The National Oyster Cook-off was held on October 19 in Leonardtown, Maryland. The annual event is held in conjunction with the St. Mary’s Oyster Festival and the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship. More than 15,000 visitors attended the two-day festival which featured rows of vendors offering oyster fare and oyster-themed items.
Fifty chefs from as far away as Oregon entered recipes for consideration in the contest, open to cooks of all skill levels. Of those, nine were selected to attend the St. Mary’s County Oyster Festival, where they competed before a panel of judges.
The judges picked one winner in each of the three categories - hors d’oeuvre, soup/stew and main dish - based on taste and creativity. Reynolds won the overall prize of $1,000, an engraved silver tray and the national title. The other category winners took home cash prizes, ranging from $150 to $300.
Debbie Reynolds of Waldorf took took first place in the main dish category and won the overall grand prize with her Oyster and Chipotle Grits recipe.
Marty Hyson of Millersville won the hors d’oeuvre honor with his Grilled Oyster Reggiano. Winning both soup/stew and People’s Choice was Robert Johnson of Bushwood with his Merchant Mariner Oyster Rockefeller Chowder. Ronna Farley of Rockville earned the Best Presentation Award with her Crispy Oyster and Red Pepper Salsa Bruschetta.
The Oyster Cook-off is sponsored by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Seafood Marketing Program, the Rotary Club of Lexington Park and the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development. Proceeds from the event go to local charities, educational scholarships, assistance grants, and Rotary International projects.
For more information on the National Oyster Cook-off, visit www.usoysterfest.com.
source: MD DNR