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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Chef Kyle Ogden of Odette Restaurant in Florence, Alabama

Chef Ogden Is The Winner of the 9th Annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off At The Wharf In Orange Beach

Chef Kyle Ogden of Odette Restaurant in Florence, Alabama took home the championship with his “Spring Tide” dish—pompano stuffed with shrimp and crab meat, flavored with the sweet and sour agrodolce sauce, plus fresh Alabama vegetables and herbs for pesto.

“We use pompano quite a bit in the restaurant,” Ogden said. “I wanted our dish to be something you could get in the restaurant while still elevating it to competition level. It really kind of showcased some of the Alabama seafood we use on a regular basis as well as the local produce we use on a day-to-day basis. Kodachrome Gardens is a 501(c)(3) charity garden in Florence. They donate a lot of produce to the community as well as sell to the restaurants. When they sell to us, the proceeds go to the community aspect of their garden. We also used some micro greens that one of our cook’s grandmother grows, called MeeMaw’s Greens.

pompano stuffed with shrimp and crab meat
Image courtesy Billy Pope/ADCNR

“This was a really great competition. I was kind of surprised we won. Everybody’s dishes looked great. I had a friend taking pictures so I could see their finished plates. I’m just really happy we were able to win. Thankfully our plate came out exactly how we do it in the restaurant, so I was very, very happy with it.”

The judges, Chef Jim Smith of The Hummingbird Way restaurant in Mobile, Chef Brody Olive of Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Chef Arwen Rice of Red and White Restaurant in Mobile, and AL.com food writer Bob Carlton, were given a wide swath of seafood creations to judge. The dishes were awarded points in five categories:

  • Presentation, general impression, and serving methods
  • Creativity and practicality
  • Composition and harmony of ingredients
  • Correct preparation and craftsmanship
  • Flavor, taste, and texture

Each category was worth up to 20 points for a total of 100 points.

Commissioner Chris Blankenship of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said the Alabama Seafood Cook-Off is an excellent chance to market Alabama’s Gulf Coast seafood industry.

The Alabama Gulf Coast Is A Hotbed Of Great Seafood

“A lot of people don’t know what all we do have on the Alabama Gulf Coast,” Commissioner Blankenship said. “We had coastal chefs, but we also had one from Auburn and one from Florence. They are cooking great seafood from one end of our state to the other. They’re serving it in Birmingham, Montgomery, Florence, Huntsville, Auburn, and Tuscaloosa as well as down here on the coast. Anywhere in Alabama, you’re able to get that good, fresh local product.

“Like always, it’s great to get these chefs down here using Alabama seafood. We had snapper. We had croaker. We had shrimp. We had pompano. All four chefs used different types of fish and seafood. They mixed it with good local produce and herbs from Alabama. It’s great see them take Alabama seafood and put it together with other great Alabama products to make dishes that are just outstanding. I appreciate these chefs who take their creativity and really turn it into something special.”

Chef Ogden now gets an opportunity to follow in Chef Olive’s footsteps by competing in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off later this summer in New Orleans.

Experience Chef Brody Olive’s Impressive Seafood Menu at Perdido Beach Resort
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