Peter Fischbach, of Toms River, executive chef and director of food service for Gourmet Dining Services at NJIT, captured second prize at the 2009 Great American Seafood Cook-Off, held last Saturday in New Orleans. This is the second year in a row in which Fischbach took the top prize. Working with him both years was chef, Erik Weatherspool, also of Toms River.
The event, which features both up-and-coming and celebrity chefs, underscores the importance of cooking with domestic seafood and encourages the use of products from sustainable fisheries. The cook-off, arguably among the nation’s most prominent, is funded by the US Department of Commerce (NOAA Fisheries) in conjunction with the Louisiana Foodservice Expo.
At NJIT, Fischbach is in charge of all aspects of food service. A member of the American Culinary Federation since 1996, he advocates using fresh, organically-grown produce and has been a long time member of SLOW. “It’s an organization dedicated to growing food the way it was meant to be grown: certified organic, pesticide and hormone-free just as nature intended,” he said. Fischbach is certified as an executive chef by the internationally-recognized American Culinary Federation.
The cook-off featured 15 teams, each preparing a domestic-seafood dish that reflected the cuisine of their home state. Judges representing the top echelon of the culinary arts judged the event. His winning entry was pan-seared Viking Village sea scallops with creamy chili-herb grits, warm "pickled" root vegetables, smoky applewood bacon, micro greens and corn volute. (ATTENTION EDITORS: Winning and other recipes are available upon request.)
The cook-off aims to highlight the agency's management of the nation's marine ecosystems. "Rebuilding U.S. marine fisheries so they can support the highest sustainable harvest for future generations of Americans is a significant challenge," says Jim Balsiger, acting NOAA Fisheries Service assistant administrator. "We are on target to end overfishing and set annual catch limits as required by U.S. law." Sponsors included FishWatch, Michelob Brewing Company, Whole Foods Market, Loubat Food Service Equipment, Louisiana Restaurant Association and the Royal Sonesta New Orleans hotel.
Recipes by Fischbach have been published by Gourmet Magazine and the Shore Gourmet Cookbook (Asbury Park Press, 2007). He has taught at Cook ‘n Tell, Marlboro, and the former Mairelles American Bistro, Freehold.
Tory McPhail, executive chef of Commander's Palace in New Orleans, was crowned "King of American Seafood,” while Alaska's Patrick Hoogerhyde, executive chef of Wild Fin Seagrill in Anchorage took home third. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal participated in the cook-off's opening ceremonies.