Grant County Duo Heads to National Culinary Competition in New Orleans
Ed Fischer and Michael Reel of North Fork Mountain Inn, located in Cabins, WV will represent The Mountain State for the third year in a row at the eighth-annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans on Saturday, August 6. Fischer is among more than a dozen chefs from across the nation who will vie for the title of King or Queen of American Seafood at the annual competition. Ed was nominated by West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
“The Great American Seafood Cook Off serves as valuable platform to raise awareness of the domestic fishing industry and highlights importance of maintaining sustainable fisheries today and for generations to come,” said Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, which produces the Cook Off. “We are thrilled that Mr. Fischer and Mr. Reel and other talented chefs from across the nation are joining us to showcase the array of seafood that comes from American coasts, rivers and lakes.”
John Folse, the chef known as Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World, will co-host the Great American Seafood Cook-Off with Kevin Roberts, a chef and restaurant owner from Southern California who acts as host for BBQ Pitmasters on TLC.
NOAA’s Fisheries Service is the event’s chief sponsor and uses the cook-off to highlight – to American seafood consumers – the agency’s commitment to a healthy marine environment and improving the nation’s domestic seafood supply.
“At NOAA, we emphasize that U.S. seafood is healthy, safe, and good for you,” said Eric Schwaab, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator. “Events such as the annual Seafood Cook-off are a terrific way to bring that message right to the public, especially those folks interested in new and creative ways to prepare seafood.”
Now in its eighth year, the Great American Seafood Cook-Off has become the most prestigious culinary seafood competition and has featured many ‘rising stars’ and celebrity chefs over the years. The event emphasizes the importance of cooking with domestic seafood and encourages the use of products from sustainable fisheries.
“Each year the Great American Seafood Cook Off is a fun event that highlights domestic seafood,” said Ewell Smith, executive producer of the Cook-Off and executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. “More than ever before, we need to remind Americans to demand domestic seafood at restaurants and at markets, in order to support American fishermen and local economies.”
For the Cook Off in New Orleans, Fischer plans to showcase West Virginia golden trout from local hatcheries, improving upon his entry from last year by incorporating West Virginia wines and other local ingredients like ramps and morel mushrooms. His sous chef, Michael Reel, is a local culinary star that specializes in hot pepper sauces and wine reductions. He commented that we are very excited to feature several new ingredients including a “Sweet Mountain Spice wine reduction” from nearby West-Whitehill Winery.
“I’m very excited about returning to New Orleans with high hopes of improving on last year’s results,” Fischer said. “I’m especially proud to participate in a competition that showcases regional seafood and produce and I always fill my kitchen with local, fresh ingredients order to reduce my carbon footprint and support the local economy.”
A rising star in West Virginia’s culinary arena, Chef Fischer left a corporate career in sales and marketing in Indianapolis in 2006 to purchase and run the North Fork Mountain Inn with his wife Carol. Fischer’s rustic cuisine, which features locally grown ingredients, has become a main attraction at the 10-room inn, a property recognized by Select Registry/Distinguished Inns of North America and featured in Washingtonian Magazine’s Top Summer and Fall Getaways issues.
Fischer worked as a chef during his college years, but never received formal culinary training. He credits his skills to the techniques he learned from his German grandmother and later honed while preparing meals for large groups. He is a French-trained master sommelier, with certification from Gevrey Chambertin in France’s beloved Burgundy wine region.
The Great American Seafood Cook Off will take place on Saturday, August 6 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans during the Louisiana Foodservice Expo. The Cook-Off is open to the public and tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door. Opening ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m. and closing ceremonies will be at 4:30 p.m. Participating chefs will create unique dishes with domestic seafood, and utilize fish that’s native to their home state.
Prior winners of the Great American Seafood Cook Off include Dean Max of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans; John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, MS; Tim Thomas of the Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, GA; Justin Timineri, Executive Chef for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Randy Evans of Brennan’s of Houston, and John Besh of Restaurant August in New Orleans.
Great American Seafood Cook Off sponsors include NOAA and FishWatch, Loubat Food Service Equipment, The Louisiana Restaurant Association, LouisianaTravel.com, Michelob Brewing Company, Southwest Cargo, Tabasco, and Whole Foods Market. The event also receives support from the National Fisheries Institute, Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Jones Seafood Solutions, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. A special thanks also to media sponsors, Culinary Concierge, Gulfscapes Magazine, Louisiana Cookin’ and Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
For more information, visit online at www.GreatAmericanSeafoodCookoff.com.