U.S. catfish star of Alagasco show

Published 11:55 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chef Leslie Bailey, right, addresses the audience on how to prepare one of her recipes Tuesday night at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center in Selma during the annual Alagasco Cooking Show. -- Chris Wasson

Catfish, raised and farmed in the United States, was the main attraction at the 47th annual Alagasco Cooking Show Tuesday at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center. BroadSouth Communications and its radio subsidiaries, WDXX and WHBB, produced the annual event, sponsored by Algasco.

“Celebrating Alabama’s Best” served as this year’s theme, with the capacity crowd learning about unique and delicious recipes prepared by Chef Leslie Bailey of Extraordinary Events of Montgomery.

The Catfish Institute and the Alabama Catfish Producers Association teamed up with a number of Alabama-based food producers to foster consumer awareness about the multitude of food items grown and produced in Alabama.

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Virginia Whitfield of the food trade organization, Buy Alabama’s Best, helped support the event that her organization has been a part of for two years.

“I am especially appreciative of WDXX and WHBB for spotlighting Alabama’s Best. Since Whitfield Foods/ALAGA SYRUP, Inc., at 105 years old, is the oldest food company in Alabama, all things Alabama are dear to my heart,” Whitfield said. “These Alabama food companies have contributed over $250,000 from their sales, to Children’s Hospital for curing childhood cancer. Every time you buy an Alabama food product, you make a difference you can’t begin to imagine.”

A high percentage of U.S. produced catfish is raised in Alabama with much of that production concentrated in the western portion of central Alabama.

Fran and David Pearce of Pearce Catfish Farms, who pioneered commercial catfish production in Dallas County during the early 1970s, were among the sponsor attendees. They were instrumental in involving The Catfish Institute and the Alabama Catfish Producers in this year’s promotion.

“This event is a natural for our industry,” David Pearce said. “The Catfish Institute does a great job for us all over the country. We’re glad to be able to involve them in our local community directly with consumers and the other great Alabama products.”

Mitt Walker, director of the Alabama Farmer Federation’s catfish division, said purchasing Alabama-produced products further strengthens the state’s economy.

“We’re excited to be a part of tradition rich events like this that put U.S. Farm Raised Catfish and other Alabama-grown commodities right in front of target consumers,” Walker said. “Buying Alabama products strengthens our local economy and keeps Alabamians working.”

“Captain Catfish” greeted the guests and served samples of Cajun fried catfish. In addition to the U.S. farm raised catfish, Bailey incorporated other Alabama products into a number of the recipes. Such items included: Alaga Syrup and Hot Sauce, Bud’s Best Cookies, Sister Shubert’s Homemade Rolls, Zeigler Hams and Southern Flavor Seasonings.