Cultivating the Chesapeake

Cultivating the Chesapeake

In the pristine waters where the Tarkill Creek flows into the Chesapeake Bay, you’ll find some of the best oysters on the East Coast, thanks to master cultivator Bob Boardman of Tarkill Aquaculture Ventures. Chef Gary Patterson of McCormick for Chefs and Bob Boardman of Tarkill Aquaculture Ventures discuss the nuances of oyster flavor, take in the beauty of the Tarkill oyster farm, and elevate a few classic recipes with the iconic regional twist of OLD BAY.

Q & A with Gary Patterson & Bob Boardman

OLD BAY is one of those spices that is so iconic that it's considered a singular flavor all its own. How would you go about describing it to someone who has never tasted it before?

Good question. I wouldn't consider OLD BAY a singular flavor – I think it's a complex layering of many flavors. You start with that strong hit of salt, which complements the natural brininess seafood. You get a touch of heat from a blend of red and black peppers. You get the nice flavors that tie into vegetables that make up the base of so many classic dishes: onion, celery, carrots– savory, but with some sweeter notes. When they’re eaten together, it’s well balanced and certainly has the hallmarks of a signature flavor, but behind it all there’s that expert-level layering of different notes.

What is it about OLD BAY that makes it a perfect fit for seafood?

OLD BAY was originally designed specifically for seafood. Like McCormick, it was born in Baltimore right on the Chesapeake Bay – you may not know this, but it was actually named for a ship that used to ferry people between Baltimore and Virginia called “the Old Bay Line”.  Back then, crabs were extremely abundant and on every table in the region. People started looking for that point of differentiation, that “special sauce” that made their crabs a little bit more special than the next guy’s.

Outside of seafood, where else have you seen OLD BAY used that really surprised you?

Well as a Marylander, we put it on everything under the sun. It’s great on French fries, chicken – if there’s anything that’s kind of basic on its own, we throw OLD BAY on it. Probably the most interesting tradition I’ve seen down here is something called a “Crabby Boh”, which is a play on our local beer Natty Boh. Essentially you take a pint glass and run the rim with a thick coating of OLD BAY, then pour the beer in, and that’s it. Pair that with some raw oysters and you’re good.

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Tips from the Chef

po boy OLD BAY

Elevating Signature Flavors

OLD BAY is the ultimate secret weapon, adding new dimension to many standard menu offerings. Imagine how far you can take common recipe components - breadings, batters, sauces, dips - when you add the extra boost of savory flavor and regional authenticity of this signature blend.

pro tip oysters

Shucking an Oyster

Maximize your customers’ seafood experience with this pro tip. See an oyster shucked and enjoyed right at the source with a practical, straightforward tutorial by Bob Boardman from Tarkill Aquaculture Ventures. A seasoned Chesapeake oyster farmer, Bob lives, breathes, and eats oysters on a daily basis.

Cultivating the Chesapeake

Get to know OLD BAY

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