Mississippi chef crowned King of American Seafood at cook-off competition in New Orleans


NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A new king was crowned at the 2021 Great American Seafood Cook-Off on Saturday. Mississippi chef Austin Sumrall took top honors at the 17th annual event held at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans in conjunction with the Louisiana Restaurant Association Expo.

The newly crowned King of American Seafood, who works at White Pillars Restaurant in Biloxi, Miss., edged Massachusetts Chef Denise Herrera of Red Heat Tavern in Boston. Herrera finished second with her “Taste of the Cape” – Clam Chowder, Fish and Chips, and Lobster Roll. Montana Chef Tory McPhail from Revelry Plate + Pour in Bozeman took third with his Pine Smoked Flathead Lake Trout.

Sumrall won the cook-off with his trio of gulf snapper presentations.

“We took snapper and prepared it three different ways,” said Sumrall. “We did a raw preparation. We grilled some snapper ribs. And, then we did a poached snapper jowl pho. It was a lot and we were down to the absolute wire on getting it accomplished but our plan was to go big or go home.”

Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board were on hand to crown the winner of this year’s event.

“We enjoy hosting the best chefs in the country to battle for the coveted title of King or Queen of American Seafood,” said Lt. Gov. Nungesser.

“Beyond naming the best seafood chef in America, we also get to show off the exceptional quality of Gulf seafood and encourage the competitors to continue or start featuring our products in their restaurants. It truly is a wonderful opportunity to further showcase to the nation all the things in Louisiana that will Feed Your Soul. We are already preparing for next year.”

The Great American Seafood Cook-Off, which is dedicated to promoting sustainable and domestic fisheries, has been held every year in New Orleans since 2004.

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
  • 2004: John Besh, Louisiana

For the ninth year, organizers are joining with 4-H to host a youth cook-off on Sunday, August 8. Youth competitors were required to prepare seafood dishes under 750 calories. Teams from Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas are competing.

For more information on the competition, visit the event’s official website here.

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