Chowder lovers take note: On Saturday, December 13, at 12 noon, the 30th Annual Great Chowder Contest will take place in the Mini Park off Main Street in Edgartown. Part of Christmas in Edgartown, the popular tasting event draws foodies from across the sound and throughout the Island.
Tilma Zyla, an Edgartown Board of Trade committee member and an officer at the Edgartown National Bank, described the contest in an e-mail to the Times as “a very well established event that is growing year after year.” She said that this year in particular the event “has grabbed a lot of attention from the greater Boston area and the Cape.”
The Great Chowder Competition may not be as dramatic as the Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, but it’s becoming a tradition on its own. Like the Derby, it’s a tribute to the bounty of local waters.
The competition relies on ticket holders. Guests sample clam and seafood chowders and a winner is selected by popular vote. Though local eateries have had the upper hand through the years, contestants who’ve crafted winning chowders aren’t limited to the restaurant and catering businesses of Martha’s Vineyard.
“Last year [the winner] was the Rotary Club of MV with an assist from Murdick’s Cafe” Ms. Zyla said. “The year before it was the Wharf Pub. MVRHS has always had a great representation.”
This year, the event has drawn in some fresh competitors as well as former winners. “We have a few new participants this year,” Ms. Zyla said. “The Terrace at The Charlotte Inn, Isola MV, and MV Chowder Co. (back this year after a year off). The Edgartown National Bank will be participating as well.”
Whereas some contestants try to change up their recipes each year, Will Coogan, co-owner of the Wharf Pub, said his establishment’s entry will be the “same quahog clam chowder we serve at the Wharf. Actually, we always enter the same one.” However, he did admit to a departure at one time. “I believe one year we did add applewood smoked bacon to the mix.”
Marco Porlles, a chef at the Harbor View Hotel, disclosed to the Times that the entry he’s concocting for the hotel will have a Peruvian flair to it. He plans to include Peruvian purple potatoes, crispy quinoa, and Peruvian chili peppers in his chowder.
John Robert Hall, Newes Pub general manager, confirmed that chef Douglas “Bubbles” Sabin will be drawing on Portuguese influences for the Newes entry. “We will be doing a pub version of a Portuguese Fish Chowder,” said Mr. Hall, who broadly described Mr. Sabin’s chowder as a “tomato and clam stock base finished with a hint of cream.” Mr. Hall said Christmas in Edgartown and the Chowder Fest are favorites for the Newes staff. “We are firm believers of giving back and participating in community events.”
Indeed, contestants and attendees alike do give back at the Great Chowder Competition. “One hundred percent of the $8 ticket benefits the Red Stocking Fund,” Ms. Zyla said.
The Red Stocking Fund is a charity that distributes food, clothing, and toys to less fortunate local families around the holidays.
For more information about the Great Chowder Competition, visit edgartownboardoftrade.com.