Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chowdafest 2015 Promises To Be Biggest Yet


Calling all chowdaheads! Connecticut's Chowdafest, presented by Stop and Shop, will have a new home to host the biggest competition to date. Mark your calendars because it all goes down on Sunday, Oct. 11th at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, CT. This year Renato and I are proud to add Local Food Rocks to the list of sponsors for this event.

“We've become a true destination event attracting thousands of food lovers from all over New England including bus tours so making it easy to get to and from Chowdafest was a priority” said Jim Keenan, event director. “We're excited showcase Connecticut's oldest and finest state park. I'd like to thank the park authority along with the Friends of Sherwood Island, a non-profit association dedicated to preserving and improving Sherwood Island, in helping secure the park for this marquee event.”

We think the best part is that getting your slurp on at Chowdafest raises funds for Community Plates, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating hunger through the rescue of food from restaurants, grocery stores, and farms. Attendees pay to be a judge. Kids and adults alike get a spoon, ballot, and pencil, then experience unlimited sampling rating each chowder, soup and bisque they try.


The Competition

This year's competition will feature restaurants from 12 different states. And,  Pike Place Chowder from Seattle, considered America's #1 chowder is going to be competing in Chowdafest's Best New England clam category! “We started winning city-wide competitions, then state-wide competitions and finally competitions up & down the west coast but everyone said that's nice but can we beat anyone from New England?” said Larry Mellum, founder and owner. “That made us wonder whether we could. We entered the Great Chowder Cook-Off in Newport RI and won that three times, even getting enshrined into their hall of fame. Now the question is can we win at Chowdafest? This looks to be a very competitive field. We honored to be included.” said Mellum.

Pike's will be up against Donovan's (Norwalk, CT), the category's reigning champ four years running, along with Dunville's (Westport, CT), Little Barn (Westport, CT), the infamous Luke's Lobster (NYC), O'Neill's (Norwalk, CT), first timer Olio on Hope (Stamford, CT), Rory's (Darien) and local favorite The Restaurant at Rowyaton Seafood plus newcomer Shell + Bones (New Haven, CT).


Chowdafest has a separate category reserved just for Manhattan (red) and Rhode Island (clear) chowders. “The competition in this category has gotten personal” said Keenan. The category includes restaurants from Rhode Island and Manhattan defending the honor of their namesake chowders. “No one makes a better Rhode Island chowder than someone from Rhode Island” said Perry Raso of Matunuck Oyster Bar in South Kingston RI who are no stranger to winning chowder competitions. Rounding out the Rhode Island chowder competition includes shoreline favorite Bill's Seafood (Westbrook CT), the popular Finn's Harborside (Warrick RI), newcomer Chefs' Table (Fairfield, CT) and local favorite Uberti's (Stratford, CT).

The Manhattan side of this category gets even more competitive. It includes The Soup Spot of West 31st Street (NY) defending Manhattan's honor against an award-winning list that includes Vermont's Reservoir Restaurant and Tap Room, recently named best Manhattan clam chowder in New England by Yankee Magazine. It also includes three-time defending Long Beach Island Chowderfest champion Stefano's plus defending champion Gray Goose (Fairfield, CT). Grow, a soon to be opened new restaurant in Shelton owned by Liquid Lunch, will be using their Manhattan clam chowder recipe that came in second the past two years featuring fresh produce from Stone Garden Farms in Shelton.

Six of the ten restaurants are new to the Creative Chowder category and will put defending champion, The Spread (Norwalk, CT), to the test. Reigning chowder champion, Octagon Steakhouse (Mystic, CT), has a culinary pedigree that makes them a strong contender to win it all. Vermont Chowder champs, Our House Bistro (Burlington, VT) along with award-winning Smithsonian Chowderhouse (North Hampton, MA), won't make winning easy for anyone. The competition also includes The Chelsea (Fairfield, CT), a three-time category winner Ginger Man (Norwalk + Greenwich, CT), Ri Ra Irish Pub (Portsmouth, NH + Portland ME), the highly acclaimed On20 (Hartford, CT), a multi-Chowdafest-winner SBC (Southport, Milford + Branford, CT) plus Simply Delicious (Norwalk, CT).


The Soup + Bisque category features many past Chowdafest favorites including Cask Republic (Stamford + New Haven, CT), Liquid Lunch (Shelton + Milford, CT), Local Kitchen and Beer Bar (Norwalk + Fairfield, CT), Old Post Tavern (Fairfield, CT), Parallel Post (Trumbull, CT), defending champion Soup Thyme (Monroe, CT) plus Tikkaway (New Haven, CT) who had the highest rated bisque last year. New in this category is Sam's American Bistro (Stamford, CT), Geronimo (Fairfield + New Haven, CT) plus Osteria Romanna (Norwalk, CT). This category is wide open as the talent and creativity are so high that there is no clear cut favorite.

Get Your Tickets

Adult tickets are just $15 and kids (6-12) $5. Parking is FREE. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased on-line at www.Chowdafest.org. For additional information about Chowdafest, please visit www.chowdafest.org or email event director, Jim Keenan at chowdafest@gmail.com

Chowdafest, presented by Stop + Shop, is sponsored by: AAA Northeast, Aquafina, BlumShapiro, Cabot Creamery, City Carting, CT Bites, Dunkin Donuts, HamletHub, Kids Helping Kids, MINI of Fairfield County, New Milford Farms, Ocean Spray, OmNomCT.com, Pepperidge Farms, Peapod, PEZ, Sustainable America, Tostitos, The Beat Magazine, The Farmer's Cow, Vegware, WEBE 108 and Westminster Bakery.
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