on September 21, 2012 at 10:10 AM, updated September 26, 2012 at 1:04 PM
Martie Duncan isn't yet entirely comfortable with the fame that comes with being a finalist in "The Next Food Network Star."
She hesitates to talk about her new found street cred. She prefers the term "notoriety" to "fame."
But Duncan, who still lives in Birmingham, will be called on to provide part the celebrity portion of the program when Dauphin Island plays host on Oct. 13 to a gala celebration dubbed "Science, Celebrity and Seafood."
It also pairs up with the second annual Dauphin Island Art Trail that features 30 artists spread around the island at nine different locations.
The seafood event, which runs from 6-10 p.m., will be held in the spacious and beautiful confines of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Estuarium on the east end of the island. Its going to be an intimate affair that Duncan promises to infuse with her special brand of party planning.
She admits she has some pretty big shoes to fill in her duties as mistress of ceremonies. Last years host for a similar function on the island was none other than celebrity chef and cookbook author Alton Brown.
Its only a small irony that Duncan was Browns protege on the aforementioned Food Network competition. He shepherded her through the contest and appeared to take a special liking to her.
"Alton and I are two different personalities,"she said. "He certainly did leave a certain legacy, but what he started I'm going to continue," she said recently over coffee at a downtown Mobile shop.
The seafood event is right up her alley. She confesses to a special love for the southernmost tip of Alabama, a love that has grown over the years. "I love coming down here, especially in the fall of the year," she said.
The restorative powers to be found south of Interstate 10 even aided her in overcoming a difficult patch in her professional life.
In 2006, she said, she lost a company that she had started and was feeling especially punchy. So she
loaded up and headed to Fairhope, to a little bungalow that she frequents and holed up to get her mind right.
It was then, she said, that she set her aims on something much larger than shed ever done before. Right then she set a course that ultimately led her to the Food Network gig.
"Yes, Im always glad to be here," she said. In fact, she has plans to come back at the end of October for some rest and relaxation.
When the invite came to do the Dauphin Island event she didn't hesitate to accept, but she did feel compelled to entertain some help from some important friends. "This party is not big enough, what we need to do is turn this thing into a "Martie Party," she said, quoting one of her favorite sayings.
The first thing she did was to seek our another famous Alabamian who also has roots in Lower Alabama -- Taylor Hicks.
"Taylor tweeted me while I was on the Food Network and that meant a lot to me. He offered me a lot of support at that time and when I asked him to join the party down here he generously accepted," she said.
The former American Idol will be on hand to perform an acoustic set in what Duncan described as an "up close and personal performance."
Along with Hicks will be some all-star chef talent, as well.
Chef Pete Bloheme, owner of Panini Petes in Fairhope and now in downtown Mobile, will be on hand whipping up some of his signature dishes.
Chef Steve Zucker, executive chef for Bob Baumhower's string of restaurants, will be there preparing some of his Louisiana-inspired specialties.
Chef Garry Anderson from the Hotel at Auburn University will be in attendance, along with a group of his students from the schools excellent hospitality program.
Wintzell's Restaurant will be on hand supplying fresh "boutique" oysters and Chef Marc Walden from Little House Bistro in Mobile will prepare his famous bacon cheesecake. Che Tony Nicholas from the Hungry Owl in West Mobile will round out the line up of celebrity chefs.
"All the chefs were asked to prepare one of their signature seafood dishes," Duncan said.
Tickets are a mere $100 each, but they are limiting ticket sales to 250 lucky souls. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dauphinislandtourism.com. For information call 251-861-TRIP (8747) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Auburn Assistant Professor Doctor William (Bill) C. Walton who will talk about his innovations in oyster farming as part of the science portion of the program.
He presently operates an experimental farm in Grand Bay that produces top-quality oysters of a consistent size that will eventually be sold to raw bars and restaurants across the country.