including Turquoise Place, The Beach Club, and Caribe Resort presented Pan Roasted Alabama Cobia with Toasted Cumin and Coriander Bayou la Batre Crab, Blistered Okra, Honeysuckle Scented Corn Puree, Pea Shoots and Pickled Okra Seeds.

George Reis: Owner/Executive Chef, Ocean Restaurant, Birmingham, Alabama presented Cumin Coriander Crusted Grouper with Smoked Alabama Shrimp Sausage, English Pea Hummus, Sand Mountain Tomato Jam Pickled Carrots, Radishes and Preserved Lemon Oil. Chef Reis is also featured in my Birmingham's Best Bites cookbook for a different Grouper recipe. Try that one if you have purchased the cookbook! Order it now from Amazon.com

In the end, Chef Reis' outstanding grouper recipe was selected as the winner and Chef Burleson came in second. All of the dishes were absolutely fantastic. Congratulations to the chefs and Alabama Gulf Seafood for another stellar event. I'll post recipes for you in the coming weeks. I hope you'll cook them at home or stop in to visit these fine chefs at their restaurants if you have the opportunity!