Four finalists; three judges; two days; and one winner. That set the table for judging Bama’s Best Catfish July 26-27. The Green Leaf Grill in Mentone took top honors in the competition sponsored by the Alabama Catfish Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation.
The contest carried judges from Mentone, in the northeast corner of the st, south to St. Clair County’s The Ark in Riverside, crossing over to Heard’s BBQ & Soul Food in Maplesville to the last stop in Thomasville at David’s Catfish House. The contest was held to kickoff National Catfish Month, celebrated annually in August.
“It was an honor to be a finalist, but winning is just a dream come true,” said Green Leaf Grill owner Jimmy Rogers. “I was born and raised eating catfish. It’s always been on my menu, and it’s our best seller.”
Kyser said he enjoyed seeing U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish prepared by restaurant owners who are passionate about cooking for customers who love to eat catfish.
“I especially like seeing the different ways they prepared catfish – from catfish cakes to seasoned grilled catfish,” Kyser said. ““We all eat with our eyes first, and when I saw the fried and the grilled catfish at Green Leaf Grill, I couldn’t wait to bite into it. It was as good as it looked.”
Preparation and presentation by Rogers pushed Green Leaf Grill to the top for the judges, Kyser said.
McCall said each restaurant was unique, and choosing a winner was difficult.
Edwards said he enjoyed the contest, joking that he’d been practicing for it his entire life.
“I was born for this,” said the TV personality. “I love catfish. I grew up eating it, practically every single Friday. My grandmother would hold a fish fry, and often I would overindulge.”
In addition to eating delicious catfish, he said judging the event was educational.
“I learned a lot about catfish and its production,” he said. “Alabama ranks second nationally in catfish production, behind Mississippi only. Those two states, combined with Arkansas and Texas, account for 96 percent of catfish production in the U.S. It’s big business, and competition’s like this only help. Several of the restaurants said their business had increased since they were named a contest finalist. I also met some nice catfish farmers who are proud of what they raise on their farms.”
More information about Alabama catfish.