Release Date: 07/17/2007

Top chefs representing 20 American states will gather in New Orleans on Aug. 4 and 5 to compete in the 2007 Great American Seafood Cook-Off presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco asked her fellow governors to appoint an executive chef and an assistant to represent his or her state in the competition.  To date, 18 states have replied:  Alabama, Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wyoming.

A chef will also compete on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the lead sponsor of the Cook-Off.

"The Great American Seafood Cook-Off has grown in popularity each year and we're thrilled to be a part of this meaningful event," said Bill Hogarth of NOAA. "Through their participation, each of these chefs will help raise awareness of the importance of cooking with domestic seafood and they will also encourage the use of products from sustainable fisheries."

On Saturday, Aug. 4, all participating chefs will be invited to create elaborate dishes using domestic seafood.  "Saturday the chefs will produce dishes that best display their incredible talents and creativity," said Ewell Smith, executive producer of the Cook-Off and executive director of the Lousiana Seafood Board.

On Sunday, Aug. 5, a first-ever day two of the Cook-Off will be open to the public and tickets will be sold on site.  Smith explained, "The top finishers from day one will be tasked with creating dishes that home chefs can easily replicate.  They'll be judged on taste and creativity and also on ease of preparation."

On day three, Monday Aug. 6, the seafood board is hosting the Louisiana Alligator Soiree - also open to the public.  Louisiana Culinary Schools will take center stage as they create stews, saute's, and other delectable dishes with Louisiana alligator, one of the healthiest meats on the market.  There will be an audience participation component.

A team of notables from the culinary world will judge the event, which will occur at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during the Louisiana Foodservice Expo. 

Tickets for day two and three will be sold at the door and proceeds will be split evenly between the Back to the Dock program, which aids fishermen as they rebuild after the 2005 hurricanes, and the Louisiana Restaurant Association's Education Foundation that provides scholarships to up and coming culinary students.

Current sponsors include NOAA, Shell Oil, Tabasco, Southwest Cargo, Whole Foods Market, McCormick, National Fisheries Institute, Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Texas Shrimp, Maryland Seafood, Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, Coastal Living Magazine, Seafood Business Magazine, Wild Catch Magazine, Louisiana Cookin' Magazine, Culinary Concierge Magazine, Loubat Food Service Equipment, Louisiana Restaurant Association and Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board.

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For more information, contact Sara-Ann Harris at 504-283-8292 or