Ed Fischer and Mike Reel captured 4th place at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans held August 6th at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. This event features the top 14 chefs in America each representing their state and using local sustainable seafood. Fischer and Reel created a new recipe utilizing the golden trout, ramps, black morel mushrooms, a Sweet Mountain Spice Wine reduction, and Middle Mountain Mike’s Crazy Hot Mustard. This variation on a traditional egg roll was popular with both the judges and the crowd watching the competition. After presenting to the judges, Mike and Ed shared additional portions with their cheering section giving them a chance to try the “Smoke Hole Canyon Trout Rolls” along with Mike’s special hot peach and mustard sauces.
They arrived in New Orleans on Friday. Part of the weekend activities included serving as guest chefs for lunch at Café Reconcile in New Orleans. Chef Brian Landry, their corporate chef, led the team making a few special dishes for the guests of the Café that day and working with and assisting the students who are a part of the Café Reconcile program. This is a program for at risk youth in the New Orleans area. The youth learn skills in the food service industry and work with several restaurant partners in addition to their primary learning facility.
Later that evening Mike and Ed joined the rest of the chefs, judges, and corporate sponsors for a special reception sponsored by the Louisiana Restaurant Association. A “dine around” at 3 of the Top New Orleans dining establishments was the highlight of the evening. They traveled by bus with a motorcycle police escort to Chef John Besh’s American Sector. The next stop was at the Courtyard Café at the New Orleans Museum of Art where they enjoyed seafood appetizers and fine art. Their last stop was at Dragos Restaurant, famous for their special grilled oysters and seafood.
Saturday’s competition was held at the Convention Center in conjunction with the Louisiana Foodservice Expo. The emcee’s for the Cook-Off were Kevin Roberts, host of the hit show Pitmasters on TLC. He was joined on stage by Louisiana native and culinary extraordinaire, John Folse. Each of the chefs were interviewed by Louisiana PBS, the film producer for the seafood competition which will be broadcast in West Virginia later next year.
That evening, Ed and Mike headed to popular New Orleans hot spots such as the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. After dinner at the “Court of Two Sisters”, the former Governor’s Mansion, they ended the evening enjoying live music with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The next morning they planned to enjoy beignets at Café Du Monde but the line was out the door and around the block so they headed straight to the French Market to find gifts and souvenirs. From there they went to the “Sachmo Festival” held at the former New Orleans Mint. This festival named in honor of Jazz great, Louis Armstrong, attracts the greatest Jazz entertainers from around the world. The chef duo was having so much fun, they almost missed their flight home, arriving just as the airline closed the door.
On their flight home, they traveled with one of the judges from Boston who commented that she scored their entry the highest. When asked by Ed what she liked best about their dish, she remarked, “the Peach Moonshine”, and the Middle Mountain Mike’s Crazy Hot Mustard. Ed knew it would be a hit when one of the judges came over before the competition began and asked to sample the moonshine. The Smoke Hole Canyon, where Ed’s North Fork Mountain Inn is located, is famous for their moonshine. It seems like the “shine” was just as popular as the other local ingredients like the Sweet Mountain Spice Wine reduction from nearby West-Whitehill Winery, the Golden Trout, ramps, and black morel mushrooms.
Mike and Ed would like to extend special thanks to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, West-Whitehill Winery, Delegate Allen Evans, the Spring Run Fish Hatchery, and other local leaders that contributed to their efforts to raise awareness of tourism and great seafood right here in West Virginia. They are very excited about the possibilities of creating a new dish for next year’s competition. Mike Reel will be honing his skills later this month when he serves as one of the “celebrity judges” of the West Virginia Road Kill Cook-Off Competition.