Friday, October 27, 2006

The 27th National Oyster Cook-off

Pictured is this year's Grand Prize winner, "Frico Oyster Cups," submitted and prepared by Jack Campbell of Clakamas, Oregon. It is a treatment of fried oysters with fresh raspberries, bacon, white wine, and sugar, garnished with mint and placed in "Frico Cups," which are made of but but one ingredient, Parmesan/Reggiano cheese.

Every year since 1979, this cook-off, along with the National Oyster Shucking Contest, have been major attractions at the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival, for which the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, Maryland, is responsible with backing from numerous sponsors. Entrants from throughout the US submit well over 100 recipes annually to the St. Mary's County Department of Economic and Community Development. Three finalists and at least a half dozen honorable mentions are then chosen for each of three categories, which are Hors d'oeuvres, Soups and Stews, and Main Dishes. Anyone, including professional chefs, can enter. Interestingly, relatively few entrants have ties to the restaurant business. The grand prize winner receives a $1,000 cash prize. Lesser cash prizes are awarded to first, second, and third place winners in each category.

Here are this year's winners. You can see what all of them look like by going here.

Hors d'oeuvres:
First Place and Grand Prize Winner: Frico Oyster Cups as pictured and described above.
Second Place: Stuffed Buffalo Smokehouse Oysters: Robert Johnson, Piney Point, RI.
Third Place: Smoked Oysters with Basil-Caper Butter: Marty Hyson, Millersville, MD.

Soups and Stews:
First Place: Smoked Tomato, Corn, and Oyster Stew: Brian Boston, Sparks, MD
Second Place: Treasured Oyster Bisque: Gary Stefan, Tempe, AZ.
Third Place: Oyster and Cauliflower Soup: Robert Vining: Metairie, LA.

Main Dishes:
First Place: Southwest Oyster Quesadillas: Elizabeth Bennett: Mill Creek, WA.
Second place: Oysters 'n Cannellini Beans with Polenta Rounds: Alex DeSantis, Bethlehem, PA.
Third Place: Oysters and Summer Squash over Hominy Cakes: Doug Pope, Delta, PA.

The National Oyster Cook-off Committee holds the rights to these recipe. However, each year a cookbook is printed. You can purchase this year's cookbook by sending a check for $6.00 to The National Oyster Cook-Off Contest, C/O St. Mary's County DECD, Cookbook, P.O. Box 653, Leonardtown, MD 20650