N.J. seafood chef to battle for 'America's best' title

Release Date: 
Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MONTCLAIR - A township chef will be representing New Jersey in a claws-out contest this weekend that will name America's best seafood chef.

Bryan Gregg, the owner and chef at Escape in Montclair, won his way in to the 12th Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off, happening this weekend in Louisiana. Each year, seafood chefs from across the country compete on behalf of their states to see who can dish up the tastiest seafood meal.

"The really cool thing about this competition is that (all of the chefs) are using seafood from their own state," said Jacques Berry, the communications director for the Office of Louisianna Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne.

"It's a great way for chefs to showcase their local seafood in an event that's becoming the most prestigious seafood event in America."

Though the contest is open to all states that want to compete, Berry said it generally attracts entrants from coastal states. Only one chef can represent each state entered in the contest, and the representatives are chosen either through a statewide competition, or an appointment from the state's governor, he said.

This year, 12 chefs will be competing for the title. The others are from Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas.

Gregg won his way in via the 2015 Jersey Seafood Challenge held at Viking Village in Barnegat Light last week.

"It means so much to me to have the opportunity to represent New Jersey in New Orleans at the national competition," Gregg said of his win.

"New Jersey is unlike any other state when it comes to the quality and variety of seafood and produce available to us."

Gregg should be comfortable in the local seafood contest, as his restaurant, Escape, is a "farm-to-table" establishment, and the chef describes himself as one of the leaders of the state's local food movement.

The competition is funded by a federal grant, but administered by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. Six seafood pros will serve as the judges, and up for grabs are bragging rights not only for the chef, but for the entire state.

Gregg "will proudly represent our state...and demonstrate to the country that New Jersey's seafood and the chefs that prepare it are top notch," the state's Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Alfred Murray said in a statement.

Though chefs from the Garden State have competed before, none have taken home the prestigious silver platter awarded to the winner of the national contest.

Gregg said in a statement that this year, N.J. is going to bring a lot to the table.

"I feel confident that we'll show people outside of Jersey what we can do in the kitchen," he said.

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Get in touch

Louisiana Seafood Promotion &
Marketing Board
1051 N. Third St., 3rd Floor
Baton Rouge, La. 70802
Call: 225.342.0552
Email: jburas@crt.la.gov