(08/08/19) NEW ORLEANS — A Tennessee team’s flounder with seafood dressing placed first at the ninth annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off: 4-H Edition in New Orleans on Aug. 4.
The cooking team from Marion County, Tennessee, included Evan England, Griffin Atkins, Payne Bumpus and Bryson Kilgore with Carson Keeler as the alternate.
Members of the southeastern Tennessee team said they are not usually known for their seafood, but they worked hard to perfect their dish.
Vicky Lofty, the Marion County 4-H agent, said they competed last year but didn’t win. So they came back this year to show what they learned.
“We knew what it took to win after being here last year,” Lofty said. “First, we had the determination, but then you throw in the taste — that dish is delicious.”
The seven teams competing this year at the Morial Convention Center included 4-H’ers from Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, which had two teams.
The second-place team in the annual 4-H competition was Tom Green County 4-H, one of the two Texas teams.
The Louisiana team from Pointe Coupee Parish rounded out the top three of this year’s competition with their dish of crawfish cakes over Louisiana toasted pecan salad.
Brandi Frey, the 4-H agent in Pointe Coupee Parish, said preparing for the competition is a group effort that requires all hands on deck.
“We got help from the nutrition agent to keep the calories within range, and we used our county agent to make sure we stayed with local products,” she said.
States are allowed to register one or two teams, with up to 10 teams allowed in the competition each year.
The rules allow from two to four team members, who are given one hour to complete their dish and present it to the judges.
The first place team takes home $1,000 in prize money provided by the Louisiana 4-H Foundation. Each team receives a $500 stipend to assist with their travel and competition costs.
Ashley Powell, AgCenter 4-H regional coordinator, said the competition in Louisiana involves winning the Next Healthy Food Star competition at 4-H University.
“Each state goes about choosing their team differently,” she said. “I think most of the teams have gone through some type of competition to get here to the Southern regional competition.”
Esther Boe, AgCenter 4-H regional coordinator, said the Louisiana team used three local commodities in their dish, which included crawfish, pecans and strawberries.
“I think the pecans made the dish at the state level for them,” she said “The judges were really impressed with the way that the kids roasted the pecans.”
The seafood recipes the teams prepared have to be 750 or fewer calories per serving, which can prove to be challenging, Boe said.
The goal of the competition is to cook something that’s healthy, which pretty much eliminates having deep-fried foods.
In past years, Oklahoma and Kentucky have also been in the competition.
“Next year will be the 10th year of the competition,” Powell said. “We’re not sure how we will celebrate it yet, but we are sure we’ll do something special.”
The contest is endorsed by the National 4-H Foundation and supports national initiatives of healthy living, science, technology, engineering, math and agriculture.
Winners of the ninth annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off: 4-H Edition in New Orleans are from Marion County, Tennessee, with their flounder with seafood dressing dish. Pictured left to right are Patrick Tuck, executive director of the Louisiana 4-H Foundation, and team members Bryson Kilgore, Evan England, Payne Bumpus, Griffin Adkins and Carson Keeler and Toby Lepley, LSU AgCenter associate vice president for 4-H and youth development. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
The first-place winner at the ninth annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off: 4-H Edition in New Orleans is flounder with seafood dressing, prepared by the Marion County, Tennessee, 4-H team. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
The second-place dish at the ninth annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off: 4-H Edition in New Orleans is from Tom Green County, Texas. Their dish is pecan-crusted redfish with Mexican corn and chipotle prickly pear glaze. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
The third-place dish at the ninth annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off: 4-H Edition in New Orleans is from Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. Their dish is crawfish cakes over toasted pecan salad. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter