The Louisiana Seafood Cook-off is now in its 10th year. A prestige Culinary Competition that showcases the fresh Louisiana Seafood.

Twelve Chefs from restaurants across the Louisiana area competing for the Title of King/Queen of Louisiana Seafood.  Along with the coveted crown, the winner represents the Louisiana Seafood industry at events throughout the year.  As well as representing Louisiana in this year’s Great American Seafood Cook-off.

Michael DeMocker, Nola.com

The 2016 Champion is Blake Phillips. Blake is from Monroe, LA.  He is a culinary graduate from Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, TX.  Working in resorts in Colorado to Fine Dining establishments in New Orleans.  He is currently the executive Chef at Bayou Roux in Monroe, LA.  But his current reign was about to come to an end as a new Champion would be crowned that night.

My husband and I arrived at the Cajun Dome Convention Center for the event early for the VIP early entrance.  As we entered the competition area, I loved the setup.

We began to walk around and check out the different Chefs and their ingredients.  The excitement of the competition was in the air!

The awards and the coveted Crown was on the back table. The crown was stunning!

Each competitor would be given an hour to prepare and plate a Louisiana Seafood recipe. The recipe was submitted beforehand. The Louisiana seafood had to be the main protein in the dish. More than one seafood product could be used.  The Chefs each had an hour to prepare their dishes.

Giving the judges 10 minutes to taste and judge the dishes before the next dish would arrive for tasting.

First up was Chef Eric Cook from Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House.  Chef Eric prepared a Gulf Fish Rissole with Blue Crab. We watched the dish being prepared. The smell of his ingredients were impeccable.

Chef Eric showed great techniques as he worked on different aspects of his dishes.

Then there was Chef Ryan Andre, Executive of City Pork Brasserie and Bar. City Pork Brasserie and Bar is located in Baton Rouge, LA. Chef Ryan prepared a Cantonese Steamed Fish.

Chef Ryan is working hard to find ways to make Baton Rouge a Gastronomic destination.

Next was Chef Lyle Broussard of Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill at L’Auberge Casino Resort. His dish was a Blue Crab Crusted Grouper with Charred Cream Corn Crawfish Grits and Summer Salad.

Chef Bonnie Breaux of The St. John Restaurant in St. Martinville, LA. was now on the clock.  Chef Bonnie’s dish was a Crackling Crusted Black Drum with Fennel Marmalade with Abita Amber Brabant Potatoes, Haricot Vert and Jumbo-Lump Crab.

I loved the plating of her dish. Her dish seemed very complex.  As we watched her prepare the dish step by step, she took great pride in what she was making.  Her assistant was her husband and they worked well as a team.

Another local was next and it was Chef Brad Tanner of Cafe Vermillionville right here in Lafayette, LA.

Chef Brad’s dish was a Sweet Potato Crusted Gulf Snapper Fillet.  Another dish with complex ingredients to compile a great dish.

Next Chef on the clock was Chef Anthony Felan’s.  His dish was a Bistro Blackened Catfish with Crawfish Bisque and Hoe Cakes. Chef Anthony is an Executive Chef at Wine Country Bistro in Shreveport, LA.  He has a strong passion for farm to table awareness.

Local Executive Chef Dustie Latiolas of Crawfish Town USA in Henderson, LA was up next.

Chef Dustie prepared a Wild Louisiana Catfish Roulade with Crab Stuffing, Bacon Braised Collard Greens and Crawfish Etouffee.

About midway through we took a break and walked to the Taste of EatLafayette. There were close to 50 restaurants represented. One of the biggest EatLafayette events I have ever been to.

Being that I am a food blogger and I dine out often, I have tried almost every restaurant that was represented.  But there were a few that really stood out that we had to try.

I am a Dessert’s girl so of course, we headed to Sophi P’s table. The setup is always nice.  Plus I have never had a cupcake from there that I haven’t liked. Yum.

We also stopped by Blu Basil Wine and Grill’s table.  Another place that we really like, The Shrimp Pineapple Fried Rice was delicious.

Picante’s Southwestern Shrimp with rice was superb.

Before heading back, we stopped and chatted with Sea Grant, Louisiana Direct Seafood, Your freshest Catch.  A local company offering fresh seafood that is Locally caught by Local Fisherman.  The information given was very informative.

We mingled a bit and headed back to the competition. When we returned Chef Nathan was in the middle of his cooking.

Nathan Richard is an Executive Chef at Cavan in New Orleans, LA. Chef Nathan uses his experiences to enhance the restaurant’s Southern Coastal Flavors. His dish was a Tuna Piccata with Crab Roe and Caper Butter (pictured above).

Executive Chef Ernest Prejean, of the Iconic Prejean’s Restaurant was ready to go. Chef Ernest also manages the daily operations and recipe development at the restaurant.

Chef Prejean prepared a dish called The Creole Passion pictured above. The dish looked delicious.

Chef Austin Kirzner was the next Chef and his dish was called the Seared Red Snapper with Shrimp Boiled Potato Salad, Soft Shell Crab Bisque and Crackling Crusted Oysters. Chef Austin is an Executive Chef at Robert Brennan’s Red Fish Grill in New Orleans, LA. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of his dish.

The next to prepare a dish was Chef Chris McKnight.  Chef Chris owns and runs The Fat Pelican with his wife Mandi in Monroe, LA.

The dish prepared was called The Mummy Fish, which was a potato wrapped Gulf Grouper.

Last but certainly not least was Chef Ben Fidelak of The Levee Restaurant & Bar. The Levee is located in Downtown Alexandria, LA. Chef Ben prepared Braised Grouper Cheeks with Crabmeat Risotto, Roasted Cipollini Onion and Mango Caviar.

All of the dishes were complete! The Judges were on their last dish. Oh my, anticipation was setting in!

The MC’s were wrapping up and thanking everyone for attending. One of the MC’s, Chef Cory Bahr we recognized. He is a contestant on the current season of Food Network Star. Chef Corey is a Monroe native who is also a previous King of Louisiana Seafood.

Mr. Benjamin Berthelot, the President and CEO of Lafayette Travel thanked the crowd for their attendance and support of the EatLafayette campaign event. Please visit the EatLafayette site for a list of all of the eat Lafayette restaurants at www.EatLafayette.com.

It was almost time for the big announcement. The Lieutenant Governor, Billy Nungesser came to the stage.  He was so thankful for the support at the Louisiana Seafood competition. This was the largest turnout in competition history!  He made the announcement that the Louisiana Seafood Competition would be returning to Lafayette again next year!  Wow. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Oh but that was a big announcement but not as big as what everyone was waiting for.

The 2017 King/Queen of Louisiana Seafood winner is Chef Bonnie Breaux!  Making her the 1st Queen of Louisiana Seafood. Wow!  Historic.

Photo Courtesy of KATC

Once the winner was announced the room was electric as the confetti began to fall! What a wonderful night!

Be sure to go check out Chef Bonnie as she represents the state of Louisiana at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans in August. For more information on this event visit www.greatamericanseafoodcookoff.com.

Thanks to EatLafayette and The Louisiana Seafood Cook-off Committee for having us! We had a good time. See you next year!

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