Chefs compete for 5th annual Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off crown

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Friday evening, chefs got an opportunity to show off their seafood skills and represent South Mississippi. The event had a bit of a twist this year, fundraising and bringing awareness.

"We decided that during this event, it would be a good time to bring awareness to the hungry and those people who are food insecure and raise money for a good cause at the same time," DMR Public Information Officer Melissa Scallan said.

Scallan says it's also about celebrating seafood life in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Biloxi is the seafood capital of the world, and so we want to get together, we want to celebrate our seafood, our local seafood, Gulf, wildlife seafood and get together to celebrate that. Get people aware of how important is it to use local seafood," said Scallan.

Chef Danie Rodriguez, of Capones Italian Ristorante, was one of the chefs that got a chance to show off her seafood cooking skills. She's also the first woman to ever compete in all five years of the cook-off.

"My motivation is just simply because I love this job. You either love it or you hate it, and I love the job and so you work your whole life around what you love," Rodriguez said.

She hopes that after this competition, she can send out a message to other women in the culinary profession to go after what they enjoy and love.

"I think for any female chef or any female that thinks they want to be a chef, you have to know that if you want it that bad you can do it. Even though it's a hard job, if you want it you'll make it work," Rodriguez said.

This year's seafood cook-off champion was Garry Hawkins of 1908 Provisions. He will advance and be able to represent the state of Mississippi in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans.

Placing second was Chef Danie Rodriguez and in third place, Chef Jeremy Noffke of Purple Parrot Cafe.

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