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Let Them Eat (Crab) Cake

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Eight finalists will compete this month in the Crab Cake Cook-off at UD’s Coast Day. Photograph by Tom NutterJumbo lump or backfin? Breadcrumbs or no breadcrumbs? Broiled or fried? Few dishes inspire such vigorous debate in our region as the noble crab cake. It’s found nearly everywhere, but few chefs can agree on one method of preparation. If anyone can unlock the puzzle, it’s Doris Hicks, who has organized the Crab Cake Cook-off, part of the University of Delaware’s Coast Day, for its entire 21 years. When the latest contest gets under way this month (October 3 on the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes), eight finalists will once again vie for the title of Delaware’s top crab cake. Be they coconut-crusted, encased in panko or drizzled with rémoulade, these cakes come in all shapes and sizes, says Hicks, a seafood technology specialist with UD’s Grant Marine Advisory Service. “The key is not to overcook it,” she says. “And if you’re doing something exotic, the flavors have to work.” —Matt Amis

Page 2: First Lunch Lady | Local chefs visit D.C. to help Michelle Obama’s campaign to battle childhood obesity.

 

Chef Paul O’Toole of Deerfield Golf & Tennis Club visited the White House last summer. Photograph by Carolyn DauphinFirst Lunch Lady

Local chefs visit D.C. to help Michelle Obama’s campaign to battle childhood obesity.

As chef Paul O’Toole stepped upon the famous White House South Lawn among the veritable army of chefs—500 strong, all decked in white chef’s jackets and hats—he took a moment to let it all sink in.

“The feeling was intoxicating once we got through the third gate,” he says. “It’s hard to describe, but you can feel the power when you’re on that lawn.”

O’Toole, executive chef at Deerfield Golf & Tennis Club in Newark, was among more than 500 chefs from around the country who represented the American Culinary Federation and its assistance to Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity.

At the June ceremony, Mrs. Obama lauded the chefs for their commitment to Chefs Move to Schools, a White House program that pairs chefs with local schools to help educate parents, teachers and kids about food and nutrition.

“We were basically a part of history,” O’Toole says. “It’s the first time ever that she’s invited chefs to the White House to help her get this program started.”

Joining O’Toole was David Leo Banks, the longtime chef of Harry’s Savoy Grill and Harry’s Seafood Grill in Wilmington. The chefs were chosen from 25,000 ACF members for their records of volunteerism and community service. O’Toole has been a part of an ACF effort to speak at schools about healthy food alternatives.

The First Lady’s message to O’Toole, Banks, and the rest of the do-gooding chefs: capitalize on the cult of celebrity that some chefs today receive.

“What a better opportunity than now, when chefs are like rock stars on TV?” O’Toole says. “Kudos to her for recognizing that.” —Matt Amis

Page 3: Something in Dot-Common | Well-k known foodies share their culinary expertise and insights through the blogosphere.

 

Something In Dot-Common

Well-known foodies share their culinary expertise and insights through the blogosphere.

Your chef might be sharp with EVOO, but how is he with a URL? A few pro foodies trade in the cutting board for keyboard in their spare time to author insightful blogs. Julie on Julia, anyone? Robert Lhulier, executive chef of Union City Grille, took to the ’net in 2009 to broadcast his thoughts on food and wine, as well as culture, music, trends and “whatever I felt like writing about. I just wanted an outlet for creativity and a chance to share my experiences and often-strong opinions.” Read on.

Andy Meddick, owner
Good For You Market, Lewes
goodforyoumarket.blogspot.com
Meddick, whose friendly marketplace offers naturally grown produce, including some of his own veggies, blogs poetically on all things food. In one post, he dedicates 1,000 words to oatmeal. “Oats are considered, ‘health food,’” he writes, “but don’t let that put you off! Oats are high in iron, thiamine, and soluble fiber and thought to reduce LDL—the ‘bad’ cholesterol.” But it’s not all musings on breakfast grains. Meddick blogs as he sharpens his skills in the kitchen, taking readers through his experiences making homemade gnocchi, shortcrust pasties and more.

 

Robert Lhulier, chef
Union City Grille, Wilmington
forkncork.blogspot.com
Want to know what really goes on behind the two-way doors to a restaurant’s kitchen? OK, so Lhulier’s Fork&Cork blog isn’t exposé journalism, but his well-wrought postings give valuable insight into restaurant happenings, the lives of chefs, cookbooks, ingredients, and a lot more. “Myth #4: All Chef’s Have Tempers…Mostly, true. But let’s clarify that. It’s how you handle that temper. I’ve always seen it as a maturity issue. A screaming, yelling chef who can’t control his temper has issues with control of his/her own.”

 

Ryan Michaels, head brewer
McKenzie Brew House, Glen Mills, Pa.
mckenziebrewhouse.com/FreshOnTap/featuredBeer.aspx
Michaels blogs about brewing, carboys and the simple joys of chilling on the deck and sipping a cold beer. He also provided quality coverage of McKenzie’s recent homebrew competition: “The competition was a Belgian themed event that saw brewers from as far away as Florida rack their carboys and rack their brains for 21 of the most inventive beers I’ve ever tried in one place. Ingredients included maple syrup, vanilla, hibiscus, blood oranges, figs, wild yeasts and lots of different sugars and spice.” —Matt Amis

 

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