NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board are excited to announce Chef Robert Vasquez of Forks & Corks in Covington will represent Louisiana to face-off against 12 other chefs from around the country to the nation’s ultimate seafood cooking competition. Chef Vasquez is the 2020 King of Louisiana Seafood. Chef Vasquez first fell in love with ingredients and recipe development in his mother’s kitchen. She was his first culinary instructor and also his first real boss when he began his career as a dishwasher in his family’s restaurant where his mother was chef. The flavor profiles he learned under her tutelage remain influential in his cuisine to this day. Chef Vasquez draws on his vast restaurant, catering, and retail experience to bring a fresh culinary experience to the Louisiana Northshore at Forks & Corks in Covington.
The 2021 Great American Seafood Cook-Off will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on Saturday, August 7. The 17th annual event gets underway with Opening Ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. as 13 chefs, each representing their home state or territory, cook in front of a live audience and a panel of nationally acclaimed judges.
“Following a challenging year for all of us, the Great American Seafood Cook-Off is the perfect stage to celebrate Louisiana and America’s domestic seafood industry – the best in the world,” said Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “This year we are excited to welcome a very talented field of chefs from all over the country vying to be crowned the next ‘King or Queen of American Seafood’ right here in New Orleans. Each chef will be showcasing their skills with domestic seafood to present the best seafood dishes.”
The 2021 Great American Seafood Cook-Off competitors are:
- Chef Scott Simpson; The Depot, Auburn, AL
- Chef Wes Choy; Alyseka Resort Kitchens; Girdwood, AK
- Chef Edgar Teran; Someburros Restaurant; Phoenix, AZ
- Chef Jordan Scott; Perdido Key Breakfast Club; Pensacola, FL
- Chef Peter Duenas; Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro; Hagatna, Guam
- Chef Robert Vasquez; Forks & Corks; Covington, LA
- Chef Leon Vuong; Seven Seas Food & Company; Portland, ME
- Chef Denise Herrera; Red Heat Tavern; Boston, MA
- Chef Austin Sumrall; White Pillars Restaurant; Biloxi, MS
- Chef Tory McPhail; Revelry Plate + Pour; Bozeman, MT
- Chef Jackie Paige; Love Rocks Café; McKees Rocks, PA
- Chef Nicholas Huckabee; A Difference in Dining; Myrtle Beach, SC
- Chef Jesse Cavazos; Nick’s Fish Dive + Oyster Bar; The Woodlands, TX
During the competition, each chef will prepare a dish highlighting the use of domestic seafood while interacting with the live audience, celebrity hosts Chef Cory Bahr – Food Network Star Finalist, Food Network Chopped! Champion, and a former King of Louisiana Seafood – and KLFY TV10’s Gerald Gruenig, and “chef ref” Chef Michael Brewer, also a former King of Louisiana Seafood. Each dish will be presented to a panel of nationally renowned judges who will score based on presentation, creativity, composition, craftsmanship, and flavor. The Great American Seafood Cook-Off promotes the quality and variety of domestic seafood found in the United States.
To be eligible to compete in the event, chefs must either hold the current title of King or Queen of Seafood or be appointed by the lieutenant governor of their respective state or territory. The reigning King of American Seafood, Louisiana’s Chef Nathan Richard of Cuvée Wine Bar & Bistro, won the title with his dish of “Cracklin-crusted” Red Snapper with pickled crawfish tails, buttermilk chili consommé, spring vegetables, burnt leek oil, fermented cream, and bowfin caviar, knocking out 11 of the nation’s best chefs.
The event is held in conjunction with the Louisiana Restaurant Association Foodservice Expo. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Previous winners of the Great American Seafood Cook-Off include:
- 2019: Nathan Richard, Louisiana
- 2018: Ryan Trahan, Louisiana
- 2017: Lionel Uddipa, Alaska
- 2016: Alex Eaton, Mississippi
- 2015: Beau Schooler, Alaska
- 2014: Terry White, Florida
- 2013: David Crews, Mississippi
- 2012: Gregory Gourdet, Oregon
- 2011: Jim Smith, Alabama
- 2010: Dean Max, Florida
- 2009: Tory McPhail, Louisiana
- 2008: John Currence, Mississippi
- 2007: Tim Thomas, Georgia
- 2006: Justin Timineri, Florida
- 2005: Randy Evans, Texas
For more information on the competition, visit www.louisianaseafood.com/great-american-seafood-cook.
Following the crowning of the 2021 King or Queen of American Seafood on Aug. 7, a news release with a link to video and pictures of the event will be distributed.