The LSU AgCenter LaHouse may have never smelled better.
On a hot, sunny afternoon, nine teams of teenaged cooks faced off to see who would represent Louisiana at the Great American Seafood Cook-off, 4-H Edition, in New Orleans. The cooks were focusing on the lighter side of seafood; each serving had to be less than 500 calories.
The teams were judged on taste, of course, but also were graded on plating, kitchen safety, Louisiana ingredients and on a short presentation they delivered to the judges along with the food.
Vermilion Parish presented Scrumptious Seafood Crepes with Lindsey Palma impressing onlookers with her crepe-flipping skills.
“I’ve loved to cook since I was little,” she said, adding that she cut her teeth on omelets.
That explains the flawless flips.
The team members introduced themselves to the judges en français, appropos for their French dish, and went on to rattle off facts about the history of Louisiana seafood and the economics of shrimping in particular.
St. John Parish’s team made miniature Cajun Crawfish Pies. Andre Lee said the pie filling could also be used as an étouffée. Teammate Amanda Duhe said the pies were a lightened version of a Louisiana favorite with less fat and oil than the traditional recipe.
A panel of five judges selected the winners, chef Tenney Flynn of G.W. Fins restaurant, New Orleans; Nina Camacho, of Jazzmen Rice; Greg Gaudin, retired from General Mills and a past winner of the Memphis in May barbecue contest; A.J. Sabine of the Farm Bureau and “This Week in Louisiana Agriculture”; and chef Fred Heurtin, corporate chef at Golden State Foods.
Pointe Coupee Parish’s team won the event with its Louisiana Seafood Appetizer Medley, shrimp and corn bisque with crawfish cakes. It will go on to the cook-off in New Orleans and will also work with Flynn on tweaking its recipe and presentation.