[EATYALL PODCAST #58] The Kings of Seafood: Chef Jim Smith and Chef Scott Simpson, previous winners of the Alabama Seafood Cook-Off | Live from EATYALL Chef Camp with Andy Chapman
EATYALL Chef Camp has united chefs with fishermen, shrimpers, oyster farmers, local officials, and seafood experts over their shared love of the fragrant, flavorful seafood of Alabama. And what better way to wrap up this Chef Camp series than holding court with seafood royalty, so to speak?
Today’s episode, the fourth and final installment from EATYALL Chef Camp, features two of Alabama’s best: chefs Jim Smith and Scott Simpson. After winning the Alabama Seafood Cook-off, both represented the state in The Great American Seafood Cook-Off, with Scott competing in 2021 and Jim winning it all in 2011. Hear their musings about seafood and Chef Camp, and read on for a recipe you’ll want to try for the holidays – or any day!
Seafood Rewards Beyond The Awards
The Road To Seafood Cook-Off Glory. Both chefs fell in love with seafood early on, and their stories inform not just their life’s work, but also the award-winning dishes they have served. Take a peek into their career paths before and after their cook-off competitions – from serving state governors to finding joy in training a new batch of passionate chefs.
The People And Pride Behind Alabama Seafood. Jim and Scott share their takeaways from EATYALL Chef Camp, sharing their utmost respect for the Alabaman men and women who have harvested seafood for generations, and explaining why it matters where your ingredients come from.
A Dish Served By Many Hands. As Chef Camp wraps, Jim and Scott tell Andy about the value of meeting other seafood professionals – seeing the excitement on their faces when preparing a dish from the seafood they provided. As Scott says, you’re thinking of the person behind the product; learn why that is the right mindset for restaurants and their patrons.
The future is very bright for Alabama’s seafood industry from what Jim and Scott saw and tasted at EATYALL Chef Camp. Although this episode wraps up the seafood series, here’s a parting gift for you: Jim’s recipe for oyster dressing provided below! Bring a little homegrown Alabama flavor to your holidays, and check back with EATYALL for the next great sustainable food story.
Chef Jim Smith’s Oyster Dressing Recipe
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup melted butter, at room temperature
3½ cups fresh cornmeal, sifted
½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place two 9-inch cast iron skillets in the oven. Preheating the skillets helps the bread cook evenly, develops a crust, and makes removal of the bread easier.
- In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk and then add the buttermilk, milk and butter. Set the wet ingredients aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt until evenly mixed. Using a rubber spatula, slowly pour and mix the wet ingredients into the dry and combine.
- Carefully remove the preheated cast iron skillets from the oven and coat heavily with pan spray.
- Equally divide the batter between the two pans and quickly return to the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done and let cool.
½ pound (2 cups) Conecuh sausage, diced fine
Cajun mirepoix, diced fine (1 medium onion, 1 medium green bell pepper and 2 ribs of celery)
8 cups crumbled cornbread (The cornbread recipe above yields 12 cups.)
2 tablespoons melted fat, melted (bacon, duck, butter or shortening)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2¼ cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons picked fresh thyme, stems removed
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
24 shelled oysters, liquor reserved
¼ cup reserved oyster liquor
Salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a medium sauté pan with vegetable oil and render the sausage under high heat until it has browned.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the Cajun mirepoix to the pan and sauté until the vegetables are translucent. Be
careful not to brown the mirepoix. Remove the mixture from the pan and let it cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the cornbread crumbs, the cooled sausage mixture and the fat. Mix the ingredients and then add the eggs, stock, thyme and parsley while gently mixing.
- Finally, add the oysters and the oyster liquor and mix, making sure to leave the oysters intact. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Coat a 12-inch cast iron skillet with nonstick spray, and evenly pour the oyster dressing batter into the skillet. Bake for 45 minutes.
Chef Jim Smith – www.thehummingbirdway.com
Currently the Founder and Executive Chef of The Hummingbird Way oyster bar in Mobile, Alabama, Jim Smith also serves as the Executive Chef of the state of Alabama, and Chairman of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission. In addition to winning the Great American Seafood Competition in 2011, Jim appeared in seasons 14 and 16 of Top Chef, and takes pride in making The Hummingbird Way a positive place for young chefs to work and grow.
Chef Scott Simpson – www.allaboardauburn.com
Fresh off his appearance representing Alabama in the Great American Seafood Competition 2021, Scott Simpson is the Co-Owner and Executive Chef of The Depot, an award-winning seafood brasserie in Auburn, Alabama. Having curated an exciting, ever-changing, competitive menu, Scott is equally driven to recognize the potential in young chefs – and mentoring them to reach it.
Alabama Gulf Seafood
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/alseafood
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AlabamaSeafood
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/VisitALBeaches
Connect With Our Guests:
Chef Jim Smith
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/chef_jim_smith/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thehummingbirdway/
Chef Scott Simpson
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/blackbeltkitchen
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/theauburndepot
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuburnDepot
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The EATYALL Podcast is hosted by Andy Chapman, CEO and founder of EATYALL. EATYALL serves the food and farm community with effective chef outreach services. To learn more or inquire about chef outreach activities on behalf of your organization, please reach out here. To learn more about consulting services available to individual farmers, ranchers and seafood processors interested in starting or scaling a “farm to table” business, please reach out here.