skip to main content skip to main navigation
Photo of Seafood Cook Off Partners - Click to enlarge
Winner of January Cook-off to Represent State in National Competition
For Immediate Release: October 23, 2007
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today put out a call to all seafood chefs in the state to share their expertise in preparing seafood and help promote the Jersey Seafood brand.

Secretary Kuperus kicked off the 2008 Jersey Seafood Challenge with an event that featured creative seafood dishes from Viking Fresh Off the Hook in Barnegat Light as examples of recipes that chefs might prepare during the cook-off scheduled for January 15, 2008 at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing.

“New Jersey is known for its clams, scallops, lobsters, blue claw crabs, fluke and many more and also for our talented chefs who know traditional and innovative ways to prepare this seafood,” said Kuperus.  “Now, we are asking professional chefs to come forward and match their skills against their peers to help people understand the quality of Jersey Seafood, the health benefits and the ease of preparation.”

Photo of Secretary Kuperus inspecting Jersey Seafood dishes at Seafood Challenge KickoffThe chefs will be required to prepare their signature dishes focusing on Jersey Seafood and a “Down the Shore New Jersey” family platter that showcases simple seafood recipes that can be prepared by home cooks.  The “Down the Shore” portion of the competition is an important new focus and helps to meet the growing consumer interest in purchasing local products and providing healthy family meals.  

Secretary Kuperus inspects Jersey Seafood dishes at Seafood Challenge Cook-off

New Jersey commercial fishermen and fish farmers produce more than 100 different species of fish and shellfish.  A list of possible Jersey Seafood selections, all harvested locally, is being provided for chefs to consider for their entries.  The list includes: American lobster, Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic sea scallops, Atlantic surf clams, Bigeye tuna, black sea bass, blue crab, Bluefin tuna, bluefish, eastern oyster, hard clams, mahimahi, monkfish, North Atlantic swordfish, skate, squid, summer flounder, tilefish and Yellowfin tuna.  The list can be found at

The winner of the Jersey Seafood Challenge will go to New Orleans to compete in the Great American Seafood Cook-off in August of 2008.   The event is limited to 20 chefs with the champion being named King or Queen of American Seafood.  The cook-off is televised by the Food Network and is part of the Louisiana Foodservice Expo.

Organizations helping to coordinate the seafood cooking competition include:  Garden State Seafood Association; Slow Food-New Jersey; Eat-Drink New Jersey; New Jersey Restaurant Association; New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium and New Jersey Sea Grant; Rutgers Cooperative Extension; and New Jersey Chapters of the American Culinary Federation.

The Seafood Challenge continues the partnerships between the Department and these groups.  For example, the New Jersey Restaurant Association membership in 2005 approved a resolution pledging to work with the Department of Agriculture to offer customers New Jersey seafood and produce when in season and available.  The NJRA is a 1,200-member trade association representing restaurants in the state.  The Department then developed signage that the restaurants could display that declared, “This restaurant is proud to serve New Jersey produced and harvested products when in season.”

New Jersey has a vibrant seafood industry, with the value of the 2006 catch $145.6 million.  The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that for every one dollar of landed value, six dollars are generated in the overall economy.

New Jersey is home to six major commercial fishing ports, with four ranked among the top fifty ports in the nation in terms of value of the harvest:  Cape May brought in 89.2 million pounds valued at $46.3 million in 2006; Barnegat Light landed $25.5 million of fish, primarily sea scallops and monkfish; Point Pleasant’s 2006 catch of 25.8 million pounds was valued at $22.6 million; and Atlantic City brought in $24.2 million, mostly ocean quahogs and surf clams.

The top species by dollar value harvested in New Jersey included:  sea scallops -$58.5 million; surf clams-$25 million; hard clams-$7.6 million; blue crabs-$6.0 million; ocean quahogs-$5.9 million; fluke-$5.0 million; monkfish-$4.5 million; Atlantic mackerel-$9.3 million; longfin squid $1.8 million; and American lobster- $2.5 million. 

For more information about New Jersey seafood, visit the Jersey Seafood website at

For chefs interested in participating in the Jersey Seafood Challenge, visit: