And while he didn’t win, chef Gil Turturici of Kodiak’s Chart Room Restaurant can still count himself among the state’s best.
The competition, hosted by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, took place in the train depot at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
The winner, Christopher Vane of Crush Bistro in Anchorage, moves on to compete in the Great American Cook-Off in New Orleans in August.
Each participant had an hour to prepare his or her best seafood plate before presenting it to the judges.
Turturici was among those selected from 29 applicants.
“The most important thing for us is that we’re doing it for Kodiak,” Turturici said. “We’re doing this for the fishermen, servicemen and all the locals that live here.”
Although Turturici has only been in Kodiak for eight months, he has years of experience preparing seafood. He grew up in a small town in Oregon, where he learned to cook and frequently used seafood in his dishes.
Turturici’s dish was a modern preparation of fruit of the sea.
“We designed a specific dish that only uses local Kodiak products, because we’re going to the competition to represent Kodiak,” Turturici said. “It’s a very unique dish consisting of a lot of seafood.”
Turturici and his assistant chef Gregory Wilson practiced making the dish several times before the competition to get the timing down.
Turturici’s dish used cutting-edge techniques used in major restaurants around the world. The team made a spaghetti dish with halibut stock and scallops. Milk left over from the scallops was used to create a sauce, and Turturici also used some salmon to give the dish a salty flavor of the sea.
A committee of six judges, comprised of well-known chefs from around the world, judged the entries.
The judges looked at three categories when evaluating the dishes: presentation, creativity and flavor.
All chefs brought their own ingredients to the competition. The only requirement was to use Alaska seafood, and to make eight plates: six for the judges, one for a photo, and one for the live audience to see.
The start times for the contestants were staggered by 10-minute increments so judges could have a new plate to try every 10 minutes.
ASMI has been competing in the New Orleans competition for years, and wanted to hold the competition to find the right candidate for the August event.
“It’s a good opportunity to showcase great seafood and also terrific chefs,” ASMI communications director Tyson Fick said.
• First: Christopher Vane, Crush Bistro, Anchorage
• Second: Kevin Lane, Alaska culinary academy, AVTEC Seward
• Third: Christy Skafelstad, Chipper Fish, Hoonah