Meet America’s seafood queen, crowned Saturday in New Orleans | Where NOLA eats
Grilled shrimp, roasted vegetables and 14 chefs from around the United States chopped and rushed to their stations on Saturday during the Great American seafood cuisine in New Orleans. Each of the culinary masters had only 30 minutes to produce a seafood dish worthy of a royal title.
It was the main attraction at the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 18th Annual Showcase for dozens of vendors touting their wares and services, and drew hundreds to watch chefs from 14 states compete at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
After sampling each entry, the judges crowned Erin Miller as America’s Seafood Queen. Miller, who runs Urban Hearth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, made a dish called Cape Ann Tide Pool, complete with a consommé of lobster tails and dune rose pits. The winning creation included cream of scallops with corn and a stir-fry of soft margarine, corn, mussels and scallops, finished with a butter-poached lobster tail and scallops with sea beans.
Samantha Carroll, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, said the chefs were the most “competitive and skilled” in the kitchen’s history. Many have come to town to sample New Orleans restaurants for inspiration, she said.
Amanda Cusey, a Lake Charles who represented Louisiana, entered the competition by winning the state seafood contest in June in Lafayette. Cusey trained at Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey, England, before moving to Lake Charles, where she is executive chef at Villa Harlequin.
Jon Renthrope, owner of Cajun Fire Brewing Co. in New Orleans East, was a salesman at the show and said it was an opportunity for potential buyers of his craft beer. He called the cook a “mecca of food”.
Tiger Frazer of New Orleans said he came to celebrate “the championship and the food.” Frazer cooks for Fat Harry’s bar at the annual Hogs for the Cause fundraiser, and he came to the convention center dressed in white linen, ready to stroll Julia Street later in the day for the White art event Linen Light.
Only New Orleans could offer two such events on the same day, he said: “It’s just powerful. You can’t do that anywhere else.