Cook-Off Winners

Oyster Recipes

2020 Cookbook

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The Grand Champion of our 2024 US National Oyster Cook-Off automatically qualifies for the 2023 World Food Championships, the ultimate Food Sport event in the world. Over 1,500 chefs, home cooks, and pro teams will vie for prizes in one of nine categories.  Rona Farley (above), our 2022 Champion, is eligible to compete in the Seafood Category in the 2023 competition. The U.S. National Oyster Cook-Off underwrites its champions to attend.

Cook Off Chefs

Thank you all for your great recipes!

This year’s Cookoff will feature nine contestants, each selected in a blind evaluation of their recipes.  Recipes from all over the nation were submitted for hors d’oeuvres, Soups and Stews, and Main Dishes, all featuring Oysters. The three contestant chefs in each category will cook their dishes, and they will then be submitted to the judges for a blind tasting.   The winner of each category will be announced on Saturday Afternoon, along with the Grand Prize and People’s Choice.   Samples will be distributed to the audience while judging commences.   Our finalist chefs hail from not only Maryland and Virginia but also California, Oregon, and New Jersey, reflecting the National Oyster Cookoff.   They will prepare their specialties, such dishes as Oyster Pan Roast with Harissa and Spicy Pita Chips, Fennel and Orange Oysters Baked in Parchment, and Thai Red Curry with Crispy Oysters.

The finalists cook their fresh oyster specialty dishes against a time limit for a panel of three expert judges.  

The fresh oyster cooking categories include:

  • Hors d’oeuvres, 
  • Soups and Stews, and 
  • Main Dishes

Finalists for the 2023 contest have been notified.   If you were unsuccessful this year, we hope to hear from you for next year’s Cook-off during our 53rd Oyster Festival!! 




Gwyn Novak

John ShieldsChef John Shields

Sandra MartinSandra Martin

Back for her second year as a  National Oyster Cook-Off judge, Gwyn Novak is the chef and founder of No Thyme to Cook, Southern Maryland’s premier cooking studio teaching students of all ages the love of food. Gwyn’s emphasis is on using locally sourced ingredients to create delicious yet simple dishes. A graduate of the Baltimore International Culinary College and a member of the International Association of Cooking Professionals, Gwyn has been cooking and writing about food for more than 25 years.









Chef, author and television personality John Shields is the owner of the celebrated Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. John is often called “The Culinary Ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay,” and he has written three popular cookbooks on the cuisine of the region. The 25th Anniversary Edition of Chesapeake Bay Cooking will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2015.

John is currently working on The New Chesapeake Kitchen, which will be a call to embrace new growing, producing, eating, and cooking practices that are “Healthy for Bay and Body.” The New Chesapeake Kitchen is slated for publication by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2016.

During his appearances and in his writings, John expresses his passionate convictions about healthy eating and the importance of supporting the growers, producers, and food artisans of one’s region. He has spoken before the American Diabetes Association on the importance of promoting a healthier diet to combat what has become a national epidemic. In 2010 he worked with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center For A Livable Future and appeared in the film “BFED – The Baltimore Food Ecology Documentary.” Partnering with Johns Hopkins University, he launched an annual five-part kitchen garden series at Hopkins’ Evergreen Museum and Library.  The series includes hands-on gardening workshops in the extensive kitchen garden Gertrude’s staff has created on the grounds at Evergreen, with harvesting and cooking demonstrations presented by John.

Every spring and fall, John goes to local elementary schools volunteering as a guest chef for the American Institute of Wine and Food’s innovative “Days of Taste” program. During the Days of Taste, inner-city students are led to explore the different flavors of healthy food and shown how to prepare a fresh salad from local ingredients. In 2011 he narrated a video promoting Days of Taste for the AIWF:

John blogs at:

Gertrude’s website is:

On Facebook at:

 Though born in the center of the country, St. Louis, Missouri, Sandra Olivetti Martin grew up eating native Chesapeake Bay oysters. They were a staple on the menu of her family restaurant, as they had been throughout the Midwest during the heyday harvests of the early 20th century, arriving by refrigerated freight train.

Arriving on the Chesapeake’s western shore in 1985, my husband Bill Lambrecht and I thought we’d gone to heaven. As eaters, we have bought many a bushel from local oystermen, now aquacultured as well as wild-harvested. As a shucker, Bill has a nice collection of knives and now rarely needs to visit the emergency room.

As a cook, he excels at steamed as well as on the half shell, and I have mastered the traditional recipes, drawing from a collection of oyster cookbooks. The National Oyster Cook-Off, at which I’ve been a judge for over 10 years, has exposed me to quite an expanse of oyster culinary imagination.

As a journalist and editor, I’ve written and assigned dozens of stories about oysters, oyster ecology, oyster recovery, oyster culture, and oyster cuisine. My first, for the Washington Post, drew so many well-read oyster eaters to the Deale Volunteer Fire Department Oyster Roast that fire marshals barred the door.

My 23-year-old family-owned newspaper, Bay Weekly — distributing 20,000 papers weekly throughout the Annapolis capital region — nowadays runs stories that offer hope for some recovery of Crassostrea Virginica.