The finalists for the June 26 Alabama Seafood Cook-Off at the Wharf Orange Beach have been selected. We’re excited to announce that Kitchen on George Executive Chef Bryan Cates is one of four chefs statewide that have been tapped to compete!
Chef Bryan Cates fellow contenders are Chef Kelly Grady Hargroves of Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Montgomery, Chef Brody Olive of Voyager’s Restaurant at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, and Chef Jason Ramirez of Villaggio Grille in Orange Beach.
Chef Olive will be competing for the third year in a row after being named ASCO runner-up in 2015 and 2016. Chef Cates, Chef Hargroves, and Chef Ramirez will all be competing for the first time.
This year’s winner will go on to represent Alabama in the 2017 Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO) in New Orleans. Additionally, the ASCO winner will also be an automatic qualifier for the 2017 World Food Championships to be held at The Wharf in November.
The judges for this year’s competition will include John McMillian, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries; Chef Jim Smith, executive chef for the State of Alabama, 2011 GASCO champion, and chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC); Chef Josh Quick, executive chef of Odette and 2016 ASCO champion; Jason Burnett, founding editor of MyRecipes.com and Oyster Obsession; and David Holloway, food writer for Alabama Media Group. Returning this year as our emcee will be Martie Duncan, former Food Network Star finalist and creator of Martie Knows Parties.
In order to narrow down this year’s submissions, these judges were assisted by four former GASCO contenders in Chef Chris Hastings, James Beard Award winner and executive chef and owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club and Ovenbird; Chef Rob McDaniel, James Beard Award semifinalist and executive chef and general manager at SpringHouse; Chef David Bancroft, James Beard Award semifinalist and executive chef and partner at Acre; and Chef George Reis, 2015 ASCO champion and owner and executive chef of Ocean and 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar. Also helping select this year’s finalists were Chris Blankenship, deputy commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and program administrator for the ASMC, and Chef Chris Sherrill, executive chef of Flora-Bama Yacht Club and co-founder of the NUISANCE Group.
“We had several really great entries for the Alabama Seafood Cook-Off this year,” said Blankenship. “The selection committee agonized over the recipes to select the four finalists. I am very excited for the quality of chefs in the Cook-Off, and I can’t wait to taste their imaginative dishes.”
As in previous years, chef teams (lead chef plus one assistant) will be judged by the same five criteria that the GASCO abides by: presentation, general impression and serving methods; creativity and practicality; composition and harmony of ingredients; correct preparation and craftsmanship; and flavor, taste and texture.
More details, including how you can attend, will be coming soon.
Situated in Mobile’s historic and quaint Oakleigh Garden District at 351A George St., Kitchen on George has made a name for itself the last five years and has been honored with numerous awards, hosted events for the community, is ranked the No. 1 restaurant in Mobile on TripAdvisor.com and was recently named to the “13 Alabama Restaurants You Must Try Before You Die” list.
The restaurant’s commitment to locally sourced and seasonally inspired cuisine has proven popular among its diners. Buying from local producers whenever possible, the Farm to Table strategy allows chefs to offer fresh, bright flavors of the region while providing the healthiest and highest-quality food at an affordable price.
The restaurant is owned by Education Corporation of America which operates Virginia College in Mobile, along with 70 ground locations nationwide. Additional restaurant locations include Century Restaurant & Bar in the Historic Tutwiler Hotel in Birmingham, Ala., Kitchen on Cary in Richmond, Va., and Kitchen on San Marco in Jacksonville, Fla.
About Chef Bryan M. Cates
Chef Bryan Cates joined Kitchen on George as the executive chef in July 2016. A graduate of the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Charleston, he has been a chef at six different restaurants, including most recently serving as executive chef at Bellini’s Ristorante and Bar in Birmingham, Ala. Prior to that, Cates was executive chef at Basico in Charleston, S.C., where he handled menu creation and recipe development, special events and catering management as well as oversight of the Mixson Market. Additionally, Cates gleaned valuable experience from the nationally acclaimed Hot and Hot Fish Club located in Birmingham where he served as line chef.
Cates has worked with diverse types of cuisine and in an array of kitchens, and has a passion for developing innovative recipes with a high attention to small details that enhance the quality of the dish. Rather than only focusing on the entrée, Cates enjoys cooking sides and vegetables that will complement and highlight the main dish.
Garnering a variety of accolades over his six years in the culinary scene, Cates was named the 2015 Limehouse Citrus Celebration Winner for the Best Citrus Dish and was showcased in Local Palate for this distinction. Cates has demonstrated his culinary skills in various events such as the James Beard Foundation Sunday Supper at Chelsea Market in New York City and the Charleston Wine and Food Festival, both in 2015.
Cates is passionate about using fresh ingredients and locally sourced items, a perfect fit for the farm-to- table philosophy at Kitchen on George. He has facilitated relationships with local vendors in his previous restaurants and strives to let these natural ingredients shine and looks forward to continuing to develop local, seasonal menus for guests to enjoy.