Miss. chef wins Great American Seafood Cook-off in N.O.

The chef representing Mississippi won the 10th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off on Saturday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans with his take on a classic French dish.

“Simple is sometimes best,” David Crews, 32, said of his dish shortly after being crowned the 10th King of American Seafood.

Crews’ Southern Ni├žoise Salad is based on the French salad that includes tomatoes, tuna, black olives, garlic, anchovies, green beans, onions and hard-cooked eggs.

He added some Mississippi touches, including tuna crusted with pork rind and potato-crusted lump crabmeat. The dish also included heirloom cherry tomatoes, puffed pork skins and poached eggs.

Fifteen chefs, using domestic seafood from their home statess, competed in the event sponsored by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. The cook-Off opening ceremonies began at 11:30 a.m. and the competition ended five hours later when the winner was announced.

Chef Gregory Gourdet, of Portland, Ore., the 2012 winner, put the king’s crown on Crews’ head.

Crews is executive chef at Six-Shooter Land & Timber Co., a private land management and hunting lodge just north of Drew, Miss., and a culinary instructor at Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead, Miss.

He was assisted by Jeffrey Ferrell, chef de cuisine at City Grocery in Oxford, Miss. City Grocery’s executive chef John Currence, who won the seafood cook-off in 2008, joined Crews and Ferrell on the stage after the winner was announced to congratulate them.

Chef Eric Stumpf, of Corn Maiden Restaurant in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., won second place for his dish, Sweet Corn-Crusted New Mexico Brown Trout, Market Vegetables and “Hatch” Chili Duo. Third place went to chef Christopher Albrecht, of Eno Terra in Kingston, N.J., for his Golden Tilefish and Green Vegetable Chowder.

In addition to Crews, Stumpf and Albrecht, those participating in the competition included Executive Chef Cody Carroll, of Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads, and chefs from Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas.

The chefs competed at cooking stations under their state flags set up in front of bleachers filled with their family members and attendees at the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 60th annual Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality Expo.

Judges were Aizabela Wojcik, director of programming for the James Beard Foundation; Scott Hocker, editor in chef of Tasting Table; Joshua Lawler, executive chef at The Farm & Fisherman in Philadelphia; Katie Ayoub, managing editor of Flavor & the Menu; Derrick Davenport, CECP enlisted aide to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Eric Garynowicz, executive chef of Restaurant North in Armonk, N.Y.