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Chef Al LevinsohnChef Al Levinsohn, Alaska's 2010 representative, prepares white king salmon with swiss chard, scallop risotto, and arugula pesto. King salmon are well-known for their rich, red meat, which comes from pigments in crustaceans in the salmons' diet. However, some king salmon – only about one in 20 – have white meat due to an inability to process these pigments in their food. King, a.k.a. Chinook, salmon with white or red meat are the same species. King salmon in the U.S. market come from U.S. and Canadian fisheries.

So you think you can cook?

More than a dozen accomplished and up-and-coming chefs from around the country will face off this Saturday, August 6, in the Great American Seafood Cook-off to compete for the crown of King of American Seafood. Held annually in New Orleans for the past eight years, the cook-off is sponsored in part by NOAA Fisheries and is presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. Participating chefs will create unique dishes using wild-caught or farm-raised fish from their home states, to emphasize the importance of cooking with domestic sustainable seafood.

You may be wondering, why is NOAA Fisheries—a government agency known for its scientific research and regulations –  involved in a culinary competition? This particular event, and others like it, highlight one of NOAA Fisheries’ primary responsibilities – to monitor and manage fisheries in federal waters, ensuring their health and sustainability. NOAA Fisheries sponsors and participates in seafood events to emphasize these messages in front of chefs, businesses, and a variety of other important stakeholders, to make sure consumers understand their sustainable seafood options.

The agency is involved in a number of seafood festivals and expos throughout the year, from large-scale international events such as the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels and the International Boston Seafood Show, to smaller festivals such as the Ballard Seafood Fest in Seattle and the North Carolina

2009 Alaska “Chef-testant” Patrick Hoogerhyde 2009 Alaska "Chef-testant" Patrick Hoogerhyde demonstrates to the crowd how to remove the bones from a beautiful piece of Alaska salmon.

Seafood Festival in Morehead City. These events allow NOAA Fisheries staff to educate consumers about the agency’s role in ensuring a sustainable seafood supply, whether by rebuilding fishery stocks or restoring habitat to support fisheries. Promoting the importance of purchasing and eating sustainable seafood  supports responsible domestic fisheries and aquaculture operations.

The 2011 Great American Seafood Cook-off takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 6, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans during the annual Louisiana Foodservice Expo. The cook-off is open to the public.

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