On the spot: Chris Lusk, Café Adelaide
By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
07 June, 2010
Chris Lusk, executive chef at Café Adelaide, located in the Loews New Orleans Hotel, was recently crowned the “King of Louisiana Seafood.” Lusk and 11 other Louisiana chefs participated in the annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off during the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience in late May.
The title of “King of Louisiana Seafood” has never been more important, as Lusk will serve as a Louisiana seafood ambassador in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, perhaps the worst environmental disaster in the nation’s history. Lusk will represent Louisiana in the seventh annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off on 7 August and will join other Louisiana chefs at the 35th annual National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fish Fry in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
On the Spot talked to Lusk about the oil spill, its effect on Louisiana’s seafood culture and his restaurant’s seafood-heavy menu.
Blank: How has oil spill affected what you menu?
Lusk: Everything on my menu is Gulf seafood, besides the salmon, which is from Scotland. We have everything available right now. I stay in touch with my seafood purveyors every day and am watching the news. I have a supplier in Grand Isle that brings in shrimp four times a week, for example. I have black drum, tuna, grouper, crab, alligator and oysters. Shrimp prices have gone up, but fish prices have stayed pretty consistent.
Which seafood items could be impacted by the oil spill in the future?
I haven’t had to take anything off the menu currently. If that happens, I would look at where else I am going to get it, or take it off the menu. My purveyors would help me get other seafood. They have closed a lot of the oyster beds [in the Gulf], but I haven’t tried to get other oysters yet. I don’t believe there are a lot of East Coast oysters available right now, but we are looking into it. The oysters here are the best things I have ever had.
What kind of concerns do guests have about Louisiana seafood?
You get a lot more questions now, such as “Is it safe to eat?” I tell guests that we wouldn’t serve anything that was not safe to eat, if it wasn’t. Most of the people who ask that are not from here.
What is your role at the NOAA Fish Fry and the Great American Seafood Cook-Off?
We will do as much as we can to promote Louisiana seafood and that it is safe. I don’t want there to be a misconception that we are just serving whatever we can get. If something happened in which we couldn’t use local seafood, we would find something else and prepare it. At the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, people will be watching what we are doing and what we are utilizing. I think it will be great to showcase the product that we do have, and that it is still safe and of the highest quality.
What was your winning dish at the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off?All Foodservice & Retail stories >
It was a play on a Vietnamese noodle bowl [called the Louisiana Shrimp and Crab Noodle Bowl], but we used more local ingredients, including shrimp and blue crab. We also served a fried spring roll with blue crab, sweet corn, Camembert cheese and fresh thyme, served with Tabasco soy sauce and agave nectar.
07 June, 2010