Chef Zack Mills Reveals Why You Can’t Miss Maryland Blue Crab Season

Discover your new favourite way to eat crab.

by Amy Langrehr

Zack Mills, a Maryland native and Executive Chef at Wit & Wisdom, a Tavern by Michael Mina, perfects dinners throughout the summer with one of his favourite ingredients: Chesapeake Bay blue crab.

Ask anyone in Baltimore or on the Eastern Shore – or anywhere else in Maryland, for that matter – and most will have a strong opinion about the best way to eat crab.

Mine? Surrounded by the unparalleled waterfront views at Wit & Wisdom, A Tavern by Michael Mina, at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore.

There, Executive Chef Zack Mills works his magic with Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. “The meat is sweet, buttery, delicate and delicious,” he says. “It is the best-tasting crabmeat there is.”

Crabbing season on the Chesapeake lasts from April to December.

“The further you get into the summer, the better and better it gets,” says Mills. “What makes that so great is being able to go back, time and time again, and seeing how much bigger and sweeter they get as the year progresses.”

A perfect trifecta

Chef Mills’ signature dish, the Crab Trio, is a great way to try a little of everything that Maryland Crab season has to offer.

His signature dish, the Crab Trio, proves there’s more than one good way to eat crab. The three parts: a spicy tomato-crab stew, a pan-seared crab cake over a charred corn succotash, and a battered and fried soft-shell crab accented by an avocado purée and marinated cherry tomatoes.

“The Crab Trio definitely evokes the spirit of Maryland in the summer,” Mills says. “We keep it light. All the accoutrements highlight the crab.”

Watch Chef Mills prepare the Crab Trio

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Of course, arguably the best way to eat crab is the classic: at a traditional picking with a newspaper-covered picnic table. In addition to the Crab Trio, you can experience a traditional crab feast at Wit & Wisdom throughout the summer.

How to properly pick Maryland blue crabs

Al fresco dining at its best: Throughout the summer, you can enjoy flavourful bites of Chesapeake Bay blue crab at Wit & Wisdom.

“There is nothing better than picking crabs and drinking beer,” Mills says. “It draws people in because it’s delicious. But there’s also a sense of community and family when picking crabs. It’s as much of an event as it is a sit-down dinner.”

Picking crab may look complex, but the reward is succulent meat. Before you sit down at Wit & Wisdom, see how Chef Mills turns crab-picking mystery into crabmeat mastery with the step-by-step guide below.

Set the cooked crab on its back on a cutting board. Illustrated by Chris Lyons
Twist off the legs and claws, lift up tail flap on the underside of body, and twist off and discard. Illustrated by Chris Lyons
Crack the central section of the shell under the tail. Illustrated by Chris Lyons
Using your thumbs to start, pry the shell apart, and then lift it off. Illustrated by Chris Lyons
Remove any white meat from the shell. Pull off the gills and intestines from the side of the central body. Illustrated by Chris Lyons
Crack the claws with a small mallet and extract the meat. Illustrated by Chris Lyons