Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook Off

 Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook Off

            This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a guest judge at the Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook Off held at Monmouth Park, NJ. It was an opportunity not to be missed and one that will benefit you and me when scouring around attempting to find quality seafood. You would think living next to the ocean would help us Jerseyians find some decent deep-water delicacies, right? Eh, I’ve been let down in the past. But fret no more, the information below will enlighten and entice you, I promise!

                 Just to give you some background, our task, as judges, was to pick three winners- best crab cake, best of the rest, and best presentation.  Our judging team consisted of Deborah Smith, executive editor of jerbites.com, Tom Brennan, station manager of 90.5 The Night, Michele McBride, morning show host of 90.5 The Night, Peter Genovese of The Star-Ledger, and myself, A Hungry Teacher. The winners are revealed below as are my notes on the contenders. Enjoy!
Best Crab Cake:
Winner: Mud City Crab Cake Company, Forked River & Manahawkin
-                 Simple and impressively flavorful,  abundant lump crab meat dominated the cake, nice sear on edges, a no frills crab cake that leaves you wanting more
Mud City's Winning Crab Cake
Bahrs Landing, Highlands
-          Light and fresh, great flavors permeated through, admirable amount of lump crab meat, the presentation was absolutely beautiful, locally grown heirloom tomatoes and black bean and corn salsa adorned the plate, entire dish was enjoyable

Bahrs Landing
The American Hotel, Freehold
-                  Served as a sandwich, quite spicy, crab flavor somewhat hidden by all the spice, delicious slaw served with that added texture, buttered brioche bun also a pleaser 
The American Hotel
Ike’s Famous Crab Cakes II, Ocean City
-          Served as a sandwich- the Royale, flavor relied too heavily on sauces-creamy horseradish & sundried tomato, lack of lump crab meat, generously sized

Ike's Famous Crab Crabs II
Southern Smoke- Cajun & Caribbean BBQ, Wall
-          Too much seasoning and spice, heavy “southwestern” flair, arugula salad well-dressed on the side, smoked tomato jam was an interesting blend of marinara and BBQ sauce, the creamed cilantro cut the spice effect and improved the overall plate

Southern Smoke- Cajun & Caribbean BBQ
The Happy Clam, Highlands
-          Buttery yet dry consistency, remoulade sauce comprised of chipotle peppers, capers and spices was HOT
The Happy Clam

Best of the Rest:
Winner: Ike’s Famous Crab Cakes II: Cajun Grouper Royale Sandwich
-                    Wow, what a sandwich!, delicious tender pieces of fish, cooked with skill, a generous amount of fish for one sandwich, spicy and addicting

Ike's Famous Crab Cakes II, Royale Version on top, cross section of regular below
The American Hotel: Crab in a Bag
-          Filled with fresh corn and andouille sausage, worth the time and effort it takes to get to the meat, seasoned just the right amount

Crab in a Bag!
Bahrs Landing: Jersey Corn & Crab Chowder
-                      Sweet and creamy, very pleasing to the palate, nice blend of textures: lump crab, corn pieces, and a thick base, a scrumptious dish
Mud City Crab Cake Company: Muddy Fries
-                    Garlicy and greasy, very addicting yet hard to pin-point what is pulling you back for more, sauce would have been better to dip into rather than to shake off
Muddy Fries....
Southern Smoke- Cajun & Caribbean BBQ: Cajun Catfish/Tilapia Sandwich with coleslaw, house pickles and remoulade
-          Ratio of fish to other additions off, fish was tasty yet undermined by all else
Cajun Catfish/Tilapia Sandwich....
Carmine in the Kitchen/ The Fritter Fella, Toms River:  Key West Conch Fritters with Key lime mustard dipping sauce
-          Excellent batter and deep fry, undercooked through center, dense and heavy as a whole
I love the umbrella over these Fritters!
Clam Hut, Highlands: Drunken Clams
-          Smelled wonderful, clams were chewy and rubbery though, broth was made to dip but sadly bread provided was stale

Drunken Clams....
Best Presentation:

Winner: Bahrs Landing Crab Cake
    -          Picture says it all, definitely frame-able
Oh how pretty!

And the final thought of the day.................
A not-so-hungry anymore teacher who needs a napkin!!
(This photo courtesy of P. Genovese)


  1. Sounds like so much delicious fun!

  2. We were there the day before the contest and got to try the Mud City crabcake (the one with avocado and bacon). It was great and I'm happy that they won. Seems like you had a great time judging!

  3. Michelle,
    Judging was great! My husband also had the bacon and avocado crab cake sandwich at the festival, he really liked it too:)