Chef ‘Panini’ Pete Blohme chats all things Oyster Cookoff


Local chef and restaurateur, Pete Blohme or Panini Pete as many people know him, is quite possibly the busiest chef in Lower Alabama. If he isn’t at one of his four restaurants, recording a Hot Off the Press podcast episode, or on Guy’s Grocery Games, you might find him at the airport jetting overseas to serve our military with the Messlords.

This weekend Blohme will be one of several celebrity chefs at the 12th Annual Hangout Oyster Cookoff, Craft Spirits & Beer weekend in Gulf Shores. The two-day event showcases the talents and tastes of the best chefs from the Southeast for an afternoon of oysters, spirits, craft beer, and music right on the beach.

While the name is Oyster Cookoff there’s plenty of food to sample if you aren’t a fan of the bivalve.

“We are really trying to grow the event and get the community and region involved and take it beyond the oyster. The reality is there are people that say they don’t eat oysters. It’s not for everyone. When you throw in the barbecue and other food elements it draws more people. This year the competing teams also get to do an anything goes dish. There will be some different food to taste,” Blohme said.

Blohme has watched the Oyster Cookoff grow immensely over its 12 years.

“I was there year one. The first few years I was involved as a judge when it was really small and just a few local teams. Then I got back involved five or six years ago when it really started to ramp up. I have seen it grow to where it has become a really nice event. They are bringing in really good talent and great teams and are paying tribute to a lot of the farm raised oysters,” said Blohme.

“One thing I love about what Shaul Zislin does is he creates a good event for participants and for the public. Everything he does makes it a first-class festival,” he said.

Stop by the North American Oyster Showcase and sample oysters flown in from Pacific Northwest, New England, the Maritimes, British Columbia, the mid-Atlantic, Baja Peninsula and right here from the Gulf Coast.

Legendary musical act the Jimmy Hall and the Muscle Shoals All-Stars will be playing in the background, as you sample dishes, visit live cooking demonstrations, meet and greet at book signings, and watch the competitors go head-to-head.

The Oyster Cookoff will feature restaurant and amateur competition teams competing for cash prizes and bragging rights. Teams are required to cook a minimum of 24 dozen oysters in each of the three categories: Rockefeller, Gulf Coast Cajun and a raw oyster. Visitors will be able to sample the creations throughout the day.

For the first time Blohme will have a team competing in the cookoff.

“I have never competed at the Oyster Cookoff, but we are putting a team in this year because I have nothing to do with the judging. We didn’t do oysters in the past, but we do them here at Sunset Pointe and at Ed’s Seafood Shed so it makes since for us to be involved. Every one of my executive chefs are coming down so we are going to have a power team. It’s an opportunity for my guys to break away, do something different and flex their muscles,” Blohme said.

The fun kicks off Friday, Nov. 1, starting at 6 p.m. with the Kickoff Party where you can sample some of the rarest spirits to reach the Gulf Coast. Bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle will be paired with high-end barbecue, prepared by some of the hottest pit masters in the U.S.

Rums like Matusalem will be paired with Caribbean cuisine, and Mexican food will be paired with boutique tequilas including Avion 44. Not to mention, you can tour the Craft Beer village featuring All-American gourmet grilled food with the best burgers and hotdogs on the beach. Craft Spirits, Craft Beer & Live Music all night. Tickets are $20 and tasting ticket booklets can be purchased for $30.

Saturday, Nov. 2, the fun will begin at 11 a.m. Eat all the oysters and specialty dishes, watch demos from Michael Symon, Aaron Sanchez, Chris Lilly, Pete Blohme and more. Admission tickets are $10 and tasting ticket booklets are $30 for 15 tickets.