Crab mallets, tables
covered in brown
paper, and buckets
for shells are among
the essentials for
hosting a crab feast.
FOR ADVICE ON HOW TO COOK live creatures with sharp pincers (and serve them
with ;nesse), we went to the experts—the Capital Crab Co. ( capitalcrab.com), co-founded by Tim Walsh and Michael Urgo. The two childhood friends, who grew up
in Potomac, run a food truck and catering business, and aside from home events,
stage crab feasts at weddings, fundraisers, of;ce parties and more. They handle
any or all of the logistics, from setup to cleanup, along with side dishes and on-site cooking. And they’re well suited for the task: Walsh worked at the Bethesda
Crab House for about a decade, and Urgo managed restaurants while working for
Urgo Hotels & Resorts, his family’s Bethesda-based business. The two also have
ownership stakes in several metro-area restaurants.
How to stage a
Get the proper cooking equipment.
That means a big pot with a lid and a
steaming rack or basket on the bottom,
and long tongs or thick rubber gloves for
transporting the crabs to the pot and taking
Determine how many crabs you’ll need.
Capital Crab recommends four to six large
crabs per person, or ;ve to seven medium
crabs. But at every crab feast, there’s always
someone who knocks off a dozen, and another
guest who can handle only two, Urgo says.
Cover a sturdy table with brown
paper. Urgo recommends avoiding glass
tables because all it takes is one miss with a
mallet (it’s happened). Brown paper is cleaner,
looks better and lasts longer than newspaper,
which is thinner and can bleed ink.
Organize each place setting.
Each person should have a crab mallet and
thin crab knife or paring knife to help remove
the shell. Set out individual ramekins with
apple cider vinegar, melted butter and extra
Old Bay or other seafood seasoning.
Consider handheld side dishes. These
include corn on the cob, spiced shrimp and
hush puppies. Coleslaw is popular, but that
means forks with messy ;ngers.
Put shell buckets on the table.
Urgo says anything from ;ower pots or mixing
bowls to 12-pack beer boxes or wine buckets
Have plenty of hand wipes.
Set out several rolls of paper towels, and
distribute moist towelettes after the feast.
Buy thick contractor trash bags for
cleanup. Crab shells are sharp and will cut
through thinner bags, which also can be an
ineffective barrier against smells, particularly
on a hot day. Without heavy bags, Urgo says,
“it can get stinky.”
Here are Urgo’s directions
for staging a crab feast: