GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - There’s a new world champion chef on the Gulf Coast.
Jackie Seavey, the executive sous chef at Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport, beat out 491 other teams to win the top place in the World Food Championship's Final Table Competition in New Orleans.
The competition was in mid-May, but the announcement came Saturday morning during the airing of the final episode on network television.
“When I found out that I won, I was just glad it was over,” she said. “I mean, that’s how stressed out I was. It was a very hard challenge, and then, after that, I was happy.”
So were those who gathered to celebrate with her.
“It was really cool looking around the room, everybody was crying,” Seavey said. “Chef Crabtree was crying, my husband was crying, and everybody was crying. I think I was just in shock.”
Seavey, who has been with Island View Casino since 2006, made the Final Table Top 10 in The World Food Championship by winning first place in the World Open Chili Championship last November in Orange Beach, Alabama.
In the final challenge for the top three, competitors had to create an original appetizer for Antoine’s Restaurant. Seavey’s was a duck canape, a play on chicken and waffles.
“I’m always trying to invent different things,” she said. “And I just thought that was something that I could execute.”
She did. The appetizer will be put on the brunch menu at Antoine’s sometime next week.
“She has just evolved into something spectacular,” said Island View Casino Resort Owner Rick Carter. “And, I’m so proud of her and proud of my whole staff. Everybody hangs in here and like she said, one big family. I’m a lucky guy to have the team I’ve got.”
Her team included chef Deborah Thomas and her boss, executive chef David Crabtree.
“I only placed third in seafood, and I was a little disappointed,” Crabtree said. “But then when Jackie won first and we knew she was going to the Final Table, the first thing she said to me was, ‘You got to come with me.’ ”
While Seavey doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, she can’t avoid it now.
“We’re going to make sure it means a lot,” Carter said. “We’re fixing to put this pretty lady on billboards all over the place, and let ‘em know what kind of good cooks I’ve got here at Island View.”
Seavey said most of her prize money will go to paying off her home.