Enjoying seafood from Louisiana

October 14, 2010 10:45:42 AM PDT
Since the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, many people are worried about buying and eating seafood from Louisiana and other Gulf states.But now, things are improving, says Frank Randol, restaurateur and seafood wholesaler from Lafayette, Louisiana. "In most of Louisiana, life is continuing as it has for generations. While the situation has affected some areas of coastal Louisiana, the music, food and outdoors still flourish throughout most of the state." Frank says.

"Louisianans who contribute to the unique culture are distraught by the spill, but their pride for their home and enthusiasm for fun still generates a thrilling atmosphere of live music, fun and great food. All of the things that visitors come to enjoy in Louisiana remain unchanged by the cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico," he adds.

Frank is being honored in Chicago on Thursday week as he's inducted into Shaw's Oyster Hall of Fame, www.shawscrabhouse.com. He says the seafood served in restaurants remains outstanding in quality and variety. "From the boat to the kitchen, Louisiana seafood is closely monitored on its journey to your plate," Frank adds.

Here are some things Frank says you should know if you're buying seafood to cook at home or ordering it off the menu at a Chicago area restaurant:

  • Louisiana crawfish are a freshwater shellfish species and are not impacted by the cleanup efforts.

  • Local seafood is readily available and is continuously tested.

  • The federal government and the Louisiana seafood industry are taking extraordinary steps to ensure that Gulf seafood is safe. Hundreds of tests have been conducted on thousands of samples collected from open fishing waters in the Gulf, and 100 percent of reports have shown Gulf seafood is safe.

  • While there is a strong phobia resonating that everything from the Gulf is tainted--that's just not the case. Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is being put under the microscope like no other kind on the market. And this extensive monitoring and testing continues daily so we can assure consumers that Gulf seafood is 100 percent safe, Frank says.

    Seafood impact

  • Louisiana produces 30 percent of the domestic catch for the continental United States seafood.

  • Louisiana produces 70 percent of the catch from the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Louisiana seafood industry employs more than 27,000 people

  • Seafood is a $2.4 billion industry in Louisiana.

  • Louisiana produces more shrimp, oyster, blue crab, crawfish and alligator than any other state.

  • Louisiana is #2 in fin fish behind Alaska.

  • 77 percent of seafood comes from the area northwest of the oil spill.

  • 70 biologists at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are routinely monitoring and testing samples of fish, shrimp and oysters to determine the availability of fishing grounds.

  • Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and commercial fisherman are keeping close communication to report fishing availability and quality.

  • Local seafood is readily available and is continuously tested.

    Crawfish

  • Louisiana crawfish are a freshwater shellfish species and are not impacted by the Gulf of Mexico situation.

  • Louisiana leads the nation in crawfish production.

  • More than 90 percent of the crawfish consumed come from Louisiana.

    Oysters

  • The oyster ban has been especially distressing. Louisiana's 1.6 million acres of public oyster beds, and more than half of its 400,000 privately leased acres, are off limits.

  • Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has delayed the re-opening of public oyster grounds until November

  • In a taste tests, 85 percent of the time consumers chose Louisiana oysters over others sold in the US.

  • 70 percent of the oysters caught in the US come from the Gulf Coast.

  • AmeriPure, one of America's largest suppliers of half-shell Gulf oysters, has temporarily stopped operations.

  • Oyster supplies may resume when public oyster areas are opened in Texas.

    Shrimp

  • Each year Louisiana shrimpers catch 90 - 120 million pounds of both brown and white shrimp.

  • One year's shrimp catch, strung end to end, would extend from New York to Atlanta - more than twice.

  • 69 percent of the domestic, US shrimp are harvested from the Gulf waters.

  • The current tonnage of shrimp coming into Louisiana coastal ports is only one third of the 2009 harvest, sharply reduced because of precautionary closures of prime shrimp harvesting areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • "That doesn't mean the shrimp aren't there, just means the boats can't get it," said Rusty Guade', Louisiana Sea Grant Area Fishery Agent for Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Orleans Parishes.

    Crab

  • Louisiana leads the nation in production of both hard and soft-shell crabs.

  • If you've eaten crab on the East Coast, chances are it's from Louisiana. Louisiana is the top shipper of live number one 1 male crabs to the Atlantic coast market.

    NEWS RELEASE

    SHAW'S CRAB HOUSE HOSTS OYSTER HALL OF FAME DINNER Event highlights 22d annual Royster with the Oyster Festival

    (Chicago, IL)-- Shaw's Crab House is honoring Louisiana restaurateur and food wholesaler Frank Beaullieu Randol. The man behind the award-winning, crabmeat Shaw's packs into its cakes is being inducted into Shaw's Oyster Hall of Fame. Randol will be toasted at The Oyster Hall of Fame Dinner on Thursday, October 14; the celebration is the highlight of the 22d annual Royster with the Oyster Festival held at Shaw's, 21 E. Hubbard, Chicago. The menu will feature oyster recipes from Randol's Restaurant & Cajun Dance Hall, including his famous char-broiled oysters.

    Frank played an instrumental role in Shaw's menu from the start. "I joined the team months before the restaurant opened," he says of the 25-year-strong relationship. "From the start, my goal was to provide the "freshest and very best" crabmeat around. I was, and am, committed to complete consistency and quality."

    Randol-- longtime friend of Shaw's Chef/Partner Yves Roubaud--favors eating in the restaurant's Oyster Bar when he's in town. "Whenever I'm in Chicago, it's the first place I hit," concedes the private pilot and water sport enthusiast. There, you'll catch him noshing on oysters Rockefeller and seasonal oysters from the raw bar.

    Randol began buying and selling Louisiana seafood wholesale in 1971. He opened Randol's Restaurant in Lafayette, in 1979, moving his booming seafood processing business to the restaurant site in 1980. In 1984, Randol went on to establish a special events and touring division.

    Randol's iconic, namesake restaurant --which raises its own crawfish and crabs and grows its own fresh herbs --is steeped in Cajun culture. It is known nationally and internationally as a family-friendly go-to for Cajun food, live Cajun music and dancing. Its present location, on the former site of Long Plantation, exists on land that was held by the family for generations.

    A former U.S. Army First Lieutenant and member of the Air Defense Artillery, Randol's community involvement runs deep. Over the years, he served as board member of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and the Lafayette BiCentennial Commission, where he chaired the River Parade. He also was a board member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. Frank's son, Rusty, grew up immersed in the family business and joined the operations full time in 2000, although Frank himself remains active in all aspects.

    Randol will be honored at Shaw's Hall of Fame Dinner starts at 6:30 pm with an oyster reception and specially prepared multi-course menu with accompanying wines. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. at Shaw's Chicago location and cost $79 per person. For reservations, visit www.shawscrabhouse.com or call 312.527.2722.

    ROYSTER WITH THE OYSTER: IT'S ON AT SHAW'S CRAB HOUSE!

    (Chicago and Schaumburg, ) Shaw's Crab House is hosting its 22nd Annual Royster with the Oyster Festival this week in Chicago and Schaumburg. The fest kicks off with nightly oyster specials and Oyster Slurping Contests, starting at 6 p.m. in the Oyster Bar at both locations. The nightly Slurp-Off during Oyster fest week invites participants to slurp down a dozen oysters as fast as they can, hands-free, with the goal to advance to Friday's Grand Slurp-Off for a chance to win a grand prize of $1,000. The Grand Slurp-Off will be held during the famous Tent Party in Chicago on Friday, October 15. The Slurp-off is held at 7 pm; the Tent Party runs from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. outside of Shaw's Chicago at 21 E. Hubbard.

    Through Friday, diners at Shaw's in Schaumburg will enjoy a landmark Oyster Deal: raw Oysters on the half shell for 25 cents each. The by-the-piece oyster special will take place in the Oyster Bar from 3 to 6 p.m. Also during Oyster fest Week, diners can order six fresh, cold water oysters on the half-shell for $7 per half dozen or $14 per dozen and enter to win a dinner for 10. The winner will be announced on Monday, October 18.

    Shaw's hosts a special Oyster Hall of Fame Dinner to Louisiana restaurateur Frank Randol with an oyster reception and specially prepared multi-course meal paired with wines. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. at Shaw's Chicago location, priced at $79 per person. For reservations, visit www.shawscrabhouse.com or call 312.527.2722.

    More than 5,000 happy oyster lovers attended Shaw's Tent Party in 2009. Help out the Shedd Aquarium by attending the party on Friday, October 15 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. in front of Shaw's on Hubbard Street. A portion of the $10 entry donation goes to the Shedd Aquarium) and gives guests the chance to enjoy oysters on the half shell and boat-loads of food, beer and wine, and live music. The big tent party will be emceed by 93XRT celebrity DJ Lin Brehmer. Some of Chicago's favorite bands will be featured:

    3:00 - 4:30 p.m. John Kattke 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. Linsey Alexander 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. Special 20's

    Shaw's Crab House is located at 21 E. Hubbard, Chicago; 312.527.2722 and 1900 E. Higgins, Schaumburg; 847.517.2722. Visit the website at www.shawscrabhouse.com, tweet with The Shaw's Mermaid at www.twitter.com/shellyfromshaws or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shawscrabhouse.

    ABOUT FRANK RANDOL

    Frank Randol was born in 1946 and is a 1964 graduate of Cathedral High School. He obtained his B.S. in Business Administration from Spring Hill College in 1968. From 1968-1970, Frank served in the U.S. Army as 1st Lt. and Air Defense Artillery. His community involvement in many civic and social organizations includes the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce as a board member, Leadership Lafayette III, Lafayette BiCentennial Commission, where he chaired the River Parade, Louisiana Restaurant Association as a board member and Acadiana Restaurant Association as president and board member. Frank is also a private pilot and enjoys golf and water sports. His son Rusty was born in 1979 and is a graduate of St. Thomas More and UL Lafayette's college of business. Rusty is a commercial pilot and also enjoys water sports. Rusty maintains many industry licenses including FDA HACCP certification that is required to run Randol's seafood processing operations.

    Frank started out with a seafood wholesale business in 1971, buying Louisiana seafood and selling it nationally, and established a seafood processing plant in Henderson, La. the next year. He opened Randol's Restaurant in 1979, and the seafood processing plant was moved to the Randol's site in 1980. In 1984, Frank established a special events division for the restaurant with national touring (Cajun Fest). His son Rusty grew up around the family business and joined the restaurant operations full time in 2000. He is active in all areas of the business.

    Randol's Restaurant is steeped in Cajun culture and known nationally and internationally as the place for Cajun food, live Cajun music, Cajun dancing and family fun. The present location is on land that has been held by the family for generations and is the former site of Long Plantation. Randol's motto "Where the young and the old let the good times roll. Laissez les bon temps rouler," is what the restaurant is all about. The message is conveyed on Randol's own Cajun music television show.

    Plans for the next generation of Randol's Restaurant have been put on hold since Katrina. Plans include expanding and renovating the restaurant and creating a unique market concept focusing on successful local merchants. Phase 1 and 2 call for the addition of an upscale farmers market to include a home and garden center, produce market, specialty meat market, bakery, seafood market, wine shop, restaurant and event center and art gallery.


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