Louisiana Seafood Cookoff competition leaving NOLA and heading to Lafayette

(Photo: LEE CELANO/THE ADVERTISER))

The Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off competition has been moved from New Orleans to Lafayette to help stimulate Acadiana’s economy during the oil field slump, according to Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser.

Nungesser says he decided to move the 10th annual cooking competition in part because he used to own an oil field business in Acadiana.

“I’ve been through the ups and downs,” Nungesser said. “An event like this — bringing a little more attention to Lafayette — could make the difference between a restaurant staying open through hard times in the oil industry and not staying open.”

Nungesser discussed the cook-off’s move after a press conference held Friday to reveal the 12 chefs from across the state who will compete at the June 20 event at the Cajundome Convention Center.

Chefs selected to compete in this year’s event include:

  • Ryan Andre of City Pork Brasserie and Bar in Baton Rouge
  • Bonnie Breaux of The St. John Restaurant in St. Martinville
  • Lyle Broussard of Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill in Lake Charles
  • Eric Cook of Bourbon House in New Orleans
  • Anthony Felan of Wine Country Bistro in Shreveport
  • Ben Fidelak of The Levee in Alexandria
  • Austin Kirzner of Red Fish Grill in New Orleans
  • Dustie Latiolais of Crawfish Town USA in Henderson
  • Chris McKnight of The Fat Pelican in Monroe
  • Ernest Prejean of Prejean’s Restaurant in Lafayette
  • Nathan Richard of Cavan in New Orleans
  • Brad Tanner of Cafe Vermilionville in Lafayette

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board will again host the cook-off, but instead of partnering with the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, the cook-off will be held in conjunction with the Taste of Eat Lafayette event.

“New Orleans wasn’t happy about it,” Nungesser said with a chuckle during the press conference. “But they’ll get over it.”

This will be the first time in 13 years that people can purchase tickets to the Taste of Eat Lafayette. Tickets were only available through giveaways from restaurants and sponsors before.

About 1,000 tickets will still be available through giveaways, and another 1,500 tickets will be available for purchase.

A $20 ticket allows you to sample cuisine from 60 locally owned restaurants while watching chefs compete in the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off. The winning chef will be crowned king or queen during the event and spend a year representing Louisiana seafood at national and international events.

“It’s super exciting to be able to partner with Eat Lafayette,” said Ben Mitchell, assistant director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. “It’s just a win-win that also allows chefs to come in from other parts of the state instead of just New Orleans and the surrounding areas.”

The cook-off could help fill hotel rooms and boost restaurant and retail sales in Acadiana during the event.

But more importantly, the joint event could encourage locals and visitors to make more trips to Lafayette’s locally owned restaurants, according to Ben Berthelot, president and CEO of Lafayette Travel.

“I don’t think it’s really about Lafayette versus New Orleans,” Berthelot said. “But I’ll say that we’re very proud of our food here in Lafayette Parish.”

Purchase tickets to the Taste of Eat Lafayette event at ticketmaster.com or the Cajundome box office. Learn more about the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off by visiting louisianaseafoodcookoff.com.

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