Food & Drink

Nine compete at Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off in Gulfport

GULFPORT -- Three Gulf Coast chefs were among the nine who gathered to display their culinary skill and demonstrate why they should be named king or queen of Mississippi seafood.

Café Climb hosted the 7th Annual Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off Thursday at their local facility in Gulfport.

Chef David Dickensauge, of Corks and Cleaver in Gulfport, won third place for his rendition of Cornmeal-crusted Soft Shell Crab. The crispy delight was served with a tangy Hot Mustard Potato Salad Risotto, bright Seafood Gumbo Consommé and a Seafood Boil Emulsion with a kick.

As Dickensauge cooked, he said he was using fresh-molted soft-shell crab that was caught that morning, and then he took potato salad put it in risotto put it in the south.

"In South Louisiana some people eat potato salad, some people eat rice. So we mix the two together, to marry it, to make be something that everybody in the South can understand," he said.

Andy Kimbrell, of Bacchus on the Beach in Pass Christian, and Dannie Rodriguez, of Lunch in Biloxi, also competed.

Chef Alex Eaton, of The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen in Jackson, was named King of Mississippi Seafood.

Eaton prepared an imaginative Snapper Collar with meaty Colossal Shrimp, Gulf Crab, aromatic Roasted Fennel, and Pickled Ramps and Lemon Garlic Broth.

Eaton demystified his unusual dish with a backstory.

"I'm cooking kind of what you would find in the docks here on the Coast. The fisherman are out there their selling their fillets ... and what are they left with ... they're left with the heads. I'm taking the head and getting to throwing out the collar that's what the fishermen eat."

Eaton will go on to represent Mississippi in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off.

Chef Jesse Houston, of Saltine Oyster Bar in Jackson, won second place with his unique Chawanmushi or Japan-Style Crab Custard.

He said Chawanmushi is just stock and eggs that are steamed.

"It's really a delicate light texture, but the inspiration sort of comes from my story of growing up. I was actually born in California. We would go to the beach and we would climb up on the tide pool and it's really the sense of being at the ocean so I'm trying to bring that and incorporate that into this dish and really make it feel like you've been to the ocean when you're having my dish."

Houston used Gulf seawater that they boiled and clarified to steam some of their fish and they seasoned it with Gulf sea salts.

Also competing were Ryan Bell of Hal & Mal's, and Mike Roemhild of Table 100, both from Jackson, as well as John Fitzgerald of Restaurant Tyler in Starkville and Hunter Pugh of Delta Meat Market in Cleveland,