Nunez Community College hosted the first Louisiana Direct Seafood Chefs Roundtable facilitated by the LSU Ag Center and the Louisiana Sea Grant on Wednesday, February 8. The purpose of the Chefs Roundtable is to connect fisherman who produce a premium product with area chefs and future chefs—culinary arts students. Collaborations between the fishing industry and chefs are mutually beneficial, supporting Louisiana agribusiness and ensuring that high quality local seafood is available to restaurants.
Louisiana Direct Seafood is a marketing initiative administered by LSU Ag Center and Louisiana Sea Grant, with grant funding by the Louisiana Office of Community Development. This initiative is focused on quality business practices, working with fishermen to deliver a superior, sustainable product that meets rigorous standards and preserves our fisheries for generations to come.
Nunez students majoring in culinary arts as well as local fishermen and community partners attended the educational session on Wednesday, which included live demonstrations of best practices in cold chain management for getting fresh seafood to market. The LSU Ag Center and Louisiana Sea Grant have a mobile Seafood Quality Training Lab where they can provide hands-on learning about plate freezing, brine freezing, and vacuum packing of locally sourced seafood. New methods in seafood packaging help to support the quality and the price of the project, which in turn supports entrepreneurs and family businesses in the fishing and food industries.
“Our aim with this program is to create more value for local fishermen and chefs, using a renewable natural resource. We want fisherman and consumers to get more value out of the Louisiana seafood that is being caught.” explained Thomas Hymel of the LSU Ag Center.
A cooking demonstration with Chef Chad Roig, owner of Crave in Meraux, Louisiana was also a part of the day’s activities. Roig explained how he uses local seafood in his restaurant and prepared two shrimp dishes with Nunez’s culinary arts students.
“This was an incredible learning opportunity for our Nunez culinary students,” said culinary arts program manager Chef Ruth Varisco. “To be able to hear from people in all parts of the seafood industry gives our students a much more well-rounded understanding of Louisiana seafood, which will make them better chefs.”