Brian LancioneAngel’s Food Market employees, including (left to right) manager Kim Ward, her daughters Jeffie Bowen and Jami Knoedler, and her niece Amanda Sewell, took home first place for their Maryland crab soup.
Brian LancioneBella Napoli owner Pasquale Carannante took home the first place prize for his simple cream of crab soup.
Brian LancioneFounder’s Tavern & Grille owners Steve and Janet Sumner took home the People’s Choice prize for their Maryland crab soup.
Brian LancioneDeep Creek Restaurant served up crab soup.
Eighth Annual Crab Soup Cook-Off Benefits The Community
On the sunny Sunday afternoon of April 2, the Lake Shore-Severna Park Rotary held its eighth annual Crab Soup Cook-Off on the shores of Kurtz’s Beach in Pasadena.
The tradition began in 2009 after a rotary member had gone to the Annapolis Seafood Festival and seen people competing for various soups. Inspired by the idea, he suggested the rotary host a crab soup competition in the springtime.
For 2017, eight restaurants participated, including Angel’s Food Market, Bella Napoli, Deep Creek Restaurant (Arnold), Founders Tavern & Grille, Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant, the Green Turtle, Mutiny Pirate Bar & Island Grille (Glen Burnie) and Rams Head Dockside (Glen Burnie).
“We sold more tickets than we ever have in advance of the event,” said Lake Shore-Severna Park Rotary’s program chair, John Clark. “We walked into the event on Sunday having already raised what we were projecting to get.”
In total, the event sold 350 tickets and raised $7,758, nearly $2,000 more than the rotary had expected. The bulk of the funds raised will go toward scholarships for graduating seniors at Pasadena and Severna Park high schools.
The three judges for the competition were Lenore Martin from Northeast High School, Jerry Nicklow from the Pasadena Business Association and Emil Debsia from 2 Bold Chefs and a Truck.
Bella Napoli won for cream of crab, Angel’s won for Maryland crab, and Founder’s Tavern & Grille won People’s Choice for its Maryland crab soup.
“It was really hard to pick who I liked best for cream of crab,” Clark said. “They were all very tasty and different.”
“We Call It Tom’s Famous Crab Soup”
Angel’s Food Market
Kim Ward and her daughter, Jami Knoedler of Angel’s Food Market, made a Maryland crab soup that is famous at the Pasadena store. It has been made one to two times daily for the past 25 years at Angel’s Food Market by the 85-year-old store owner, Tom Clocker.
“If we’re out of it, we hear about it … we call it Tom’s famous crab soup,” Clocker said.
Tom’s famous crab soup recipe originally came from a woman named Della and consists of chopped vegetables, five seasonings and crab meat. It is cooked for two hours.
When Ward asked Clocker whether he had heard about the results for the Crab Soup Cook-Off, he initially had very little reaction. But when Ward told him she used his recipe, his face lit up and she saw a tear in his eye.
“I wanted to make it about Mr. Tom. Unfortunately he couldn’t be there because [his wife] Ms. Joyce Clocker has been very sick,” Ward said. “Mr. Tom is like our inspiration around here … if he’s picking on you, he likes you. If he doesn’t say anything to you, that’s when you worry. But he’s got a heart of gold.”
“Together We Perfected It”
Bella Napoli Italian Restaurant
Pasquale Carannante of Bella Napoli, who has participated in the cook-off since the inaugural year, used a recipe created by Bella Napoli’s world-renowned original chef, Joe Mazzeo, who has since passed away.
“He brought us this recipe that was good, but together we perfected it and created what we have at the restaurant,” Carannante said.
Carannante believes many people overcompensate in their soups. “They have a lot of flour to thicken it up or … they put too much sherry in it, too much Old Bay … instead of letting the original quality ingredients take over, which is heavy cream and crab meat,” Carannante said. “I could probably guarantee I have one of the most simple recipes in the competition.”
Carannante enjoys the camaraderie of the event and the opportunity to get to know other chefs, as well as the way it supports the community. While at the event, Carannante and Founder’s Tavern & Grille owner Steve Sumner combined Carannante’s cream of crab and Sumner’s Maryland crab soup to create a half and half soup. “It was just dynamite,” Sumner said.
“We Sell Gallons And Gallons”
Founders Tavern & Grille
Sumner has been involved in the competition for a few years. He used a traditional Maryland crab soup recipe that is a popular menu item at his restaurant. He believes the traditional, recognizable nature of the soup and the freshness with which it is made sets his soup apart. “It is made daily [at the restaurant] all from scratch … we sell gallons and gallons,” Sumer said.
In addition to supporting a good cause, the Crab Soup Cook-Off gives restaurant owners a unique opportunity to connect with other area restaurateurs.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s good friendly competition,” Sumner said. “It’s not something we get to do a lot as restaurant owners.”