Release Date: 07/31/2007

Seafood lovers, home cooks, and everyone looking to have a good time are invited to three days of cooking contests at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on Aug. 4-6, 2007.

Saturday, Aug. 4 - Day 1, 11:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Twenty of America's top seafood chefs will compete in the 2007 Great American Seafood Cook-Off presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco challenged her fellow governors to appoint an executive chef to represent his or her state in the competition. Eighteen states accepted the challenge: 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).

Bill Hogarth of NOAA, the primary sponsor for the event, said, "We're thrilled to be a part of this meaningful event. 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."

A team of notables from the culinary world will judge the day's event and keep the results secret until Day 2.

Sunday, Aug. 5 - Day 2, noon - 4 p.m.  On Day 2 of the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, the six top-scoring chefs from Day 1 will be announced.  They will take on their second challenge, which will focus on quick and easy to prepare seafood meals that families can do in their home kitchen.  They'll be judged on taste, creativity and ease of preparation.

"We frequently get requests from home cooks who are juggling careers and families for simple seafood recipes," said LSPMB Executive Director Ewell Smith. "Day 2 is one of the ways we want to address this growing need."

By the end of the afternoon, in a grand finale, only one chef will be crowned 2007 King or Queen of American Seafood.

Monday, Aug. 6 - Day 3, 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.  The seafood board is hosting the inaugural Louisiana Alligator Soir?  Student teams from Louisiana culinary schools will take the stage to stew, saut?and stir up delectable dishes with Louisiana alligator, one of the healthiest meats on the market.  They will begin with a mystery package of ingredients and be allowed to shop on site at the Whole Foods Market.  Judges will award the winning team a trophy.

Each day tickets will be sold on site at Halls I and J (the halls furthest from Canal St.).  Attendees should look for the signage for the cooking contests.  The contests take place inside the Louisiana Foodservice Expo, but in a roped-off area.

The entrance fees are $25 for a single day, $40 for two days and $50 for all three days.  Admittance is to cooking competitions only. 

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, Michelob Light, Shell Oil, Southwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines Cargo, Whole Foods Market, Wild American Shrimp, Old Bay, National Fisheries Institute, Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Texas Shrimp, Maryland Seafood, Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, Mississippi Seafood Marketing Program, Coastal Living Magazine, Seafood Business Magazine, Wild Catch Magazine, Louisiana Cookin' Magazine, Culinary Concierge Magazine, Loubat Food Service Equipment, Savvy Gourmet, Louisiana Restaurant Association and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board.

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