|My judge's ballot and one of the crab soup entries I tasted|
Back in the spring, I was asked to serve this month as one of the judges for the 22nd-Annual Maryland Crab Soup Cook-off--a feature of the Maryland Seafood Festival. Last year, I stood in line for over an hour with hundreds of other people who had purchased a ticket to sample nearly two-dozen crab soups prepared by local chefs and caterers. So when I was asked by Christina of Capital Gazette newspapers to be a judge, I quickly said yes. Truth be told, I would have worked a road crew to have the chance to sample a bunch of Maryland-style vegetable crab soups.
|Another outstanding soup from the Crab Soup Cookoff|
My experience started with complimentary tickets to the 46th-Annual Maryland Seafood Festival and to the Crab Soup Cook-off, both held last weekend, for myself, for my husband and son, and for my next-door neighbor and her friend. Christina also provided a parking pass for the car windshield to facilitate parking nearest the Crab Soup Cook-off tent (thanks again Christina). My family, friends, and I and milled around and staked out the entertainment and festival shopping areas before the Crab Soup Cook-off began. This was the beginning of one of my favorite days of 2013.
|This entry was generously stocked with crab|
|All entries were numbered rather than identified by name.|
My fellow vegetable crab soup judge was Ray Tompkins, Chef and General Manager at the Big Fish Grille in Crofton, Maryland (they have the best, most tender fried oysters). I was proud that two of my favorites in the vegetable crab soup category were the same as his since Ray is a professional chef. Judges in the Alternative Crab Soup category were Boris Savitiskiy of Nom Nom Borris, Diana Love of the blog Foraging for Flavor and of Gazette Communications. Both became fast friends. TV cooks The Feasty Boys, Jim Stump and Jon Mayer, judged the cream-of-crab soup category. The lovely Elisa M. of Yelp Baltimore was the emcee. We talked ingredients and flavors as we tasted the soups and snapped photos with our cell phones. It was the kind of kinship that one can only feel with fellow foodies and food bloggers.
|Chefs from the Riderwood Retirement Community happily accepted three awards.|
My favorite moments during the event were watching the jubilant reactions of the crowd and chefs as the winners were announced. Chefs from the Riderwood retirement community (I am SO living there when I retire), cheered boisterously as "Riderwood" was called as the first-place winner in the People's Choice Vegetable Crab Soup Category and in the second-place winner in the People's Choice Cream of Crab Category. Riderwood also claimed a second-place plaque in the Judge's Choice Vegetable Crab Soup Category.
|Riderwood Chefs' first-place win & crowd favorite for vegetable-crab soup.|
|Chef Chris Clime of Passion Fish sweeps the Alternative Crab Soup category.|
|Cream-of-Crab-Soup Category Winners Megan and Charles McKnew|
For a full list of the crab soup winners, click here. For the recipe for Riderwood's vegetable-based Maryland Crab Soup, which was served to President Obama, click here. Check out the Crab Soup Cook-off Board on Pinterest, which has dozens of crab soup pins. Do you enjoy crab soup? Which restaurant in your area serves the best crab soup?
|A few of the hundreds who tasted and voted in the People's Choice Category|
|It was a beautiful day for a crab soup tasting.|