Food & Drink

Oprah Winfrey orders Pappas crabcakes for 'Henrietta Lacks' movie crew

Oprah Winfrey and the film crew for "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" got their Baltimore seafood fix last night with an order of crabcakes from Pappas Seafood Co.

Winfrey, who has been seen around the city filming the HBO movie, ordered 175 crabcakes and salad from the Parkville-based seafood company, Pappas chief finance officer Karen Zimmerer said.


"They were so spectacular that my greatest pleasure was seeing everyone else feel the pleasure that I've received so many times from Pappas," Winfrey said in an interview. "They did not skimp one iota of crab meat. Even though they were doing 175, and I had just called Richard [Sher] the night before, asking if they could do it."

Winfrey featured the crabcakes as one of her "Oprah's Favorite Things 2015."


Zimmerer and her sister Lisa Pappas delivered the catering order to Winfrey and the cast and crew of the HBO movie, adapted from Rebecca Skloot's 2010 book. The film is based on the life of a Baltimore County woman whose cells were harvested without her knowledge while she was a patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951. The cells were developed into the first immortal cell line, which continues to be used in medical research.

Zimmerer said she and Pappas spent some time with Winfrey and the film team. A number of the crew members hadn't tried crabcakes before and were asking for suggestions for how to eat them, she said.

"We were going for old-school Baltimore style," Zimmerer said. "Put 'em on crackers with some mustard."

But that's not how Winfrey takes her crabcakes, said Zimmerer, who has dined with Winfrey before. Instead, she likes them with a lemon slice and cocktail sauce.

By the time Zimmerer left, all 175 of the crabcakes had been gobbled up.

"It's still really surreal," she said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Chris Kaltenbach contributed to this story.