Best of Delaware
Courtyard chef's crab cakes take top honors for third straight year
10:29 a.m., June 24, 2013--For the third straight year, the crab cakes created by Mark Chopko, executive chef at Marriott’s Courtyard Newark at the University of Delaware, have been named editor’s best upstate by Delaware Today magazine.
The winners of the magazine’s annual survey of readers and critics are featured in the July issue of Delaware Today magazine.
Ockels wins award
While his recipe remains a closely guarded secret, Chopko said he is pleased that his tasty treats have made the hotel’s Courtyard Café the place to go for crab cakes in the First State.
“Accolades are great, and it’s very exciting to be named the best for three years in a row,” Chopko said. “First-time hotel guests and local seafood lovers make it a point to stop by the hotel for their favorite crab cakes.”
William Sullivan, managing director of the campus hotel, said turning this culinary hat trick is remarkable when one considers the number of restaurants striving to please the palates of customers in an area synonymous with seafood.
“It is very significant that a hotel of our size gets this kind of recognition,” Sullivan said. “The reputation of our crab cakes has gotten us new business and helps us to stand out among other area hotels and restaurants.”
Sullivan noted that Chopko’s crab cakes also are a must-have menu item at the 200-plus banquets hosted by the Courtyard, as well as the Taste of Newark and Newark Wine and Dine events.
“We also serve a Blue Hen Chicken dish at our banquets,” Sullivan said. “This is a boneless chicken breast topped with crabmeat. It’s always one of our most requested items.”
Mini-sized versions of the chef’s crustacean creations also are served at the sporty hotel’s lobby bar and bistro.
“People like this smaller-sized version, and the crab cakes can be served as an entrée or an appetizer,” Sullivan said. “We pair this with other items, including mushrooms stuffed with crab meat.”
Comments from customers, including those appearing on TripAdvisor, often run along the lines of, “Well appointed, great staff, best crab cakes ever eaten.”
Perhaps the Courtyard Café’s most ardent supporter is Newark Mayor Vance A. Funk III, a seasoned crab cake connoisseur.
“The crab cakes at the Courtyard are fantastic, and having experienced them many times, I’m not surprised that they won again,” Funk said. “The great thing is that this raises the standard to a higher level, and people now know that Newark is the place to come for crab cakes.”
Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson