Celebrating culinary creativity, crab cakes and eclectic communities
As summer passes in the rearview mirror tourists and Marylanders alike turn to new seasonal activities like traveling to that corn maze everyone is posting about on social media as well as the perennial favorite: leaf-peeping.
This year, you may just want to add a few new stops on your fall itinerary – that is if you love Maryland’s iconic crab cake. In commemoration of National Seafood Month in October, a regional market leader in the procurement and distribution of seafood,J.J. McDonnell & Co. Inc., of Elkridge, MD, designed a crab cake contest with a new twist.
Instead of hosting a contest in one location with select judges deciding whose recipe gets the ultimate nod for top accolades, George McManus III, owner of J.J. McDonnell, is literally putting the voting in the hands of restaurant patrons courtesy of an exclusive mobile phone app. The month long event, called the J.J. McDonnell Seafood Crawl, launches October 1 and concludes October 30.
But the unique spin does not stop there. The Baltimore native wanted to give back to the communities that his business serves while also helping to cultivate the next generation of chefs and culinary workers. “As someone who was born and raised in Maryland I know that each community has its unique history and character. My goal for this Crawl is not only to showcase the talent of our local chefs, but also to draw people together to explore, discover and patronize businesses and enjoy the things that make communities unique. In this case, good seafood and one another,” says McManus.
A portion of the proceeds from the Crawl supports two Baltimore non-profits, Paul’s Place and the Franciscan Center. “Each of these local organizations work tirelessly not only to address issues like personal responsibility, but also to provide culinary training programs to offer real-world employment skills in the hospitality industry,” McManus adds. The Crawl is made possible through the generosity of its corporate sponsors. At the time of this release, sponsors include: Visit Howard County, Restaurant Reputations, Chesapeake Home Health Care Incorporated, Arista Industries, AssuredPartners, PNC Private Bank, Safe Harbor Seafood, Pontchartrain Blue Crab, Inc., J.M. Clayton Company, Maryland’s Best Seafood – Maryland Department of Agriculture, McCormick & Company, SECU, MDP Restaurant Program, Atlantic Aqua Farms, Seatrade International, Tosca, Sea Fresh USA Inc., Kinsley Properties, Ducktrap River of Maine, “They SEE” Automation Digital and Packaging, M&T Bank, Maury Donnelly & Parr, Inc., MSLT Seafood LLC dba Lobster Trap Co., Sealed Air Corporation, Tasty Seafood Company, Superfish USA, Inc., and Minuteman Press – Annapolis.
How the Crawl works
To participate in voting and ultimately the crowning of the champ of crab cakes, patrons purchase a ticket for $50 by visiting jjseafoodCrawl.com. Tickets entitle participants to take a month long tour to each of the nearly 30 participating restaurants. Participants can visit all or as many restaurants as they choose.
Each restaurant provides a free sample of their twist on the iconic crab cake. Using the Let’s Rallie mobile phone app, Crawl participants will evaluate each crab cake recipe on taste, appearance and creativity and record their votes as they travel from restaurant to restaurant starting October 1. The Crawl features a Cajun Crab Cake paired with a flavorful fruit salsa from Lib’s Grill of Bel Air to Daniels Seafood Club from Daniels Restaurant & Open Air Bar in Elkridge to the “Da Crab Crawler” at The Crazy Crab Bag in Baltimore and everything in between.
Nearly 30 participating restaurants
At press time, the 27 participating restaurants include: Anne Arundel County – McGarvey’s Saloon & Oyster Bar and Two Rivers Steak and Fish House; Baltimore County – Atlantic Food & Spirits, Nick’s Grandstand Grille & Crabhouse, The Manor Tavern, The Crazy Crab Bag, The Local Oyster Locus Point, and The Soul & Krab House; Baltimore City – BLK Swan,Bistro 300, Guilford Hall Brewery,Magdalena – The Ivy Hotel,The Food Market Hampden,True Chesapeake Oyster Co., andThe Empanada Lady; Frederick County – Mount Airy Inn andTwin Arch Tavern; Harford County – Fallston Barrel House andLib’s Grill Bel Air; Howard County – Daniels Restaurant & Open Air Bar, The Food Market Columbia, The Collective Offshore, LĀK restaurant Columbia; Montgomery County – All Set Restaurant & Bar and The Grilled Oyster Co.; Prince George’s County – Crab Boss; and District of Columbia – Kirwan’s on the Wharf.
For more information on the J.J. McDonnell Seafood Crawl, visit jjseafoodCrawl.com and connect on Instagram and Facebook. Founded in 1945, J.J. McDonnell is a market leader as a seafood supplier and distributor throughout Maryland, Washington D.C, and Northern Virginia region, with recent expansion into North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Over the past 78 years J.J. McDonnell built its business by focusing on its customer’s needs and a commitment to sustainability of the industry as a whole.