Louisiana Seafood News
Louisiana Seafood News

Barnegat Light Scallops Headed for National Cook-Off

Barnegat Light scallops starred in the winning dish in a statewide seafood cooking contest and will now go national. The 2015 Jersey Seafood Challenge, held at Viking Village dock in Barnegat Light June 25, pitted top chefs from around the state. The contest is coordinated by the N.J. Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Chapters of the American Culinary Federation.

On hand was New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Alfred Murray to declare the winner, Chef Bryan Gregg of Escape Montclair in Montclair. His signature dish, Barnegat Light Scallops, Creamless Creamed Corn and Jersey Chanterelles, had been chosen by a panel of judges. Chef Gregg will be New Jersey’s official representative at the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans on Aug. 8.

“Congratulations to Chef Gregg, who will proudly represent our state at the national competition and demonstrate to the country that New Jersey’s seafood and the chefs that prepare it are top notch,” said Murray. “Our state’s commercial fishermen and aquatic farmers catch and grow superior quality, sustainable seafood. Thank you to all the competitors who prepared an outstanding lineup of dishes that showed off the variety and versatility of the catch and Jersey Fresh produce.”

Gregg is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts.  He worked at some of the most highly regarded restaurants in New York and New Jersey, such as Ho-Ho-Kus Inn and Michael Anthony’s, before bringing the farm-to-table experience to Essex County, N.J., with Escape in Montclair.  He recently was the featured chef at the James Beard House in Manhattan.

“It means a lot to me to represent New Jersey at the national competition,” said Gregg. “We will show people outside of New Jersey what we can do. There are very few places like New Jersey where you can get the quality and variety of seafood and produce we have available.”

The second-place winner was James Costello of The Ohana Grill in Lavallette. Third place was awarded to Jennifer Monaco of Sustainable Fare LLC of Lawrenceville.

Other chefs who participated in the cook-off included: Frank Benowitz of Mercer County Community College in West Windsor; Joe Kratochwill of Zallie’s Fresh Kitchen at ShopRite in Medford; Marita Lynn of Runa Peruvian Cuisine in Red Bank; and Charles Ostergren of Viking Fresh Off the Hook in Barnegat Light.

The Jersey Seafood Challenge was sponsored by Viking Village, New Jersey Restaurant Association, Garden State Seafood Association, New Jersey Chapters of the American Culinary Federation and Lund’s Fisheries.

The Great American Seafood Cook-off is limited to 20 chefs with the champion being named king or queen of American seafood. The cook-off is televised by the Food Network and is part of the Louisiana Foodservice Expo.

New Jersey fishermen land more than 100 varieties of finfish and shellfish. New Jersey’s commercial fishermen caught 120 million pounds of seafood in 2013, valued at $133 million. The most valuable fisheries in 2013 were sea scallops ($65.3 million), ocean quahog ($12 million), surf clams ($10.9 million) and blue crabs ($8.1 million), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Gregg is planned to be the featured chef at a taste sampling at Viking Village dock at 10 a.m. and noon at Discover Barnegat Light Day, Monday, July 13. Tickets for the dock tour and sampling are $3.

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