Gulf Coast Restoration Organization Press Release - Three of Florida’s finest seafood chefs took their talents to Capitol Hill as a way of showing Congress and the nation that Florida seafood is safe to eat. The three chefs prepared their best dishes for the Florida Seafood Celebration at Florida House in Washington, DC.
Chef Jim Shirley of the Fish House in Pensacola prepared “Grits a Ya Ya”. Chef Josh Butler, Executive Chef for Florida’s Governor’s Mansion, made “Dog Island Grouper Sliders”. And Chef Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean and winner of the Great American Seafood Cook-off, prepared “Sebastian Inlet Clams BBLT”.
Among the taste testers at the event in Washington were Florida Senator Bill Nelson and Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio.
“Fresh caught seafood has attracted visitors to Florida for nearly 500 years and it is vitally important that our elected leaders at every level understand just how important the seafood industry is to Florida’s economy and continue to keep tourism and seafood high on their priority lists,” said Chris Thompson, Visit Florida’s President and CEO in a press release.
The dinner, which was sponsored in part by Visit Florida, is one of many to show Florida’s commitment to recovery after the oil spill. “The extensive news coverage of the Gulf oil spill has left some consumers with the impression that Florida seafood is unavailable or in limited supply,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said. “Our state’s commercial fishermen continue to harvest seafood daily from clean, unaffected Florida waters. They have seafood to sell, and they need customers.”
BP recently committed $20 million to the Agriculture Commissioner’s office for seafood testing and marketing in Florida over the next three years.
Since the oil spill, many groups have worked to clear up misperceptions about Florida’s beaches and seafood. Former Senator Bob Graham is co-chair of the National Spill Oil Commission. He says that message needs to be consistently reinforced. “We need to get the message out loud and clear that Florida seafood is safe to eat and that Florida beaches are as pristine as ever. Florida produces the best seafood in the world, and we and our tourist guests ought to be eating it, ideally while gazing at our beautiful sandy beaches,” said Senator Graham.