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!

EVENTS: 7TH ANNUAL HANGOUT OYSTER COOKOFF

It's that time of year! The 7th Annual Oyster Cookoff is November 7-9 at The Hangout in Gulf Shores, Alabama. This event has become the biggest party of the year for me and is one of my favorite weekends on the Gulf. The weather is perfect, the crowds are gone, and the oysters are in season and absolutely beautiful. Best of all, it is FREE to attend!

Come to the 2014 Hangout Oyster Cookoff November 7th-9th! We kick it off with a Craft Brew Festival on Friday night and wrap it all up with a Sunday brunch. Come hang out with us and enjoy the Gulf at the very best time of the year.

Come to the 2014 Hangout Oyster Cookoff November 7th-9th! We kick it off with a Craft Brew Festival on Friday night and wrap it all up with a Sunday brunch. Come hang out with us and enjoy the Gulf at the very best time of the year.

Come join me for one of the best parties on the beach! The Hangout Oyster Cookoff is a celebration of the season: oysters, football, craft beers, and great friends! And all of this on the world's most beautiful white sugar sand beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Come join me for one of the best parties on the beach! The Hangout Oyster Cookoff is a celebration of the season: oysters, football, craft beers, and great friends! And all of this on the world's most beautiful white sugar sand beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Turquoise Place is always my home away from home on the Gulf Coast. The condos have huge kitchens and each has its own private hot tub on the balcony. AND a grill. AND the most beautiful view of the Gulf you will ever see. Paradise.

Turquoise Place is always my home away from home on the Gulf Coast. The condos have huge kitchens and each has its own private hot tub on the balcony. AND a grill. AND the most beautiful view of the Gulf you will ever see. Paradise.

I've asked my Season 8 Food Network Star friends to come back this year! Come meet Michele Ragussis, Linkie Marais, Nikki Martin, and Ippy Aiona. They will be preparing oysters their way on the BIG GREEN EGG stage beginning at 11:00 am.

I'm also bringing in one of my very favorite chef-friends as co-host for the party of the year... Chef Jason Roberts. You may have seen him recently on the Rachael Ray Show, or on The Chew, or on the Cooking Channel. This guy is one fierce chef! A Kiwi currently living and working in Australia and New York, he donates his time to help No Kid Hungry and has biked hundreds of miles to raise awareness and funds.

Jason and I are hosting a pairing dinner on the beach on Saturday night, November 8th at The Gulf with Ole Smoky Moonshine and New Belgium Beer.  My other Food Network friends will donate a recipe to pair with beer or moonshine. It's going to be a blast. Best of all, we will raise both awareness and funds for No Kid Hungry at a time of the year when they need it most.

For more information: HANGOUTCOOKOFF.COM