Dungeness Crab, Maryland Blue Crab and Alaskan King Crab -- they all were there at San Francisco's Pier 39 for the Fifth Annual Crab Cooking Olympics in more than a hundred dishes from professional chefs. They came from North and South, East and West Coasts as well as inland -- from all over North America.
Top honors for the best in crab cooking went to Vancouver's Andreas Kern of the Westin Bayshore Inn for his table of five dishes starring fresh crabmeat in each one.
The five different categories were: Crab Soup, Crab Nouvelle Cuisine, Deviled Crab, Crab Salad, and Chef's Choice. Thirty professional chefs from across the country and Canada competed.
There were crab dishes, hot and cold -- plain and some very fancy -- many combined with fruits and herbs, others garnished with sauces, and some pristine served cold on lettuce leaves and other greens.
The various sauces for crab were flavored with tarragon, curry, and spinach; other dishes included combinations with baby corn, Chinese snow peas, avocado, and orange. There were crab cakes and crab cooked Chinese style, and a few so highly decorated it was difficult to tell what they were.
The chefs arrived toting ice-packed trunks of their favorite local crab -- along with special pans, cookware, and of course their special recipes.
A panel of judges headed by Chef Louis Szathmary used the point system set up by the National Culinary Institute for the international food olympics held in Germany.
Chef Kern received the highest honor, Maitre Chef de Cuisine, for scoring the highest number of points in three out of five categories. Awards were presented for first, second, and third place in each category, and additional trophies were given for outstanding presentation.
Another Vancouver chef, Ron Lammie of Umberto's restaurant, won first place in the Nouvelle Cuisine category and a first place Embarcadero Award for Culinary Excellence.
Harry Hoffstadt, American Federation of Chefs, Chicago, won first prize in the Deviled Crab category and Richard Slater, Marty's, Dallas, Texas, won first place in the Crab Salad category.
Some special trophies were awarded as follows.
California Trophy: Jim Freeland, Crab House Restaurant, North Bay Village, Fla.
Neptune Trophy: Alex Clavell, Clipper Cay, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Golden Gate Trophy: Cleatis Wilcox, Clea's Castle, Oak Park, Ill. Second prize: Michel Villon, The Crow's Nest, Anchorage, Ala.
Cable Car Trophy: Claus Iverson, Vannelli's Restaurant, San Francisco.
Joseph Alioto Trophy: Ron Lammie, Umberto's, Vancouver, British Columbia.
San Francisco Trophy: Mario Rotti, Princess Cruises, Los Angeles.
Yerba Buena Trophy: Edwin Pirolt, Hilton Hotel, San Francisco.
This recipe is one of five that won points for the top prize for Chef Andreas Kern. Crab Salad Amani 4 apples 8 ounces crabmeat 4 ounces alfalfa sprouts 1 ounce lemon juice 4 crab claws 4 sliced lemons 1 egg 6 ounces flour 1 cup milk Pinch salt Dressing: 2 ounces mayonnaise 4 ounces yogurt 2 ounces sour cream 4 ounces shredded apple 2 ounces chopped pimiento 1 ounce cream 2 ounces chilli sauce Touch of lemon Touch of Worcestershire Pinch salt, pepper, cayenne
Peel apples, cut off top, and remove core. With a melon baller, remove the rest of the center, leaving about 1/2 inch of bottom. Cut the apple pieces into little cubes and mix them with 1 ounce lemon juice, and the crabmeat.
Mix together egg, flour, milk, and salt. Dust apple with flour and turn apples in mixture. Deep fry golden brown and let cool.
Fill apple with alfalfa sprouts and crab salad. Garnish with lemon slice and 1 crab claw.
Mix all dressing ingredients together and serve alongside salad.
First Place in the Chef's Choice Category was won by by Chef John W. Kaufman, director of food service, Washington National Insurance Company, Morton Grove, Ill. He also won first place in the Crab Soup category.
Here is the recipe that won first place for Harry Hoffstadt in the Deviled Crab category. Seafarers Dungeness Crabmeat au Gratin 12 ounces Dungeness crabmeat 2 lemons 1/2 cup tartar sauce 1 teaspoon chopped parsley 1/2 cup mayonnaise Salt and white pepper to taste 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 brown 'n serve rolls 1/4 cup melted salted butter 8 thin slices of green pepper 8 thin slices of tomato 8 cherry tomatoes 4 slices Muenster cheese 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon paprika 1/2 bunch parsley
Boil crabmeat, remove from shell, let cool, and then flake.
Put in bowl, squeeze in 1/2 lemon, and add tartar sauce, 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, mayonnaise, and remaining seasonings.
Brush pan and rolls with some of the melted butter, bake until 3/4 done. Cut roll in half and place crabmeat mixture on rolls.
Top each with 2 slices of green pepper, 2 cherry tomatoes, and a slice of Muenster cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining butter. Bake in warm oven until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with paprika.
Place on plates, garnish with lemon wedges and parsley. Serves 4.