Oysters, chowder, and dance highlight annual shellfish soiree

The Home Port chowder came in second place by just one vote. – Photo by Gavin Smith

Updated Thursday May 13

Approximately 175 guests gathered at the Chilmark Community Center on Saturday night to raise money for the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve and expand the Island’s shellfisheries.

During the first part of the evening, guests tasted chowders prepared by Island chefs and restaurants, then voted for their favorites. The Beach Plum Inn won first place, by only one vote, for its wheat-free chowder, made with fennel, caraway, and spring onion. A close second place went to the Home Port for its chowder, featuring Menemsha local seafood, and third place went to Herring Run Kitchens for its scallop, leek, and clam chowder. Lucky Hank’s restaurant in Edgartown also competed.

Amandine Surier Hall, hatchery manager and fundraising coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, said in an email to The Times, “Regardless of who won, it’s a great win for Menemsha and the owners [Bob and Sarah Nixon] of the Beach Plum/Home Port group. They are amazing supporters of us, and we are very grateful for their participation.”

Guests also enjoyed 1,000 shellfish from the one-dollar raw bar organized by Beau Begin at Vineyard Sound Raw Bars. Scott Castro from Bluemoon Oysters, Jack and Sue Blake from Sweet Neck Farm, Roy Scheffer from Roysters, Jeremy Scheffer from Spear Point Oysters, and Tim Broderick at Chilmark Oyster Farm donated seafood for the event.

The fundraiser also featured a wide selection of silent auction items from local businesses, including a popular Quahog Safari Bundle with a clam basket from Dick’s Bait & Tackle, a clam rake from Larry’s Tackle Shop, and a clamming charter for up to six people with Paul Bagnall, Edgartown shellfish constable.

Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish provided musical entertainment for the evening, and many guests took advantage of the spacious dance floor.

While the final amount raised from the evening was not yet available, Ms. Hall estimates that the group will receive $12,000 from the event. For more information about the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, visit mvshellfishgroup.org.