Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown 2013


Get ready foodies, Ocean Wise’s Chowder Chowdown is coming to town!

This event is definitely marked as a highlight on my foodie calendar, so I can’t recommend it enough. If you aren’t sure about attending, I hope my post will give you a better understanding about what its like. 😀

The Chowder competition was held at the Fermenting Room in Distillery District last year and will be the location for this year’s event too. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it started to help raise awareness and support efforts towards issues surrounding sustainable seafood. Chefs compete against one another in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto in hopes of winning the title of Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion of their city. The attending guests and judges sample all the chowder and beer pairings, with guests voting for People’s Choice and a judging panel determining the Chowdown Champion.

Here’s last year’s list of participating restaurants with their chowders (in order of tasting):

  1. Luma – Smoked Ling Cod Chowder
  2. Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill – Chef Stuart Cameron’s Dungeness Crab Chili Corn Chowder
  3. Catch Seafood Restaurant – Chef Charlotte’s Taste of Home Chowder
  4. Earl’s Kitchen and Bar – Razor Clam Chowder
  5. John & Sons Oyster House – Clam and Smokey Bacon Chowder
  6. Trattoria Mercatto –  Zuppa Di Vongole
  7. EPIC – Royal York Ocean Wise Classic Seafood Chowder
  8. The Healthy Butcher – Smokey Seafood Chowder
  9. Hapa Izakaya – House Smoked Oyster Chowder
  10. Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill – Guanciale Smoked Littleneck Clam Chowder
  11. Port Restaurant – New England Banger & Clam Chowder
  12. FishBar – Shrimp & Yuca Chowder
  13. Sodexo – Leanne’s Maritime Chowder
  14. The Sweet Potato – Baja Fish Chowder

In the end, the Champion title went to Chef Doug Neigel of Trattoria Mercatto for their Zuppa Di Vongole and the People’s Choice award went to Leanne English of Sodexo for her Maritime Chowder.

My personal thoughts? Through the sea of chowder sampling, I thought Catch, Trattoria Mercatto, EPIC and Port restaurant stood out the most. EPIC was my personal favourite with its creamy broth and abundance of clams. However, I can understand why Trattoria Mercatto won the Champion title too. Their Zuppa Di Vongole was quite yummy with the chili squash butter, which really pulled it in for me and made them memorable. Their dish consists of Ontario parsnip brodo, Ontario chili squash butter, crispy polenta crusted littleneck clams.

Being the honest foodie that I am, I will mention that last year one of the speakers said not enough chefs paid attention to what beers they paired their chowders with. I have to heartily agree with their comment, as the beers are suppose to compliment the chowders but I found some of them actually brought the taste down. Furthermore, I don’t really want to but I have to call out Pure Spirits–one of my favourite restaurants–for serving a dish with clams that weren’t thoroughly cleaned. Maybe they didn’t have time to properly prep but it was like eating sand and totally ruined their dish for me. That aside, the event was great fun. Honestly hope foodies will check it out!

This year’s event will be held on November 4th, 2014 at 7pm. 28 Distillery Lane, Toronto.

For more information and tickets, click HERE!


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