Chefs find relief after U.S. Gulf oil leak stops

Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:10pm EDT
 
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - U.S. chefs breathed a collective sigh of relief after BP stopped its massive oil leak in the seafood-rich U.S. Gulf a month ago, but they must still deal with tight supply and high prices in the coming months.

Prices of nearly all fish have been falling. In a few cases prices have dropped by as much as 50 percent from their peaks shortly after the spill erupted nearly four months ago.

The start of the white shrimp season in Louisiana this week should inject a wave of much needed supply to restaurants that serve gumbos and other seafood dishes, according to some chefs.

"Things are getting a bit better every day," said John Currence, who owns four restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi.

Seafood costs are dropping gradually but they are still running well above average seasonal levels as demand for prized items such as Gulf oysters has outstripped supply.

The Gulf of Mexico produces about 70 percent of the shrimp and oysters caught in the United States.

"We still have a hard time keeping oysters on hand," said John Besh, who owns six restaurants in New Orleans.

Appetite for crab cakes and oyster "po-boys", or sandwiches, has not abated even though some customers had questioned the safety and origin of the crabs and oysters.   Continued...

 
<p>An employee of C.F. Gollott &amp; Son Seafood holds up a white shrimp for deheading and processing in D'Iberville, Mississippi June 3, 2010. REUTERS/Sean Gardner</p>