A Weekend of Seafood Festivals

The approach of warm temperatures means many things on the Gulf Coast: festival season, the height of seafood season, and storm season. This past weekend, all three went hand-in-hand as G.U.L.F. was hard at work spreading the message of sustainable seafood across the Gulf Coast.

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In our own back yard was New Orleans Oyster Festival. Located just outside of the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in Woldenberg Park, this two day event highlights everyone’s favorite edible bivalve. Restaurants, bands, and festival-goers braved the rain for a chance to celebrate the heritage of oystering in Louisiana, and of course to try as many different preparations as possible. John got in on the action early, and was so excited about the oyster pie from Borgne that he wasn’t willing to share it with anyone…not even Instagram.

What would a festival be without some competition? Judges looked for the world’s largest oyster, oyster shuckers went head-to-head to determine who was the best in town, and the age old question of how many oysters can one person eat in 8 minutes was answered…and the answer is 40 dozen (480).

 

 

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Simultaneously, Mississippi was celebrating their seafood heritage at the Blessing of the Fleet. As in Alabama, commercial and recreational vessels decorate and line up to be blessed by a priest for safe ventures and bountiful harvest from the Gulf of Mexico. The parade through Biloxi Channel was similar to that through Bayou La Batre. However an added celebration is now part of the 85-year-old tradition: the Mississippi Seafood Cook-off.

 

 

Five chefs showcased the variety of seafood Mississippi has to offer, as each dish featured a different species.  Judges had the pleasure of sampling innovative and creative dishes that featured mahi-mahi, Tripletail,  Mississippi redfish, speckled trout,  Mississippi shrimp, and flounder. Competition was fierce but in the end Gary Hawkins from 1908 Provisions  in Jackson took home the crown, though he was kind enough to share it with Laura and Ashford.  He will take on Aaron Burgau who won the Louisiana Seafood Cook-off, and other chefs from around the country in the Great American Seafood Cook-off on August 2.

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