5th Annual Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off at Monmouth Park

Local Restaurants Vie for Top Honors at 5th Annual Food Fest in Oceanport this weekend.  The promise of show-stopping crab cakes from the Garden State’s finest restaurants and caterers will woo food lovers to Monmouth Park Racetrack on August 20th and 21st for the 5th Annual Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off. Patrons are advised to arrive hungry as the array of crab cakes, from gourmet to classic, moist and buttery to saucy and spiced, plus other seafood favorites and tempting sides may overwhelm the palate.

Some of New Jersey’s favorite eateries will compete for Best Crab Cake, Best of the Rest, People’s Choice and Best of The Breeze honors. Returning champs Bahr’s Landing of Highlands will defend its 2010 Best Crab Cake title and offer an array of seafood dishes. Two-time People’s Choice Best Crab Cake winner and 2009 Best of the Rest winner Mud City Crab Cake Company, Forked River, will be looking to secure wins across the board. Newcomers to the festival include Southern Smoke Cajun & Caribbean BBQ of Wall, Carmine in the Kitchen’s The Fritter Fella and Greenlight Foods.

Others intent on accumulating People’s Choice votes and impressing the judges are The Happy Clam of Highlands, The American Hotel of Freehold and Ike’s Famous Crab Cakes 2 of Ocean City. Visitors can cool off with Fresh Fruit Cup’s smoothies and fresh fruit, just-squeezed lemonade blended with real fruit from Lizzmonade, or Hawaiian-style shave ice from Kona Ice. Grab an ear of hot-off-the-grill Jersey fresh corn from A-maize-ing Roast. No need for vegetarians to stay away from the park: Island Noodles’ wok-fired soba noodles with 21 fresh seasonal vegetables will excite any palate.

During the week leading up to the festival, listeners to The Breeze FM 107.1 and 99.7 FM will have a chance to win some great Crab Cake Cook-Off prizes, including the opportunity to serve as a guest judge on Saturday, August 20th. The Breeze’s morning show team, Randy Davis and Erin Vogt, will be on site Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., sampling the crab cakes with the contest winner and awarding The Best of the Breeze to their favorite. For a chance to become the Breeze’s guest judge or win a prize pack of free tickets and festival food vouchers, visit www.breezeradio.com.

Seafood flavor, texture, and overall presentation will be assessed on Sunday by a panel of judges including Big Dog Pete Genovese of the Star-Ledger Munchmobile and others selected from the food, hospitality and media fields, including Deborah Smith from the popular blog Jersey Bites, Chef James Conroy of ChefJamesOnline.com, and 90.5 The NIGHT’s morning show host, Michele McBride. Everyone is invited to cast their votes for People’s Choice Awards throughout the weekend and enter to win great prizes.

The Crab Cake Cook-Off will feature an array of crafters, vendors and live music both days, with the Rock’N’Roll Chorus performing on Saturday and the Larry Stevens Band on Sunday. Bring the family on Sunday for Star-Ledger Family Fun Day, with attractions for children including clowns, face painters, live music, pony rides, and more.

Visitors will also have a chance to test drive a new Ford Focus and win great prizes at the Summer Fordcast tent. If you’re looking for a new cell phone or accessories make sure to visit the Verizon Wireless Store on Wheels for great deals available only at the festival. Visitors can learn more about The Manhattan Club and enter to win an overnight stay in one of the club’s spacious suites. Located at West 56th Street, this resort hotel offers easy access to all of New York City’s most popular attractions.

Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and Monmouth Park’s thoroughbred racing begins both Saturday and Sunday at 12:50 p.m. Festival hours are 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Grandstand admission, which includes admission to the festival area, is just $3. Children 12 and under are always free. Food prices vary.

Monmouth Park Racetrack is located at 175 Oceanport Avenue, Oceanport, NJ, off Exit 105 of the Garden State Parkway. New Jersey Transit’s North Jersey Coast Line Monmouth Park train stop is just steps away from the festival entrance. Visit www.monmouthpark.com or call 732-747-4449 for additional information.