Local chefs hope trip to D.C. will help seafood industry bounce back

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by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on February 9, 2011 at 11:45 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 17 at 5:57 PM

WASHINGTON – It's a case of show and tell, and Wednesday night, the show is taking place at a Washington, D.C. restaurant, and it's telling the story of Louisiana seafood.

In a Washington, D.C. restaurant called Acadiana, Louisiana is in full swing.

"Nationally, we have lost a good amount of our market. We need to get that back, and this is what that's all about," said Chef John Besh. "We're out there saying, here it is, look at it, it's great, it tastes good, it's good for you and it's highly scrutinized, more than any other food you'll find in the market."

Besh is one of more than a half-dozen New Orleans-area chefs on hand for a major reception called “Let the World Be Your Oyster.”

And if the name isn't obvious enough, what's on the menu are plenty of oysters.

"The dish I'm doing tonight is a sweet and spicy oyster with some sesames with it, and it's just to show how great our oysters are down in Louisiana; certainly that they're safe and they're delicious and they're the best in the world,” said Chef Greg Reggio of Zea's Restaurant.

More than 500 people packed the Acadiana Restaurant to get their oyster fill. Organizers hope it does more than just satisfy the palette. They're also hoping it helps highlights the positive side of a beleaguered industry.

"What we do tonight is we've created a fun environment for everybody, have a great, memorable experience, and remember our visit up here,” said Ewell Smith, of the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board.

It's been a tough year for Louisiana oysters, dealing with a double whammy of the BP oil spill and fresh water diversions, opened up in order to keep the oil out of sensitive marshes.

It's part of the reason a group of representatives traveled to Washington this week. Their so-called “Walk on the Hill” is part policy talk, part celebration, all to try and get the state's $3 billion seafood industry back on track.

"As we visit with them, there are a number of new members of Congress this year. We're educating them about our old issues as well as this new issue,” said Mike Voisin of Motivatit Seafoods

That is why they say an outreach event like the reception is so important in the marketing push for the Louisiana oyster.

"We're promoting seafood, and what better seafood to promote than Gulf seafood. And just to show people that it's safe, healthy, as good as it's always been," said Chef Chris Lusk of Cafe Adelaide. "It's some of the best seafood in the world,”

When all is said and done, organizers hope the week of events will lead to legislation that will help the seafood industry -- and the coast -- overcome the oil spill.

 

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