Monday, October 17, 2011

Big News From the 2011 National Oyster Cook-off

It was totally unexpected and has never happened during the 32 years of the Lexington Park Rotary Club's and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Seafood Marketing Program's National Oyster Cook-off near Leonardtown, Maryland every third weekend of October at the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival. At this year's 2011 event on October 15, 2010, a single contestant, namely Loic Jaffres , a local, won every award available for him to take. Those awards were as follows:

  • Best in the Hors d'oeuvres category

  • Best Presentation

  • People's Choice for best overall dish

  • Grand Prize for best dish our of all three categories.

Spinach Wrapped Oysters Casino, as entered in the Hors d'oeuvres Category and pictured above were what did it. According to the recipe printed in the 32nd Annual National Oyster Cook-off cookbook, one might have expected a more traditional "casino" style presentation served atop an oyster shell. Serving them this way, however, could render a bit ponderous the tastings offered each year to dozens of spectators. Therefore, both spectators and judges, the latter holed up in a different building, received their Spinach Wrapped Oysters Casino in clear plastic cups as shown in our title picture. Just as well, better perhaps for Loic Jaffrey. Who's to say whether the French born Chef Jaffres, of Cafe des Artistes in Leonardtown, would otherwise have clinched "Best Presentation?" Interestingly, I didn't overhear the judges consider the discrepancy. Surely such an oversight did not relate to bias favoring local contestants. The judges, though provided with recipes, had no information regarding who the contestants were or where they were from. In any event, Chef Jaffrey's oyster dish pleased my palate enough that I ultimately intend to prepare it at home. Sometime thereafter, you can expect a close-up photograph accompanied by exclusive coverage here at Unique Culinary Adventures.

Hors d'oeuvres were but one of the three categories. Long before the cook-off, a different team of judges had selected the top three recipes plus numerous runner-ups from each category to be published in the 32nd Annual National Oyster Festival Cookbook. As it's been each year, this book is released at the Festival. The winner from each of the three categories is determined after the creators of the top three entries from each of the three categories prepare their treats live before a packed house at the Fairgrounds. Here are the entries that won second and third place from the Hors d'oeuvres category along with the top three from the Soups and Stews category and the Main Dishes category:


SECOND PLACE: Stuffed Oyster Stickers

by Mark Strejk of Milwaukie, Oregon


Oyster Puffs

by Thomas Faglon of Somerset, New Jersey



Marjoram Oyster and Baby Bella Soup

by Judy Armstrong of Prairieville, Louisiana


Baltimore Oyster Chowder

by Ron Borowy of Arnold , Maryland


Oyster Artichoke Bisque

by Rebecca S. Blake of Waldorf, Maryland



Oyster Pot Pie with Bacon Crust

by Amy Angelo of Pennsville, New Jersey


Oyster and Black Bean Quesadillas with Cilantro Cream

by Ronna Farley of Rockville, Maryland


Creamed Maryland Oysters in Pastry Shells

by Jack Campbell of Clacamas, Oregon



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