Juneauites got a taste of two states on one plate Tuesday evening, at a special dinner meant to highlight the seafood cultures of Alaska and Louisiana. Juneau’s chef Chef Lionel Uddipa of Red Spruce and Chef Michael Brewer of Nola Geauxst Kitchen in New Orleans prepared a dinner highlighting the two state’s seafood cuisine.
The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown the Great American Seafood Cook-off in 2020 so its organizers decided to take the show on the road for 2021. Despite Alaska being a long journey for the Louisiana Seafood team that puts on the event, promoters said there was a special connection between the two states.
Diners were treated to dishes like Alaskan king crab with seaweed, vanilla, salmon roe, crispy taro chip and Louisiana oysters on the half shell with Cajun caviar, cucumber, lemon and mint gelées. The main course was blackened Alaska halibut bouillabaisse with foraged vegetables, roasted crawfish stock, blanked Louisiana white shrimp and Tabasco powder.
“We wanted to showcase the stuff you have right our your back door,” Brewer told the crowd, gesturing to Auke Bay just outside, “and that we have right outside our backdoor.”
Uddipa said he personally foraged some of the ingredients used in the dishes. Both chefs are winners of the Great American Seafood Cook-off, which is where the chefs said they met and bonded.
The $100 a person dinner sent $5,000 to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, according to Ashley Heimbigner with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, one of the event’s organizers. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said organizers also wanted to use the opportunity to promote the often interconnected seafood and tourism industries, both of which were adversely impacted by the pandemic.
The top three industries in both Alaska and Louisiana are the oil and gas industries, seafood and tourism, said Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, at a special dinner at Forbidden Peak Brewery in Auke Bay, and the states shared similar challenges in those industries.
“We’ve got food that’s going to feed your soul,” Nungesser said in his distinct Louisiana accent, repeating his state’s seafood slogan. “We hope that’s what this is going to do.”
Riffing on the two state’s slogans, Meyer said he hoped people would choose to “feed your soul with seafood that’s wild, natural and sustainable.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.