By Wendy Waren, LRA VP of Communications
In its 11th year, the Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO) is designed to promote domestic seafood, with chefs from states across the nation competing for the title of King or Queen of American Seafood, Saturday, August 2, 2014 in Hall J at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Produced by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, GASCO is held in conjunction with the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s (LRA) annual Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO.
“GASCO is a great way to let chefs from other states experience Louisiana seafood,” Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne said. “We wish the competitors the best of luck and invite them to take our delicious seafood to their home restaurants.”
The GASCO festivities begin immediately following the EXPO show’s opening at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 2, 2014. A marching band, Mardi Gras Indians and a mini-Mardi Gras parade will proceed across the EXPO show floor to the grand GASCO stages located in Hall J, when an opening ceremony kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Chef Cory Bahr of Cotton and Nonna Restaurants in Monroe is the master of ceremonies for GASCO this year and will be joined during the kick-off by Lt. Governor Dardenne and LRA President/CEO and Gulf seafood industry advocate Stan Harris. Bahr participated in GASCO, representing Louisiana in 2011.
“Having GASCO as part of the LRA’s EXPO demonstrates our industry’s commitment to promoting not only Gulf seafood, but all domestic seafood as a center of the plate staple in Louisiana and beyond,” said Harris.
Among the 18 chefs signed on to compete, Aaron Burgau of Patois Restaurant in New Orleans will represent Louisiana. Burgau won in the preliminary Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off in May at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience with his recipe for Louisiana crawfish and Pappardelle pasta with ramp greens puree and uni butter.
|New Orleans Chef Aaron Burgau of Patois Restaurant|
will represent Louisiana in the Great American Seafood
Cook-Off, Saturday, August 2, an event held in conjunction
with the Louisiana Restaurant Association's annual
Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO.
Burgau recalls the time when he was little when he told his father he didn’t like shrimp. His dad quickly responded to his declaration, “You better learn to love shrimp. It has paid for the clothes on your back and that bicycle you ride around the neighborhood.”
Burgau admittedly doesn’t like to speak in public and he has shied away from the spotlight that comes with culinary competitions. To overcome his nervousness, however, he has been doing more cooking demonstrations and appearances to help him gain confidence and experience. He’ll have 10 minutes to present his dish to the GASCO judges, but with his “keep it simple” mantra, which led to his Louisiana win, he’ll no doubt breeze through the presentation and give the judges plenty of time to taste and comment on his yet undetermined dish.
“I may go fishing Saturday morning and use my fresh catch in my GASCO dish, filet it onsite,” he said jokingly. “No, seriously, I love grouper, so I’ll probably use fresh Gulf grouper and maybe infuse some acidity in the dish with vinaigrette or something.”
Following his Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off win, Chef Frank Brigtsen, who competed in GASCO in 2004, pulled him aside to give him some words of wisdom. Brigtsen advised Burgau to keep the dish light and fresh and consider that with the number of competing chefs the judges may have palate fatigue.”