Cherry Barranco, of Milton, won the coveted title, "Delaware's Best Crab Cakes" in 1997

Straws Kitchen



Three judges ate their way through eight delectable crab cake recipes to determine the winner of the Coast Day Crab Cake Cookoff, an annual event at the College of Marine Studies and Sea Grant Program open house.

Coast Day, held Oct. 5, attracted more than 10,000 visitors to the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes to learn about Delaware's coastal resources and the University's marine research projects.

The cookoff for the title "Delaware's Best Crab Cakes" attracted a large crowd. An outdoor tent was transformed into a competition kitchen by yards of extension cord and numerous electrical appliances, including toaster ovens, electric fry pans, hot plates and even a food processor and hand mixer.

Cherry Barranco, of Milton, won the coveted title, "Delaware's Best Crab Cakes," and a prize of $150 for her recipe "Dad's Crab Cakes." Char Ann Smith of Bishopville, Md., took second place and was awarded $100 for her "Best Backfin Crab Cakes." Third place and $75 went to Shirley Yost of Lewes for "Shirley's Crab Cakes."

The crowd, three and four people deep around each cook's work area, eagerly waited for a taste of crab cake. Other than the two pounds of lump crab meat supplied by the college, the contestants were responsible for all ingredients, and many brought their own cooking appliances. The contestants, which included home cooks as well as professional chefs, may have been a little nervous cooking in public, but they still took time while preparing their recipes to talk to the crowd about their personal crab cake tips and techniques.

The recipes were as varied as the contestants. Some contained traditional fillers such as saltines and white bread, while others used such innovative ingredients as peach preserves and seafood mousse. But taste proved to be the overriding factor in choosing the first-place winner. Judges for the contest were Ron Cole, hotel, restaurant and institutional management; Lisa Scolaro, chef and general manager of the Mirage Restaurant in Newark; and Denise Hawkins Coursey, author of Frommer's Maryland-Delaware Travel Guide, Third Edition. In addition to taste, they evaluated the crab cakes for originality, composition and texture.

"I was looking for the true flavor of the crab to come through," said Scolaro. "The winning recipe had a little extra zing."

The recipe for "Dad's Crab Cakes" was handed down by the late Harry Holloway to his daughters, who would watch him prepare the dish from memory in their home kitchen.

"My sister encouraged me to enter the contest," said Barranco, a fifth-grade teacher at Milton Middle School. "She said she always liked mine more than hers. We always watch Dad make the recipe. But the recipe had never been written down until this cookoff." Cherry


★★★★★ 2 votes



  • 2 lb
    crab meat
  • 2
  • 1 tsp
    lemon juice
  • 1/2 c
  • 1/3 c
  • 1 small
    onion, finely chopped
  • 1
    green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 c
    crushed saltine crackers
  • 1 tsp
  • 2 tsp
    worchestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp
    old bay seasoning
  • 1 oz
  • ·
    dash of garlic powder

How to Make Cherry Barranco, of Milton, won the coveted title, "Delaware's Best Crab Cakes" in 1997


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.
    Form into crab cakes and refrigerate to form all ingredients.
    Broil in oven or fry in olive oil until golden brown.
    Serve with fresh salsa or favorite condiments.
  2. Dad's Crab Cakes Cherry Barranco, of Milton
    (Teacher wins the title "Delaware's Best Crab Cakes" in the '97 Crab Cake Cookoff with family recipe)
    Oct. 23, 1997

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About Cherry Barranco, of Milton, won the coveted title, "Delaware's Best Crab Cakes" in 1997

Course/Dish: Other Appetizers

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