Vidalia chef set to compete in state-wide seafood cook-off

The 16th annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off will be held at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.
The 16th annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off will be held at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.(
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 11:38 AM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2023 at 1:51 PM CDT
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VIDALIA, La. (KNOE) - One man is putting Vidalia on the map as he becomes the first chef to represent the NELA city in Louisiana’s seafood cook-off.

The 16th annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off is happening on Tuesday, June 27, in Lake Charles. Among the 12 competing chefs, one of them is from Vidalia, which is a first in the competition. Ashley Allen, executive chef at Coconuts Bar and Grill in Vidalia, will be showing off his culinary skills and competing for the title of King of Louisiana Seafood.

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser said the competition represents an integral part of Louisiana culture, and that would be our deep ties to food.

“Every year it gets tougher to choose just 12 chefs from all the outstanding applications we receive. That shows the incredible level of culinary talent we have in Louisiana. Our food connects us to our heritage, and Louisiana seafood is a huge part of that connection,” Nungesser said. “The majority of the chefs competing through the years learned to cook in their parent’s kitchens. It’s no different with this year’s chefs. I’m not only looking forward to seeing the amazing culinary creations our chefs serve the judges, but I’m excited to hold this competition in Lake Charles for the first time, the home of our reigning Queen of Louisiana Seafood Chef Amanda Cusey.”

To qualify for the competition, a chef must be the executive chef of a free-standing Louisiana restaurant belonging to the Louisiana Restaurant Association. LRA is a partner of both Louisiana and Great American Seafood Cook-Offs.

Whoever earns the title of King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood will have the opportunity to represent the state at numerous events including the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, which is hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and will be held in New Orleans during the LRA Showcase on Aug. 5.

The following chefs were chosen to compete in the competition:

  • Ashley Allen, Executive Chef, Coconuts Bar and Grill; Vidalia
  • Stephen Coblentz, Executive Chef, Charthouse; Lake Charles
  • Ben Fidelak, Executive Chef/Owner, Mariner’s Restaurant; Natchitoches
  • Dustin Frederick, Chef, Restaurant Calla; Lake Charles
  • Greg Gizzaffi, Executive Chef, Landry’s Seafood House; Lake Charles
  • Owen Hohl, Chef, Hot Tails; New Roads & Prairieville
  • Blake Jackson, Executive Chef, Drake Foods LLC – Looosiana Seafood Market, Drake Catering, Whisk Dessert Bar; Shreveport
  • Brett Monteleone, The Overpass Merchant; Baton Rouge
  • Chris Motto, Executive Chef, Jubans; Baton Rouge
  • Chad Phares, Executive Chef, Hurricane Hole; Grand Isle
  • Amy Sins, Chef, Langlois; New Orleans
  • Christopher Vazquez, Executive Chef, Redfish Grill; New Orleans