Monday, May 10, 2010

Paula Deen Joins Celebration of Louisiana Seafood

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) is responding in earnest to the situation Louisiana fishermen are facing in the Gulf waters by dedicating the Saturday Grand Tasting to a “Celebration of Louisiana Seafood” and offering a special fundraising dinner at Restaurant August later that evening. Proceeds from these events will be dedicated to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation in partnership with the Louisiana Seafood Board. Food Network's reigning Southern Belle, Paula Deen, will highlight this year's revelry with a special appearance on Saturday, May 29. Louisiana's own "bayou boy," and TLC celebrity chef John Besh will join Deen in a cooking demonstration on the Main Stage at 3:15pm. "I am so excited to be a part of a celebration of Louisiana seafood," states Deen. "To me Louisiana seafood is just divine, and we need to pay tribute to that." The Friday and Saturday Grand Tastings are the culminating events of NOWFE's 4-day extravaganza and are truly "Grand" experiences for both foodies and wine connoisseurs, pairing extensive offerings from 75 of New Orleans' finest chefs and a selection of more than 1000 wines from around the world. (To purchase tickets visit

Celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez will also join in the festivities by presenting a cooking demonstration of his own during the Saturday Grand Tasting at 2:00pm. In addition to the special cooking demonstrations, eleven Louisiana chefs will participate in the third annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Board. The winning chef, crowned the "King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood," will represent Louisiana in the seventh annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off. "It is vitally important for us to remind consumers that Louisiana seafood is still readily available and safe for consumption," states Ewell Smith, Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Board. "Louisiana produces one-third of the seafood for the continental US, and 70% of the seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, creating a $2.4 billion industry that supports over 27,000 jobs."

“The response from these chefs is overwhelming,” states Octavio Mantilla, 2010 NOWFE Board President. "Their efforts will enable us make a substantial contribution that will support our local fishermen and help us to preserve these national treasures-- our Louisiana Coastline and Fisheries." To continue the celebration, Deen, her husband Captain Michael Groover, and her brother Earl 'Bubba Hiers of Bubba's Oyster House, will be joined by chefs Besh, and Sanchez in their support of Louisiana fishermen with a fundraising dinner at Besh’s flagship restaurant, August, on Saturday night at 7pm. Restaurant August will generously donate 100% of the proceeds from this dinner to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. Reservations for the six-course dinner, paired with exceptional wines, showcasing Gulf Coast seafood specialties are $300 per person; event sponsorships that include a table of ten, V.I.P reception, and commemorative photograph are available for $5,000. To reserve a seat or sponsor the event, contact Christy Bradley at 504.565.5482 or

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is a non-profit organization. The Board of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience donates 100% of the events’ profit to support their programs and foundations. Proceeds from the 2010 event will benefit the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation in partnership with the Louisiana Seafood Board, University of New Orleans School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism, the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation's ProStart Program, The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Delgado Community College Culinary Arts Program, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts Culinary Arts Program, Girls First, Cancer Crusaders, Southern Animal Foundation, Coach Sean Payton’s Play It Forward Foundation and Fore! Kids Foundation. For more information please visit

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board was created in 1984 by the state of Louisiana to support their vast historical commercial fisheries industry. The Board is composed of 15 members and each member represents a sector of the industry: harvesters, processors, wholesalers, restaurateurs/retailers, fisheries resource managers, public health officers and marketing specialists. The Board’s operating budget is derived from license sales to Louisiana commercial fishermen and seafood wholesalers/retailers as well as state and federal grants. The Board represents over 12,000 fishermen while promoting and marketing $2.6 billion of retail seafood sales annually to the consumer.

Paula Deen is a restaurateur from Savannah, Georgia who hosts the Food Network cooking shows Paula's Home Cooking. Paula opened her first restaurant in early 1990, and by the end of the decade her home-style southern cooking had gained national attention. She's the anti-chef of the Food Network, a self-taught cook and advocate of the butter-n-bacon approach, with an empire that includes her Savannah restaurant (The Lady & Sons), a magazine (Cooking With Paula Deen), several cookbooks and a memoir (It Ain't All About the Cookin').

John Besh is a native of South Louisiana and owner of six successful restaurants in New Orleans—Restaurant August, Besh Steak, L√ľke, La Provence, Domenica at The Roosevelt Hotel and The American Sector at The National World War II Museum. He has won numerous awards including the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Chef Southeast” in 2006, Food & Wine’s “Top 10 Best New Chefs in America”, Gourmet’s “Guide to America’s Best Restaurants,” and “America’s Top 50 Restaurants”. Most recently he was featured on Food Networks Next Iron Chef and Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.

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