SOUPer Bowl Sunday – 6th Annual Chowdafest Dishes Out Tasty Competition

Kathleen Atkins

This past Sunday the 6th Annual Chowdafest took place at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, drawing 7,000 chowder, soup and bisque fanatics from across the state.  It was perfect prelude to the Big Game – a culinary “SOUP”er Bowl.  

31 Connecticut restaurants set the scene, ladling out warm chowders and soups.  Upon arrival, Chowdafest attendees were given a scoring card.  As guests leisurely made their way around the perimeter of the rink sipping on samples, they were asked to rank each sample to determine the 2014 Chowdafest Champions.   The competition was broken down into 4 categories: Best New England Clam Chowder, best Manhattan/Rhode Island Clam Chowder, Best Creative Chowder, and Best Soup & Bisque.  The top three contenders were awarded in each category and competition was tight!

Every restaurant was sure to leave their signature stamp on their chowders and soups. Guvnor’s Brewery from Norwalk dished out a delicious New England clam chowder made with their own brewed beer, while Bernard’s of Ridgefield added smoky bacon to richen the flavors.  Bistro 7 of Wilton served up their award winning Buttery Nut Bisque, while Indigo by the Water of Milford brought the heat with their Cajun Shrimp and Chorizo Chowder.  The variations were endless and delicious!

Energy was high in the arena as attendees gushed over their favorites.  The Sacred Heart University band added to atmosphere with their classic, toe-tapping, hum-along marching band songs.  In addition to the soups, guests could sample craft beers and wine, ice cream, and a taste of Italy in the cleverly named “Ciao” -dafest section.  New this year was the cooking demonstration stage that featured 4 demonstrations throughout the course of the afternoon.  One demonstration featured 13-year-old, Hunter Zampa of Stamford.  Zampa won Food Network’s special teen edition of Chopped this year and is a top chef in the making.  “I would have never expected all this a year ago.  It has been amazing!” said Zampa.  His culinary goal: to become an iron chef.  

This event, which started 6 years ago as a small fundraiser at the Unitarian Church of Westport for the Connecticut Food Bank has become one of Connecticut’s leading culinary events.  “The energy is so exciting,” says Tom Wagner of Stamford.  “It is a great event that brings the communities of Fairfield County together for a great cause.”  Chowdafest has raised over 60,000 meals for the Connecticut Food Bank.

2014 Chowdafest Champions 

New England Clam:
1st - Donovan's (Norwalk)
2nd - Guvnor's Brewery (Norwalk)
3rd - Rory's (Darien)

Manhattan/Rhode Island Clam:
1st - Dunville's (Westport)
2nd - Liquid Lunch (Shelton/Milford)
3rd - Brennan's (Norwalk)

Creative Chowder:
1st - Brewhouse (Norwalk)
2nd - The Spread (Norwalk)
3rd - Ginger Man (Norwalk, Greenwich)

Soup & Bisque:
1st - Bistro 7 (Wilton)
2nd - Cask Republic (New Haven/Stamford)
3rd - Local Kitchen (Fairfield)