Jun 28, 2010 8:12 PM by Chris Welty
GRAND ISLE, La. (AP) - They are James Beard award winners, Food
Network stars, Top Chef consultants, and cookers of some of some of
the most prized dishes in the country.
On Monday they had a single message - stop worrying about
seafood from the Gulf of Mexico and start buying it.
"The Gulf is a big area and it's still being fished," said Tom
Colicchio, a James Beard winner and owner of Craft in New York City
and several other restaurants. He's also a judge on the television
series Top Chef. Colicchio, despite acknowledging a preference for
North Atlantic seafood, pledged to serve Louisiana seafood in his
Nearby on this barrier island on the Louisiana coast, dozens of
shrimp boats sat idle as some fishing grounds remained closed
because of the massive BP oil spill. Still, 70 percent of Gulf
waters are open and seafood in those areas is untainted, said
Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife
Barham said tests on water and seafood are being done daily.
"That's hundreds and hundreds of tests on oysters, shrimp,
The tests include checks of tissue for oil, Barham said.
"To my knowledge there has been no finding of hydrocarbons in
any seafood we've tested," he said.
The problem is the world thinks all Gulf seafood is tainted,
said Harlon Pearce, a seafood processor and chairman of the
Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
"A survey done by LSU had 57 percent of the respondents in
Louisiana saying they would be very cautious about buying our
seafood," Pearce said. "We can't afford that. In took five years
to get their market back after the (Exxon) Valdez leak."
Seafood in Louisiana is a $2.4 billion industry that supplies 30
percent of the seafood consumed in the nation.
"We have chefs from across the country here to support our
fishermen and tell the world the seafood from Louisiana is safe to
eat and as delicious as ever," said John Folse, who specializes in
Cajun cuisine. "We want to support these fishermen and we want to
get them back to work."