Entries for the 15th Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-Off are due on Thursday, August 12, 2004. Eight finalists will be selected from these entries to compete for cash prizes ($150 for first place, $100 for second place, and $75 for third place) and recognition in the cook-off on Coast Day, Sunday, October 3, at the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
Coast Day is held every year on the first Sunday in October. Sponsored by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies, it is an annual educational festival and showcase for Delaware’s rich marine resources. The event typically attracts more than 10,000 visitors and has won state and national awards for its efforts to promote environmental education and stewardship.
The Crab Cake Cook-Off first became part of Coast Day in 1990. Since that time, over 200 recipes have been submitted by professional and amateur cooks from across the country. They have used all manner of names and ingredients in their quest to concoct the recipe that will win the coveted title of “Delaware’s Best Crab Cakes.”
Many of the contestants bring their friends and family along for support and decorate their tables with flowers or various seafood-related items. According to Doris Hicks, seafood technology specialist for the University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and organizer of the cook-off, this is just one example of how the festive atmosphere of the cook-off has increased over the years.
“The contest also has become very popular with the public,” Hicks adds. “The first few cook-offs were held indoors, but it was so popular that the room got really crowded. The cook-off is now held outside, so more people can see it.”
Last year, Cheryl A. Tilton, chef and owner of Gilligan’s Waterfront Restaurant & Bar in Lewes, Delaware, won first place with her “Gilligan’s Crab Cakes.” Tilton added ground mustard and Old Bay seasoning to enhance the flavor of her traditional-style crab cakes and then served them with a spicy salsa topping made from fresh corn, tomatoes, oranges, and a jalapeño pepper. This year, Tilton has been invited to be one of the judges at the competition.
In 1999, the 10-year anniversary of the Crab Cake Cook-Off prompted Hicks to collect all of the award-winning recipes, which were then published in a commemorative Coast Day Crab Cake Cookbook. The 50-page spiral-bound booklet costs $4.00. It is available from the Marine Public Education Office in Newark at (302) 831-8083 or the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service in Lewes at (302) 645-4346.
The crab cakes must be made from 100% blue-crab meat. Each finalist will receive two pounds of blue-crab meat to use the day of the competition. All other ingredients and cooking utensils are the contestants’ responsibility. Judging will be based on originality, predominance of crab meat, taste, and texture.
For a complete set of contest rules and an entry form, or for more information, contact the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at (302) 645-4346 or Rita Baty at email@example.com.
Coast Day 2003 Crab Cake Cook-Off Winning Recipe
FIRST PLACE — “GILLIGAN’S CRAB CAKES”
by Cheryl A. Tilton
Gilligan’s Waterfront Restaurant & Bar, Lewes, Delaware
2 pounds jumbo, lump crab meat
1 tablespoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
Japanese panko bread crumbs
Oil for frying
Corn and Tomato Salsa:
3 ears of fresh corn
6 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 small, red onion
3 tablespoons cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 small jalapeño pepper — diced
kosher salt and fresh, ground pepper to taste
To make crab cakes: Beat eggs, Old Bay seasoning, and mustard together in a large bowl. Slowly add mayonnaise, a little at a time. Continue to whip until a thick batter forms. Pour over the crab meat, and gently fold. Mixture will be loose. Chill for one hour. Form into cakes, and coat with panko bread crumbs. Deep fry until a light golden brown. Serve with corn and tomato salsa if desired.
To make corn and tomato salsa: Roast fresh corn over grill. Cool and remove kernels. Peel and dice oranges, tomatoes, and onion. Add to corn. Finely chop cilantro and jalapeño, and add to corn mixture. Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve with crab cakes.
2004 Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-Off Official Rules
1) One entry per person. Each recipe must be an original creation of the contestant.
2) Two pounds of jumbo lump blue-crab meat will be provided to each contestant by the cook-off sponsors. All other ingredients must be provided by the contestants.
3) All cooking appliances and utensils used in the cook-off must be provided by the contestants.
A 110-volt electricity source and back-up equipment will be available at the cook-off.
4) Judging will be based on taste, originality, balance of crab meat, and texture.
5) Eight finalists will be selected from all entries by a panel of seafood experts. These finalists will be eligible to compete at the final competition at Coast Day, Sunday, October 3, 2004, in Lewes, Delaware. If one or more finalists are unable to attend the finals, the cooks with the next highest scores will be invited to participate.
6) All recipes entered become the property of the University of Delaware Sea Grant College
Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies. Recipes may be duplicated for the Coast Day audience and used in Coast Day publicity.
7) The deadline for entries is Thursday, August 12, 2004.
8) Contestants must register for the cook-off via the official entry form or a photocopy, or include all the requested information on a separate piece of paper and mail to the address below. All finalists will receive confirmation of their entry, directions to the site, and additional instructions for the cook-off by mail.
Official entry forms can be found at 2004 Crab Cake Cook-Off Entry Form
Mail entry forms to:
Crab Cake Cook-Off
University of Delaware
Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service
700 Pilottown Road
Lewes, DE 19958–1298
Entry forms also can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.