The trip gave Nieporent a great time. Tourism and seafood officials in south Louisiana hope it, and others like it, will help the state's fisheries and tourist industry recover from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
"We don't have a product problem, we have a perception problem, said Kelly Schulz, a vice president with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Louisiana normally has $2.4 billion in annual seafood sales, keeping about 27,000 residents working.
Many of those workers have been idle since the Deep Water Horizon exploded last spring. And with the perception that seafood was polluted by the oil, getting back to work won't be easy, Smith said.
Biologists from independent laboratories began sampling seafood from the Gulf off Louisiana's coast immediately after the spill, and tests are still going on, Watkins said.
"If you examine the results we have received, none of our samples have come anywhere close to the FDA 'levels of concern,"' Watkins said.
Food is a major draw for tourists visiting southern Louisiana, said Jim Hutchinson, Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Tourism. And although no oil came ashore within 100 miles of New Orleans, many people think it did, and think restaurants cannot serve seafood from the Gulf.
"We worked so hard to get back after Hurricane Katrina," Hutchinson said.
That's why the state is recruiting well-known chefs and restaurateurs, a campaign funded by part of the $5 million BP gave the city to help offset the damage from the spill.
"We are hoping to make them into ambassadors for New Orleans," Schulz said.
James Beard award-winning chef Dave Pasternack visited New Orleans earlier this fall, going fishing and bow-fishing with New Orleans chef Donald Link. The pair then cooked up their catch and served it to a group of journalist and others.
A number of chefs from New York, the northeast, and other areas, have been targeted and will be brought in, Schulz said.
Nieporent was taken into the Gulf, where his group caught 30 fish, which were later cooked.
"We can certainly talk to our customers, our chefs, everyone, and say we know firsthand there should be no stigma on the seafood from here," Nieporent said.