Today’s retro food story — rather than the new Q&A format — is in honor of the annual cooking competition held last Tuesday in Lafayette. Last year the focus for this reporter was to cheer on the Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel executive chef team. The newness of the competitive live action was exhilarating. This year, cheers and well wishes were still extended to Cypress Bayou’s executive chef Willie Gaspard and his assistant Amanda Wildblood.
In fact, last year’s Cypress Bayou executive chef who has moved onto the Petroleum Club in Morgan City, was there to cheer his friend and former coworker onto victory. Excellent menu, Soft Shell Crab Alexandra with jumbo lump crab and tasso-stuffed soft-shell crab, roasted corn and crawfish cakes with shrimp, crab and crawfish jambalaya sounded mighty tastey, but a unique dish featured below was the winning combination.
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board crowned Chef Nathan Richard of Cavan Restaurant & Bar in New Orleans as the 2019 King of Louisiana Seafood at the 12th annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off. For the third consecutive year, the event was held at the Cajundome Convention Center in conjunction with the Taste of EatLafayette.
To win the crown, Richard prepared Crawfish and Goat Cheese King Cake with Cream Cheese Pepper Jelly, Crab Fat, Sugar, and Cajun Caviar to beat 13 of the state’s best seafood chefs. He showcased international (and Cajun) creativity by highlighting the superior quality of the seafood that comes from Louisiana’s shorelines and vast waterways.
“What an amazing night as we name Chef Nathan Richard as the new King of Louisiana Seafood for 2019,” said Nungesser. “I look forward to working with Chef Richard over the next year as he represents the state at events across the country, including the Great American Seafood Cook-Off. This is going to be an exciting year for Louisiana as we showcase our fresh, Gulf seafood to the country and world.”
The first duty for the 2019 King of Louisiana Seafood is to prepare to represent the state in the 16th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans Aug. 3. Richard will be defending the title “King of American Seafood” currently held by Chef Ryan Trahan of the Blue Dog Café in Lafayette.
“It’s awesome. It’s my third time competing and I’m glad I got the chance to do it and bring home the crown to New Orleans,” said Richard after being crowned. “We did a Crawfish King Cake. It’s not your mom’s King Cake but it’s a play on one where we took a little bit of cinnamon roll dough, a little crawfish, dehydrated crab fat and finished it off with a pepper jelly cream cheese.”
Chef Devan Giddix of Bourbon House in New Orleans was named second place winner, preparing Bronzed Snapper with Crab and Corn Risotto, Creole Tomato and Peach Relish with Smoked Tomato Butter. Closely behind was third place winner Chef Justin Componation of Parish Restaurant & Bar in Monroe with his Gulf Fish Kinilaw with Togarashi Popped Sorghum.
Each dish was scrutinized by some of Louisiana’s most seasoned chefs and food lovers, including owner of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant Tommy Cvitanovich; Chef Jay Ducote of the Bite and Booze radio show and Gov’t Taco; Jason “The Cajun Ninja” Derouen, Facebook and YouTube cooking sensation and president of Cajun Ninja Products; Tammi Arender, anchor of KNOE’s 5 o’clock news in Monroe and producer of a segment titled “Feed Your Soul;” and, Susan Ford who formed Our Kitchen & Culture LLC, launching Louisiana Recipes magazine in 2011 and Louisiana Kitchen & Culture magazine in 2012. The 2015 King of Louisiana Seafood, Mike Brewer, served again as “Chef Ref,” ensuring each of the competing chefs followed all cook-off rules —and the dishes fulfilled all requirements.
The competitors for the 2019 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off were:
Chef Justin Componation; Parish Restaurant & Bar; Monroe
Chef Jeremy Conner; Spoonbill Watering Hole & Restaurant; Lafayette
Chef Wayne Cooper; The Panini Bistro; Hammond
Chef Willie Gaspard; Cypress Bayou Casino & Hotel; Charenton
Chef Devan Giddix; Dickie Brennan’s; New Orleans
Chef Marc Krampe; Social Southern Table & Bar; Lafayette
Chef Johnnie Landry; The Little Big Cup; Arnaudville
Chef Brody Leblanc; Borgne; New Orleans,
Chef Larry Mannheimer; Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse; Lake Charles
Chef Jerry Mixon; Café Amelie; New Orleans
Chef Chris Motto; Mansurs on the Boulevard; Baton Rouge
Chef Nathan Richard; Cavan Restaurant & Bar; New Orleans
Chef Quintin Scrantz; Prejean’s Restaurant; Lafayette
Chef Amy Sins; Langlois; New Orleans