10th Annual Chowdafest is October 1st: 40 Restaurants Compete, YOU Judge

Stephanie Webster

Chowdafest is right around the corner on October 1st from 11am-3pm.  Every year, event director Jim Keenan scourers all over New England in search of the best chowder, soup and bisque to invite to this annual competition.  “Each year we try to increase the level of competition as Chowdafest is a competition between the best” Keenan said.  “When you win Chowdafest, you've earned it.” he added.

Chowdafest limits participation to just 40 restaurants and they compete in one of five categories.  “You can't compare a classic New England clam chowder to a lobster bisque or to a chicken tortilla soup so categories are needed” Keenan says.  The competition categories include “classic” New England clam chowder, “traditional” chowder reserved just for clear broth Rhode Island and tomato based Manhattan clam chowders, “creative” chowders, “soup & bisque” and a new “vegetarian” category.  “We've always had vegetarian entrees before but we decided they needed their own category this year which really helps foodies who aren't fans of seafood” Keenan noted.

Chowdafest is a true people's choice event where both young and old rate each sample they try on a scale from 7 to 10.5 with half point intervals.  Everyone is a judge and given a spoon, ballot, and pencil and then enjoy unlimited sampling.  Keenan says the rating system is the fairest way to determine the best as it's not the quantity of votes a restaurant gets, it's the quality.  The restaurant in each category with the best overall averaged rating is named champion.  

Here is the 2017 roster by category with their entry:

New England Clam Chowder Category:

  • 250 Market from Portsmouth NH
  • B.R.Y.A.C from Bridgeport CT
  • City Fish Market from Wethersfield CT
  • Michael Jordan's Steak House from Uncasville CT
  • My Brothers' Place from Webster MA
  • Pike Place Chowder* from Seattle WA
  • Robert's Maine Grill from Kittery ME
  • Sedona Taphouse from Norwalk CT
  • Take Five Cookery from Hartford CT

Traditional Chowder Category:

  • 348 Oyster Bar from Fairfield CT (Manhattan clam chowder)
  • Crave 52 from Fairfield CT (Rhode Island clam chowder)
  • Donahue's Clam Castle* from Madison CT (Rhode Island clam chowder)
  • Dunville's from Westport CT (Rhode Island clam chowder)
  • Morgan Fish House from Rye NY (Manhattan clam chowder)

Creative Chowder Category:

  • Bobby Q's Cue & Co from Norwalk CT (smoked chicken & corn chowder)
  • Crabby Al's from Thomaston CT (spicy crab & corn chowder)
  • Harbor Harvest from Norwalk CT (smoked salmon & oyster chowder)
  • Hub & Spoke from Bridgeport CT (smoked chicken corn chowder)
  • Our House Bistro* from Winooski VT (friend seafood & sweet potato chowder)
  • Rothbard Ale & Larder from Westport CT (kielbasa, clam & salsify chowder)
  • Sam the Clam Pub & Grub from Southington CT (Caribbean clam chowder)
  • Tarry Lodge from Westport CT (Montauk chowder)
  • The Blind Rhino in Norwalk CT (blue crab & clam chowder)
  • The Irons from Mystic CT (bourbon bacon corn chowder)

Soup & Bisque Category:

  • Chef's Table from Fairfield CT (seafood gumbo)
  • Crab Shell* from Stamford (lobster bisque)
  • Geronimo from Fairfield and New Haven CT (chicken tortilla soup)
  • J. Timothy's Taverne from Plainville CT (cheddar and ale soup)
  • Mr. Crab from Bridgeport CT (lump crab & spinach bisque)
  • Rory's from Darien (lobster bisque)
  • Saltwater Restaurant from Norwalk CT (scallop & butternut squash bisque)
  • Shell & Bones from New Haven CT (shrimp and squash bisque)

Vegetarian Category:

  • Bailey's Backyard from Ridgefield CT (white bean and roasted corn chowder)
  • Harbor Harvest from Norwalk CT (zucchini blossom bisque)
  • Harvest Wine Bar with locations in Greenwich, New Haven and Westport CT
    (smoked corn and squash chowder)
  • Knot Norms in Norwalk CT (roasted corn and poblano chowder)
  • Old Post Tavern from Fairfield CT (truffle mushroom bisque)
  • TruNorth Tavern & Table from Bridgeport CT (farmer's market chowder) defending champion 

Tickets are on sale online at www.chowdafest.org/tickets. $20 adults, $5 kids (6-12) and parking is FREE.  AAA members save 25% on an adult ticket either online or at the door (must have card)

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, BlumShapiro, Butterworks Farm, Cabot Creamery, Chabaso Bakery, Chica de Gallo, City Carting, Clover, CT Bites, Copp's Island Oysters, The Farmer's Cow, The Farm Woodbury, Foxon Park Soda, Frontera Foods, Galilean Seafood, HamletHub, Harney & Sons Tea, Hotel Zero Degrees, Kids Helping Kids, Local Food Rocks, Lowe's, Metro North Railroad, MINI of Fairfield County, Mohegan Sun, NECCO, New England Coffee, Ocean Spray, OmnomCT, Peapod by Stop & Shop, People's United Bank, Ready Pac Foods, Revol Mix, Tate's Bake Shop, WEBE 108, Westminster Bakery and Yankee Magazine.