Rookery Chef Beau Schooler has earned some high honors in 2015. On top of being nominated for a James Beard Award earlier this year, he’s now been chosen to represent the state of Alaska in a national cooking competition.
The Great American Seafood Cook-Off will be held Aug. 8 in New Orleans. The Louisiana Seafood Marketing Board invites governors to appoint a professional chef to represent their states in an annual competition to highlight sustainable seafood from different U.S. regions.
Schooler said he was surprised by the nomination. He said he had “no forewarning, no idea this was taking place.”
But while Schooler was oblivious, the governor and his staff were paying close attention.
Grace Jang, a spokesperson for Gov. Bill Walker, said the “governor and his staff herald the Rookery and the Taqueria as among the best places to eat in the entire state.”
Schooler has prepared meals at the request of the governor before, catering receptions or preparing coursed dinners for smaller groups.
“They have me at the house pretty often … that’s the only thing I can think of,” Schooler said. That and maybe the spate of media attention he and the restaurants he co-owns have received recently.
Schooler uses sustainable Alaskan foods frequently, from fresh-caught salmon and halibut to foraged plants.
“I think, as a cook, I want to try to have an identity,” he said. “I try to do Alaskan foods and promote Alaskan ingredients — it’s my way of establishing that.”
Schooler already knows what he’ll prepare for the competition.
It will involve fresh sockeye salmon and a housemade sockeye salmon chorizo, along with chile and lime flavors.
Using the spicy chorizo with the fresh salmon is “a way to get different flavors out of the same fish.” The sockeye chorizo can be sampled now at The Taqueria, the newest restaurant Schooler co-owns and cooks at.
Jang said the governor “is proud an Alaskan of Beau Schooler’s culinary talent and expertise will represent the state well in Louisiana.”