UPDATE – August 7, 2014: Oprah – along with her man Steadman – had a crab cake dinner in Baltimore on Wednesday evening Aug. 6th. Where – with all of the crab cake joints in B’more to pick from – did they eat???? Gee whiz! None other than at the Captain James!
A friend from Virginia amazed me by saying that she had driven up to the G&M restaurant in Linthicum to buy crab cakes there because she had heard that Oprah Winfrey was a big fan of the G&M crabcakes. This got me curious and I started hunting on the web (using both Google and Bing search engines!) looking for any reference that linking Oprah to the G&M. I found NOTHING! I next emailed the G&M itself asking for confirmation of whether Oprah bought crab cakes from them; they demurely responded that they preferred not to comment on celebrities who purchased their crab cakes.
Hmm… I was all the more curious now – Was there any published documentation linking Oprah to crab cakes from Maryland? Oh boy, I found references connecting Oprah with a love of crab cakes (just none though connecting Oprah to the G&M’s crab cakes!)
Apparently, there are a lot of Maryland crab cake providers who aren’t particularly shy about talking about Oprah’s fondness for their crab cakes or who Oprah has recognized on her TV show or in her “O” magazine. Here’s some of what the information that my research into the link between Oprah and Maryland crab cakes came up with!
In the February/2007 edition of “O” magazine, Oprah recommends buying crab cakes from a Maryland-based online vendor, Chesapeake Bay Crabcakes, as a “Father’s Day” gift for dad. With a name like “Chesapeake Bay Crabcakes”, you’d at least think that they came from Maryland, right? Ha! I made the mistake of ordering some crabcakes from these folks as a gift to my mom in Florida and the FedEx tracking showed to my surprise that they had really been shipped from Madison, Wisconsin! (For you who aren’t the greatest with geography, Madison is about 850 miles west of Chesapeake Bay!!!)
The “Oprah Magazine Cookbook” published in 2008, there’s a recipe from the restaurant whose kitchen makes Oprah’s “favorite crab cakes”. Which restaurant was that? Why the now long defunct “Polo Grill“.
The November/2008 edition of Washingtonian magazine featured an interview with Art Smith who had been Oprah’s personal chef for 10+ years! In response to a “Washingtonian” question asking him what was Oprah’s most favorite dish, Art replied: “Ms. Winfrey spent a large majority of her life in Baltimore when she started out, and if you ever want to make her smile, make a crab cake. I use Maryland crab, and I don’t put much binder in them. When you touch them, they fall apart—that’s how it should be.”
Hmm… With the chef making crab cakes from scratch which put a smile on Oprah’s face for ten years, I got to wonder how many crab cakes that came out of greater Baltimore she actually was eating…FYI -Chef Art Smith operates his restaurant “Art & Soul” in DC at 415 New Jersey Ave, NW. Interestingly, there are no crab cakes on “Art & Soul”s menu!
Around August of 2009, there was a big deal made about Oprah featuring on her TV show Robert DuVal’s mother’s recipe for crab cakes.
The May 15, 2010 edition of the New York Times announced that Oprah considered that nobody does crab cakes better than Obrycki’s Crab House in Baltimore. Rob Cernak, a son of the original founders of Obrycki’s was quoted as saying ““We went from 15 mail orders a day, to about 150 overnight,” Cernak said of being recognized by the former Baltimore news anchor. “It’s incredible, the power of Oprah.”
FYI – Obrycki’s original downtown Baltimore location closed in 2011 but the family is currently running a new Obrycki’s at BWI/Thurgood Marshall airport between gates B-9 and B-11 and their crab cakes are available for purchase from their web site.
Can you point out any other connections between Baltimore area sourced crab cakes and Oprah? Drop us a line and let us know about them so we can them in here!