Second Ever Queen of Louisiana Seafood Crowned as Chef Amanda Cusey of Lake Charles wins the 15th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off
Chef Amanda Cusey of The Villa Harlequin in Lake Charles became the second ever Queen of Louisiana Seafood in Lafayette, besting 11 other chefs to win the 15th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. For the fifth year, the event was held at the Cajundome Convention Center in conjunction with A Taste of EatLafayette. The winner of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off will represent Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off held in conjunction with the Louisiana Restaurant Association 69th Annual Showcase in New Orleans August 6.
To win the crown, Chef Cusey prepared a pan-seared red drum over a tomato polenta with a crawfish cream sauce showcasing her creativity and highlighting the superior quality of the seafood that comes from Louisiana’s shorelines and vast waterways.
“I was blown away. I was surprised because I did not think I was going to win. I thought I might get into the top two or three, but I was not expecting number one,” said Chef Amanda Cusey, 2022 Queen of Louisiana Seafood.
“We’re here for the fifth year in Lafayette, partnering with Lafayette Travel and their Eat Lafayette promotion for the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off to crown the King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Chefs from all over Louisiana competed with the winner representing Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans this August. Additionally, the winner will represent Louisiana all over the world promoting the great seafood caught off the shores of our state. This event is a great opportunity to promote great Louisiana fresh seafood and partner with local restaurants. It was definitely a great event in Lafayette tonight.”
The first duty for the 2022 King/Queen of Louisiana Seafood is to prepare to represent the state in the 18th Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans on Saturday, August 6.
Closely behind Chef Cusey in second place was Chef Amy Sins of Langlois in New Orleans. And, coming in third place was Chef David Dickensauge of Tsunami in Baton Rouge.
Each dish was scrutinized by some of Louisiana’s most seasoned chefs and food lovers including Chef Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, chef/owner of Dook’s Place and part of the Dooky Chase Restaurant family; Celeste Chachere, great-granddaughter of Tony Chachere and Director of Marketing and Development for Tony Chachere’s Creole Foods; Chef Cody Carroll, former King of Louisiana Seafood and chef/owner of Hot Tails in New Roads and Prairieville; and, Chef Nealy Frentz, former winner of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off with her husband Keith and chef/owner of LOLA Restaurant in Covington.
The competitors for the 2022 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off were:
Those inspired by the chefs’ culinary creativity and looking to bring the state’s best seafood dishes to their own kitchen can visit www.LouisianaSeafood.com for recipes of each competing dish. To keep up with Louisiana Seafood throughout the year, follow @LaSeafoodBoard on Instagram and Twitter and at www.facebook.com/louisianaseafood.
The LRA Advocacy Team is proud of the work our team accomplished on behalf of our members during the 2022 Legislative Session, which wrapped June 6. This session saw numerous bills filed that had potential to impact our industry in significant ways at a time when food, labor and operating costs are creating stress for LRA members. Of significant concern to restaurant profitability were numerous bills that proposed establishing a state minimum wage, with some offering annual CPI based increases. This year saw varying approaches including a ballot referendum proposing a constitutional amendment with others in statute. All of these bills were defeated in their initial committee hearing. A bill requiring paid sick leave for employers of as few as five workers was also defeated in committee.
As the only industry that has a tip credit while still requiring the employer to guaranty at least minimum wage, the LRA took the lead on defeating legislation seeking to double the tip credit wage from $2.13 to $4.26. We are grateful to LRA Baton Rouge members Megan Klock of Ruffino's and Kevin Kimball of Wayne Stabiler Enterprises for testifying before the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on how our industry workforce is compensated and stories on their business operations. This type of first hand member testimony is invaluable to our lobbying efforts.
The LRA also pushed for the passage of legislation that included renewed funding for tourism promotion from ARPA funds and a rewrite to how we solicit and fund major and regional events. This effort funds incentives to bid major national and regional sports, political and entertainment events. There was an initial appropriation this year and we will work to grow this next session. For the first time up to 50% of the state sales tax impact when determined after these events will be returned to these funds to invent the next round of events. Special thanks to House Speaker Clay Schexnayder who put his name and efforts behind passing both of these key pieces of legislation.
The LRA developed, negotiated and led in the passing of a package of bills that expand opportunities for Louisiana based craft breweries. Thanks to the ATC, Beer Industry League and the Craft Brewers Guild for partnering to create this legislation. In general, this will provide the opportunity to self distribute if desired, open additional tap rooms with breweries, transfer product between breweries and continue to utilize wholesale distribution, should they desire. A separate bill will provide each brewery location to host up to 12 events per year at their taprooms, allow for using a licensed caterer for food and outside alcohol and continue to allow families to attend these events. This package has gone to Governor Edwards.
The LRA, in two separate bills, included preemption of local delivery fees for restaurants statewide. If signed into law, only a state ATC restaurant delivery permit would be required. Additionally one of these bills will allow a restaurant with a delivery permit to sell wine in the original manufacturer sealed bottle with restaurant food for curbside pickup.
And, after this year's confusion regarding the repeal of the restaurant wholesale seafood permit through Wildlife and Fisheries license fee increase last year, the prior regulation was adopted that will return the permit process to what we followed in up to in the end of 2020. It will require only a single annual permit application and fee.
For the New Orleans members, we pushed the passage of legislation that will allow the City Council to have input and review of the Sewerage & Water Board's billing processes. Too many LRA members report significant fluctuation in their water bills with little to no explanation. This should bring some transparency to this process.
During this term we have been fortunate that the House Speaker Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez started with their first jobs in the restaurant industry. They both have an open door to our lobby team and have been very supportive of addressing industry needs.