John Shields, an American chef and food writer, is the Maryland Writers’ Association’s December Notable Maryland Author.

Often called “The Culinary Ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay,” Shields has written multiple cookbooks on the cuisine of the Chesapeake region. He also is the host of two PBS television shows, “Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields” and “Coastal Cooking with John Shields.”

Shields’ career began informally. At an early age, he worked with his grandmother, Gertie Cleary, in a Baltimore church hall kitchen. They fixed businessmen’s luncheons and parish fundraising dinners for dozens to hundreds of guests.

His professional career began by accident. After studying at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, he moved to Cape Cod to become a rock star. He played the piano in bars. One day, an injured friend asked him to work his kitchen shift in a popular Cape Cod inn. That first day making 36 pie shells shifted his focus and morphed into years as a chef, restaurant owner, author and host of two TV shows.

Shields now is a co-owner and proprietor of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art, which just ended its 21st year in business.

Shields has spent decades exploring and championing the Chesapeake region, and his newest book, “The New Chesapeake Kitchen,” articulates his essential philosophy, as well as his commitment to and love for the Chesapeake — its land and waters, its people, its history and its food traditions.

His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Coastal Living and Southern Living. He is a frequent guest on WYPR radio, local TV and at public events. He is an active member of many organizations, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, James Beard Foundation and Chefs’ Collaborative.

The Maryland Writers’ Association is a statewide voluntary, not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting Marylanders in the art, business and craft of writing in all its forms. Visit for more information.

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