Paige Lucas to compete in La. Seafood Cook-Off on June 19
Paige Lucas will not only be competing for herself, but could well consider herself the representative of all seafood lovers north of I-10 and south of I-20 when she vies to become the top chef in this year’s Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off. In fact, in a couple of ways, Lucas can be said to be in a “class of her own.”
The cook-off will be held in conjunction with the “Taste of Eat Lafayette” event. The chefs will square off in the Cajundome Convention Center at 5 p.m. on June 19.
Lucas owns Pork Belly’s Bar & Grill, one of Marksville’s newest restaurants. At 27, she may also be one of the youngest contestants in this year’s seafood competition.
Besides Lucas, there are 11 other chefs in the cook-off -- two from Baton Rouge, two from Lafayette, two from Shreveport and one each from New Orleans, Breaux Bridge, Charenton, Gonzales and Lake Charles.
Not only is Lucas carrying the banner for the “forgotten middle” of the state -- the “hole of the donut” -- she is also the only woman among the dozen culinary masters.
Male chefs are known to point out that most great chefs are men. That, of course, can be countered by the equally true fact that sons seldom say they miss Daddy’s cooking.
Last year’s cook-off winner was Bonnie Breaux of St. John Restaurant in St. Martinville.
The boys may be hoping to bring the title back to the “man cave,’ but Lucas will be intent on proving that maybe a woman’s place really is in the kitchen -- of her own restaurant, cooking award-winning dishes for appreciative patrons.
The other chefs are Justin Ferguson and Noah Lessard of Baton Rouge, Paul Gibson of Breaux Bridge, Scott McCue of Charenton, Joshua Hebert of Gonzales, Kris Allen and Ryan Trahan of Lafayette, Richard Brennan III of New Orleans, and Anthony Felan and Nick Simons of Shreveport.
TO REPRESENT LOUISIANA
The winner will represent Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, to be held in New Orleans in August.
The winner of last year’s national cook-off came from a familiar-sounding city -- Juneau. However, going out to eat at Lionnel Uddipa’s restaurant would be quite a drive since it is in Juneau, Alaska.
Lucas is a native of Avoyelles and learned her way around an oven at her grandparents’ elbows. She attended the Louisiana Culinary Institute. She worked many festivals and exclusive events, honing her talents.
Upon graduation, she earned her American Culinary Federation Certification. She cooked for the Cannes Film Festival in France and for the Master’s Golf Tournament in Augusta, Ga.
After living and working in other areas of the state, Lucas came home to manage the kitchen of a seafood restaurant. Two years later, she opened, Pork Belly’s, her own restaurant in Marksville.