The U.S. Oyster Cook-off 2017 Grand Prize winner qualifies to compete as a contender in the World Food Championships

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 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 contest have been notified.   If you were unsuccessful this year, we hope to hear from you for next year’s cook off during our 52st Oyster Festival!! 


10:00 – 11:00 Hors d’oeuvres preparation

11:15 – 12:15 Soups and Stews preparation

12:30 – 1:30 Main Dishes preparation

11 AM – 2 PM   Judging – In the Auditorium 

2 PM – Awards Ceremony on the Shucking Stand


Gwyn Novak


Rob Kasper


Sandra Martin

New to the National Oyster Cook-Off judge’s panel in 2017, 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.









Rob Kasper is a Baltimore writer.  For over three decades he  was a reporter, columnist and editorial writer for The Baltimore Sun , often writing about the area’s food and drink.  In the fall of 2011 he left the newspaper to write “Baltimore Beer: A Satisfying History of Charm City Brewing.” The book, published by History Press in Charleston, South Carolina, is now in its fourth printing. In 2014 he wrote “Baltimore Baseball & Barbecue with Boog Powell, Stories from the Orioles’ Smokey Slugger.”

He has won numerous writing awards.

The Association of Food Journalists cited his 2008 food columns as among the best in American and Canadian newspapers. This marked the fifth time in two decades that his writing has been so honored by the association. He has also won two National Headliner Awards. His interest in local history and Baltimore brewers led him in 2009 to become a founding member of Baltimore Beer Week, a not- for -profit organization that celebrates the area’s brewing culture.



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, 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 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 bared 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.