Alaska Chef Amara Enciso featured at the Jorgenson House. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Alaska Chef Amara Enciso featured at the Jorgenson House. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Chef Amara Enciso represents Alaska in 2022 Great American Seafood Cook-Off

See her seafood on the mainstage

Juneau-based chef Amara Enciso has some exciting news cooking up.

She’s been selected to compete against 13 chefs from around the country for the prestigious title of America’s Best Seafood Chef at the 2022 Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans. In a recent news release, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said he along with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board are excited to welcome Enciso to compete in this year’s competition.

“The Great American Seafood Cook-Off is the perfect stage to celebrate Louisiana and America’s domestic seafood industry – the best in the world,” said Nungesser. “This year there will be a very talented field of chefs from all over the country vying to be crowned the next ‘King or Queen of American Seafood’ right here in New Orleans. Each chef will be showcasing their skills with domestic seafood to present the best seafood dishes.”

Growing up in San Diego, Enciso received her first exposure to cooking seafood with her family in Mexico around the fishing communities of Ensenada and Rosarito.

“My inspiration definitely starts with my family,” said Enciso. “I started cooking at a young age with my folks. As I got older, the culinary scene was always a big interest to me; I love to eat, but who doesn’t?”

Prepared by Chef Enciso, Alaskan scallop with gin tempura watermelon radish at the Jorgenson House. (Courtesy photo / Brava Food)

Prepared by Chef Enciso, Alaskan scallop with gin tempura watermelon radish at the Jorgenson House. (Courtesy photo / Brava Food)

After attending culinary school and cutting her teeth in San Diego bakeries and restaurants, she moved to Juneau in 2017 with her husband and began working for SALT Restaurant for roughly two years before starting her own business, Brava Food, which partners exclusively with The Jorgenson House, a luxury bed and breakfast.

Enciso partly takes her culinary influences from traditional Mexican cuisine from places such as La Piedad, Michoacán and Tijuana, where her father was born. However, she specializes in preparing Alaska seafood and personally prioritizes the sourcing of fresh and sustainable food native to Southeast Alaska.

“This honor just means so much to me because I’ve been to the small fishing town where I source all of my fish from, I’ve been to Pelican, I’ve stayed there, I’ve seen the warehouse that it’s all processed in, I’ve met the fishermen, and the sustainability of the seafood here in the state of Alaska is just so incredible and it’s unlike any other state in the nation,” said Enciso.

Chef Enciso presenting a salmon demo at the Jorgenson House. (Courtesy photo / Brava Food)

Chef Enciso presenting a salmon demo at the Jorgenson House. (Courtesy photo / Brava Food)

The 18th Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off is set to take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 11:15 a.m. 14 chefs, each representing their home state, will be cooking live and televised for an audience and panel of nationally acclaimed judges such as Food Network Star Finalist and former King of Lousiana Chef Cory Bahr, KLFY TV10’s Gerald Gruenig, and “chef ref” Chef Keith Frentz, also a former King of Louisiana Seafood.

To be eligible to compete in the event, chefs must either hold the current title of King or Queen of Seafood or be appointed by the lieutenant governor of their respective state or territory, which Enciso was appointed by Alaska Governor and Lieutenant Governor, who she has both had the pleasure of cooking for at the Jorgenson House.

Wild Alaskan Halibut with mashers and foraged wild Alaskan fiddle heads featured at the Jorgenson House and prepared by Chef Enciso. (Courtesy photo / Brava Food)

Wild Alaskan Halibut with mashers and foraged wild Alaskan fiddle heads featured at the Jorgenson House and prepared by Chef Enciso. (Courtesy photo / Brava Food)

“I’m just very humbled by this whole opportunity, and I respect seafood here in Alaska, I mean anywhere really, but mostly here. Our locally sourced sustainable seafood, it’s just unlike any other, so I’m just very excited to represent the people of Alaska,” said Enciso. “It’s also very empowering to be a female chef just in general and to go and be put on such an important platform, it means so much to me. Also, I’m a Latina, so that’s also exciting and I just feel very empowered by the whole opportunity. I’m going to go down there and do my best and do what we do on a daily basis here, which is cook the quality seafood that we eat and just have fun doing it.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com

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