O What Fun I Had Judging the Wild Chef Throwdown

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(A note to my friend, Charlotte)

Dear Charlotte,

Hey Girl! You know I told you about the food scene here on the Gulf Coast and how it’s exploding with new talent and restaurants…well, let me tell you about the fun I had on a recent Sunday afternoon!

You know how I love to try new dining experiences and am so lucky to find plenty of them on my Coast360 adventures!…Well, I was invited to be a judge for the The World Food Championships qualifier called The Wild Chef Throwdown at The Flora-Bama Yacht Club. What is The World Food Championships, you ask? Well, it’s just what it sounds like…the best chefs in the WORLD, competing for cash and prizes and the title of World Food Champion. And guess what! It’s all coming here this November to The Wharf in Orange Beach! I’m talking big time international competition…BIG TIME.

So, to be a competitor in The World Food Championships finals in November, chefs must qualify through a series of competitions during the year; and the final round for one of those qualifiers was held right here at The Flora-Bama Yacht Club (one of my favorite beach bar/restaurants EVER!). The six finalists were challenged to prepare a fish dish using very limited ingredients, (a few they brought with them and a few provided by the contest organizers)… AND they were on limited time! Talk about pressure! Get this…the type of fish was kept a secret until the moment the competition began! And when I say they didn’t know what type of fish…I mean they didn’t even see their choices until the tub was uncovered and there were WHOLE fish just laying there staring up right at ‘em, waiting to be cleaned and everything! King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Gaff Topsail Catfish and STINGRAY!  O My!! These folks are taIented…they do know their stuff…AND believe it or not…I didn’t see one single one of them looking up a recipe on Google…you know I can’t cook a meal without it! HA!

And… as if the task at hand weren’t difficult enough already…about halfway through the allotted time, they were given another fish to incorporate into their dish, and it wasn’t a pretty fish or an easy fish or even a tasty fish. It was what they call around here a “trash fish”… but no problem for these talented folks; they just rolled with the flow and made it work…quite deliciously! Honestly, we judges had the hardest job and that was picking one winner since all the dishes were amazing! Alas, duty called and I was able to withstand the pressure of tasting all that fabulous food and make my choices…Are you feeling sorry for me yet? No?!

Charlotte, I’m not kidding…that’s just ONE example of the super cool culinary happenings going on down here on the Gulf Coast…events like the Hangout Oyster Cook-Off in early October and The National Shrimp Festival in mid-October, to mention just a few!  I tell you the food scene is hopping with new restaurants and fabulous chefs…and let’s just say “the menu has changed” here in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Now, don’t get me wrong…you can still get your favorite fried fare at your favorite spots…that hasn’t changed …but there is SO MUCH more…it’s a foodie paradise!

Anyway…I could go on and on about this…I just can’t wait for you and The Hubs to come down and enjoy! Get out your calendar and let’s start planning!

Got a beach chair with your name on it!

Sally 😉

Sally Ellis

Sally Ellis

Sally Ellis loves tennis, entertaining, exploring new places and sharing times with family and good friends along Coast360. Keep up with Sally here at Coast360.com.