Leonardtown Chef Wins National Oyster Cook-Off Grand Slam

LEONARDTOWN, Md.—Loic Jaffres, chef and owner of Café des Artistes in Leonardtown, won a sweep in the National Oyster Cook-Off held in Leonardtown, open to both home cooks and professional chefs. Jaffres’ dish took first place in the hors d’oeuvres division and then won the people’s choice, best presentation and overall grand prize awards. This is the first time a contestant was honored with all three awards.

“I started to create this dish the day after last year’s competition and perfected it throughout the year,” said Jaffres.

Jaffres’ Spinach Wrapped Oysters Casino earned him $1,300, three engraved silver trays, and the honor of the national title. He presented his creation in individual cups inside a treasure chest made of sugar surrounded by oyster shells.

Jaffres has competed in the National Oyster Cook-off since 2008 and until now has not reached his ultimate goal of the grand prize.

In the Soups & Stews category, Judy Armstrong of Prairieville, La. took first place for her Marjoram Oyster and Baby Bella Soup. This creamy soup blended flavors from marjoram, mushrooms, leeks and Camembert.

Amy Angelo from Pennsville, N.J. won the main dish category with her Oyster Pot Pie and Bacon Crust, a comfort dish she made with oysters and vegetables in a creamy sauce and pie crust embedded with bacon pieces.

The 32nd Annual National Oyster Cook-Off was held in conjunction with the St. Mary’s Oyster Festival in Leonardtown. The festival is attended by over 15,000 people from across the United States. The Rotary Club of Lexington Park runs the festival and the proceeds go to local charities, educational scholarships, assistance grants, and Rotary International projects. It is home to the National Oyster Shucking contest.

The National Oyster Cook-Off was sponsored by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Seafood Marketing Program, the Rotary Club of Lexington Park and the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development. A cookbook containing 32 award winning recipes is available by sending a check for $8 to National Oyster Cook-Off, P.O. Box 653, D.E.C.D., Leonardtown, MD 20650.

Spinach Wrapped Oysters Casino
Recipe by Chef Loic Jaffres
Leonardtown, Md.


1 pound & 1 tablespoon butter (room temp)

2 shallots (finely chopped)

1 red & 1 green pepper (diced very fine)

1 cup dry white wine

2 cloves garlic (chopped)

2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)

1 pint of Maryland Oysters (drained)

12 large spinach leaves (washed)

6 slices bacon (julienned)

salt & pepper

Preparation Instructions:

Prepare Casino Butter: Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in medium sauté pan, add shallots & peppers; sauté until shallots are translucent. Add white wine & simmer until wine is almost gone (dry). Add garlic and chopped parsley – set aside to cool. When cool, mix with 1 pound softened butter, adding salt & pepper to taste.

Blanch spinach leaves quickly in hot salted water. Lay flat and top each with one oyster. Roll (& fold) as necessary. Place oyster back in shell & top with the casino butter. Preheat Broiler to 350 degrees. Place rock salt on a sheet or baking pan about ¼” thick. Secure oysters on top of salt base. Place under broiler for 7-8 minutes or until butter is bubbly. While the oysters are cooking, sauté the julienned strips of bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels. When the oysters are done, top with the bacon strips and serve.

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