By Amanda Schallert | NJ.com
Fifteen vendors turned pounds of crab and lobster into cakes, rolls and martinis this weekend at the ninth-annual Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off at Monmouth Park.
Bahrs Landing won the judges’ choice award for “Best Crab Cake,” and The Boondocks, new to the event this year, won the “Best of the Rest” honor for its cold lobster roll.
The judges also gave the “Most Badass” title to Simply Southern, which has come to the event for eight years, for its fried catfish gumbo.
For the people’s choice awards, Ike’s Famous Crabcakes won for “Best Crab Cake” and Point Lobster won “Best of the Rest” for its lobster roll.
A higher than usual number of new vendors competed this year, with five new chefs adding their delicacies to the mix of festival staples.
Crowded inside an 18-foot food truck called Off the Hook, a team of cooks worked side-by-side to make hot and cold lobster rolls. They just started doing this in March, and they brought a new truck and lobster from Canada.
“Stainless steel,” said Chef Joe Carson, tapping the top of his vehicle. Carson, who owns Off the Hook, said he works as a business consultant during the week and this is his weekend project. He’s originally from Cape Cod and has a dream of eventually living a beach lifestyle.
Several vendors said they had expected a higher turnout based on previous years’ crowds. Event organizer Patti Baxter said she didn’t yet have the number of attendants this year, but the festival typically draws about 25,000 people to it.
For Shannon Sullivan attending the festival is a must. Though she had college classes Saturday, she came Sunday because she thinks this is what August is for. Her favorite dish at the festival was The Boondocks’ jumbo shrimp, but there was still more to try.