Consider this the big dance before the big dance. Finalists have been announced to compete in the Alabama Seafood Cook Off (ASCO) in Montgomery this Friday, May 1. Held at Southern Makers VIP E.A.T. South Farm in our state’s capital city, these four will battle it out to see who will compete in the 12th Annual Great American Seafood Cook off (GASCO) later this year.

The four competing for the Alabama title this weekend are Brandon Burleson of Voyager’s Restaurant in Orange Beach, Miguel Figueroa of A and P Social in Montgomery, Brody Olive of Spectrum Resorts in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach areas and George Reis of Ocean in Birmingham.

The competitors will be judged on presentation, general impression and serving methods, creativity and practicality, composition and harmony of ingredients, correct preparation and craftsmanship, flavor, taste and texture.

There can be only one, but each chef will have one assistant. Expect us to announce the winner in our next issue. Until then, visit www.eatalabamaseafood.com for more information.

Fairhope Inn hosting lunch with Food Network Star Simon Majumdar
“Fed, White, and Blue” is the account of one man’s journey that led to American citizenship through extraordinary food experiences. As told through the eyes of author, critic and television star Simon Majumdar, this current book tour is finding its way to our very own Fairhope Inn.

This Saturday, May 2, the star of Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Beat Bobby Flay and Extreme Chef will be coming to Church St. in the Fairhope Colony with a truckload of books and cooking equipment preparing the famous Indian dish Chicken Tikka Masala in the Chef’s demonstration kitchen at Fairhope Inn.

The event begins at 11:30 a.m. and guests will be treated to the dish as well as a cooling dessert of Meyer Lemon Semifreddo. The cost is $30 and includes the demonstration, lunch, tax, and gratuity. Reservations are required so call (251)928-6226.

Haberdasher acquires new digs
“It’s official,” says the Haberdasher’s Facebook page. One of our favorite bars with fabulous tacos will be moving to the Bienville Square area. The exact address is 113 Dauphin St., near Panini Pete’s of Mobile. It may be a couple of months before the doors open, though. The gang plans to give the building a complete facelift, but expect it to be something they can brag about.

I can’t wait for those cocktails and whatever other treasures the new place will offer. With the success of Noble South, Dumbwaiter, Panini Pete’s and Firehouse wine bar a block away, that section of Dauphin is becoming the hotspot. What will become of the former location at 451 Dauphin is yet to be determined. Cheers to a new chapter.

Little Black Dress a success for Ronald McDonald House
The models were fantastic, the presentation was excellent, and the drinks were flowing. This year’s Little Black Dress event went off without a hitch. But the fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House was much more than Miss Alabama and Miss Mississippi in bikinis. The food was amazing.

My first stop was at the Wintzell’s table, where shuckers were in overdrive dishing out some of the finest raw oysters I’ve had in a while. Yes, Wintzell’s, you are still king in my book. The line was long for Naman’s. Chef Rob’s shrimp and grits were overshadowed by some amazing pot stickers. Liquid was making the best sushi they’ve ever had, but the highlight for me was Pretty Perfect Pimiento Cheese.

I made it a point to seek out owner Maggie Heyworth for a quick selfie and a chat about her product. She informed me new flavors are coming soon, one of which is a horseradish and lemon concoction. “Andy, I’ve seen people’s body language change when they eat this one,” says Heyworth. She’s promised me samples. I intend on taking her up on that.

For more information and a list of places to retrieve some of this glorious cheese, visit www.prettyperfectpimientocheese.com. Be sure and read the story of how she kind of got her start in the pages of this paper.

For everyone else I didn’t get to visit at Little Black Dress, I apologize. There was so much to sample and so many McModels to see.

Blue Bell expands ice cream recall
It was a tough week for Blue Bell Ice Cream. On April 20 the frozen treat giant voluntarily expanded a recall to include all of its products currently on the market after samples showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. Other than ice cream the recall includes, frozen yogurt, frozen snacks and sherbet produced in Blue Bell facilities in Brenham, Texas, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and Sylacauga, Alabama.

The products in question were being sold at retail outlets in 23 different states (including Alabama and neighboring states) as well as international locations. These were produced between March 17 and 27 of this year. Anyone unsure of the safety of their Blue Bell products should throw them away immediately even if you’ve tasted them and not become ill. Infection from some strains can kill.

Keep abreast of the situation by monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA websites at www.cdc.gov and fda.gov.
Until next time, recycle!