SALT LAKE CITY – Three of Utah's top chefs put their talents to the test as they competed for a chance to represent the state in a national seafood cooking competition.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal extended an invitation to Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert to nominate a top Utah chef to travel to New Orleans to compete in the 11th annual Great American Seafood Cook-off. Governor Herbert invited Chefs Phelix Gardner of Pago (Salt Lake City), Clement Gelas of Talisker on Main (Park City), and Briar Handley of Handle (Park City) to prepare a dish for a panel of local culinary experts and public figures to determine which chef would have the opportunity to represent Utah in the national competition.
Rules for the Great American Seafood Cook-off require all seafood must come from a sustainable, local source from the state each chef is representing. So, Utah trout was on the menu for all three chefs as they gathered at the Harmons City Creek store for an exclusive tasting event broadcast live on KUTV Channel 2. Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox represented the Governor at the event and participated on the judging panel. Other panelists included KUTV anchor Mary Nickles, Salt Lake Magazine dining and executive editor Mary Brown Malouf, food and travel blogger Vanessa Chang, and Café Madrid owner Gabrielle McAfee.
"Utah has a lot to be proud of in our chefs and in the quality ingredients and products we get from our local producers," Lieutenant Governor Cox said. Using locally-produced trout, produce, butter, spices, and other items - many of which belonged to the Utah's Own family of products – the chefs produced stunning dishes that really put pressure on the panel. "I have judged many food competitions in my career and this is one of the toughest," Malouf said following the panel's deliberations.
In the end the panel chose Chef Briar Handley to send to New Orleans. Handley said he was honored to be chosen. In addition to taking an assistant chef, Handley must also take with him all the Utah ingredients to make his dish. The national competition on Aug. 2, will be broadcast on PBS.
Lt. Governor Cox thanked the sponsors who came together to make this event possible. Delta Airlines has agreed to provide air travel, and the Park City Chamber of Commerce, Utah's Own brand, and the Utah Restaurant Association have also donated financial support to cover travel expenses for Chef Handley and his assistant chef. Harmons City Creek hosted the event and provided ingredients and logistical support. Cox also thanked the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts for coordinating the event.
For more information on the Great American Seafood Cook-off, please visit: http://www.greatamericanseafoodcookoff.com/