by Anneli Rufus
An Oakland chef is off to the Gulf tonight to help get the region's seafood industry back on its feet nearly six months after the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill.
Dean Dupuis is the executive chef at Picán in Oakland, whose watchphrase is "Southern ... unleashed." Having worked previously at high-profile Atlanta restaurants, Dupuis will spend tomorrow in New Orleans with White House representatives, and members of the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board. Also on hand will be fellow chefs John Besh, John Folse, and Rick Tramonto, and others.
First, they'll attend a briefing by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to certify that Gulf seafood is safe to eat.
Then the chefs will head out onto the water to see Gulf seafood in its home environment, before it becomes food. Tomorrow night, the chefs will cook seafood dishes for a “block party" attended by local fishermen and other residents who have returned to a Katrina-devastated area of New Orleans that has been rebuilt by volunteers.
Immediately following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April, representatives from the FDA, the EPA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) set up protocols to ensure that water and seafood are extensively tested and re-tested in an effort to ascertain that areas re-opened to fishing are safe. But a frightened public presents a challenge for an industry that has been hard-hit in more ways than one. The chefs' visit to the Big Easy this weekend is part of a concentrated effort to tell the world that the Gulf is open for business again.