Leonardtown chef sweeps National Oyster Cook-Off

St. Mary's CountyOyster Festival

A Southern Maryland chef swept the National Oyster Cook-Off on Saturday at the St. Mary's County Fairgrounds, a festival organizer said.

Chef Loic Francois Jaffres, who owns and operates Café des Artistes in Leonardtown, took the contest's three top prizes with his white wine-sautéed appetizer, oysters casino wrapped in spinach. Jaffres' oysters were poached in seafood stock, dusted with panko breadcrumbs and served in shot glasses.

There were contestants from more than 10 states.

"I'm overwhelmed," Jaffres said Saturday evening by phone. He said he spent five months perfecting the recipe, which took the Grand Prize, the People's Choice Award and the Best Presentation title in addition to being named best hors d'oeuvre. "I'm going to have to start serving it at the restaurant."

The cook-off is part of the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival, which continues Sunday with the men's and women's final rounds of the National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest. The overall shucking championship is scheduled for 5 p.m.

The fairgrounds are about 2 hours south of Baltimore, in Leonardtown.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

twitter.com/stevekilar

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