Vidalia restaurateur competing for King of Louisiana Seafood title at Seafood Cook-Off

Published 11:10 am Thursday, May 25, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — One Vidalia chef has thrown his hat in the ring to compete with a dozen chefs vying for the title of King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood at the Louisiana Seafood Cook-off.

The competition takes place Tuesday, June 27, at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.

Chef Ashley Allen of Coconuts Bar and Grill in Vidalia will be the first chef representing Vidalia in the cook-off, KNOE news reported.

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Since its inception in 2008, the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off has been at the top of the list of professional culinary competitions.

Competing chefs from all corners of the state line the stage in this live cooking, fast-paced, culinary throw-down.

To qualify for the competition, a chef must be the executive chef of a free-standing Louisiana restaurant belonging to the Louisiana Restaurant Association. LRA is a partner of both Louisiana and Great American Seafood Cook-Offs.

In addition to earning the title of King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood, the winner represents the state at various events, including the Great American Seafood Cook-Off held in New Orleans during the LRA Showcase on Aug. 5.

Allen first opened up Coconuts Bar and Grill in Vidalia on Thanksgiving day in 2022 and has been involved in many other restaurants, including as the head chef at The Little Easy and The Kitchen and has been involved in culinary classes at Copiah Lincoln Community College in Natchez.

As a native of the Virgin Islands, Coconuts is the first restaurant Allen has owned in the United States but he has been involved in family restaurants in the islands since he was 17 years old, he said.

Since moving to the United States, has also worked at many resort restaurants, including the Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Marriott, and eventually landed in Jackson working with Mississippi celebrity chef Nick Wallace.

Winning the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off has been known as a “culinary catapult” amongst industry members, according to Past winners have gone on to open restaurants, host their own culinary television shows and grace the covers of magazines across the nation.

The following chefs were chosen to compete in the competition:

  • Ashley Allen, Executive Chef, Coconuts Bar and Grill; Vidalia
  • Stephen Coblentz, Executive Chef, Charthouse; Lake Charles
  • Ben Fidelak, Executive Chef/Owner, Mariner’s Restaurant; Natchitoches
  • Dustin Frederick, Chef, Restaurant Calla; Lake Charles
  • Greg Gizzaffi, Executive Chef, Landry’s Seafood House; Lake Charles
  • Owen Hohl, Chef, Hot Tails; New Roads & Prairieville
  • Blake Jackson, Executive Chef, Drake Foods LLC – Looosiana Seafood Market, Drake Catering, Whisk Dessert Bar; Shreveport
  • Brett Monteleone, The Overpass Merchant; Baton Rouge
  • Chris Motto, Executive Chef, Jubans; Baton Rouge
  • Chad Phares, Executive Chef, Hurricane Hole; Grand Isle
  • Amy Sins, Chef, Langlois; New Orleans
  • Christopher Vazquez, Executive Chef, Redfish Grill; New Orleans