NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board crowned Mississippi Chef Austin Sumrall from White Pillars Restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi, as the 2021 King of American Seafood after winning the Great American Seafood Cook-Off on Saturday, Aug. 7. The 17th annual event was held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans in conjunction with the Louisiana Restaurant Association Expo.
Chef Austin Sumrall prepared a Gulf Snapper Three Ways for the judges. “We took snapper and prepared it three different ways,” said Mississippi Chef Austin Sumrall from White Pillars Restaurant in Biloxi. “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.”
“We enjoy hosting the best chefs in the country to battle for the coveted title of King or Queen of American Seafood. Our congratulations to Mississippi chef Austin Sumrall for beating out a tough lineup of competitors to take home the crown 2021 King of American Seafood,” said Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy 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.”
“Our restaurant is literally across the street from the Gulf of Mexico and every bit of seafood we serve is all gulf seafood because we feel like we would be cheating on the gulf if we didn’t,” said Mississippi Chef Austin Sumrall, 2021 King of American Seafood. “We have this awesome plethora of beautiful seafood that available to us and to be able to do something like this, we have a very seafood focused restaurant. We love doing it, we love competing, we love being able to showcase it, and we love being here for Mississippi for sure.”
Coming in second place was Massachusetts Chef Denise Herrera with Red Heat Tavern in Boston with her dish “Taste of the Cape” – Clam Chowder, Fish and Chips, and Lobster Roll. Montana Chef Tory McPhail from Revelry Plate + Pour in Bozeman (formerly with Commander’s Palace in New Orleans) took third with his Pine Smoked Flathead Lake Trout.
Judging the dishes for the 2021 Great American Seafood Cook-Off were Chef Lee Gregory, a three-time James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist and co-owner and chef at Southbound in Bon Air, Virginia; Chef Lionel Uppida, 2017 King of American Seafood and owner of Red Spruce Eatery in Juneau, Alaska; Chef David Bancroft, Executive Chef/Partner of Acre Restaurant and Bow & Arrow BBQ in Auburn, Alabama; and Chef Gena Berry, founder of Culinary Works providing food styling for motion pictures, network TV, and commercials.
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
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 (2 teams), Tennessee (2 teams), and Texas are competing.
For more information on the competition, visit www.louisianaseafood.com/great-american-seafood-cook.