Updated with full list of winners, including second and third place, plus the kids’ coloring contest winner.
Hey readers, just when I thought my job as restaurant writer could not get any better — I was asked to be a judge at the Clam Chowder Cook-Off, held Saturday at Edmonds Yacht Club. The picturesque facility was a perfect setting to host the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce seafood-themed contest.
Competition between restaurants was intense. Ivar’s Seafood Bar, Scott’s Bar & Grill, Chanterelle, Soup’s On Café, Here & There Grill, Mel’s Old Village Pub, Salt & Iron and Bar Dojo each offered Edmonds community attendees their delicious versions of clam chowder.
Joined by My Edmonds News Artfully Edmonds columnist Emily Hill and Dave Earling, our Edmonds Mayor, I sat down to a delicious task, a blind taste test of eight different clam chowder recipes. Eight containers of piping hot seafood soup, identified only by the numeral on each cup, were delivered to each of us seated at the judges table.
By definition, chowder is a soup or stew of seafood (clams or other fish) usually made with milk or tomatoes, salt pork, onions, and other vegetables (potatoes, celery and so on). The cups presented contained the definitive ingredients and were enhanced with salty bacon, pepper and other spices, and topped with “Cutting Edge” ingredients like roasted pumpkin seeds, or tarragon.
Tasked with selecting the best chowder in two categories: Traditional and Cutting Edge (anything outside of “traditional” chowder) recipes, we tasted, sipped water and crunched the occasional saltine, then repeated the steps seven more times. Wow, not an easy decision when presented with the unique and delicious options.
Our unanimous Traditional choice was cup number two, identified as Salt & Iron’s entry. This traditional-style chowder’s ample portion of tender clams in a milk broth was enhanced by bits of bacon, skins on potatoes and a lovely butter finish in one’s mouth.
Cutting Edge describes Bar Dojo’s cuisine. No surprise that cup number five, their entry, won that category. Crunchy topping, plentiful potatoes, celery, onions and of course plump clams made this one a winner with the judges.
Attendees voted too. The People’s Choice Award mirrored the judges, as Best Traditional Chowder went to Salt & Iron. Second place went to Chanterelle and Ivar’s took third. But voters decided the Best Cutting-Edge Chowder belonged to Here and There Grill. Second place went to Bar Dojo.
Our last decision was difficult. Most tables draped with fish nets and sea baubles made it a challenge for the judges. Brook’s lovely turquoise blouse, which matched the table’s theme colors, may have been the item that tipped the scales in Chanterelle’s favor to win Best Booth. People’s votes agreed with the judges.
Chowder wasn’t the only option for sustenance at today’s event. One gets thirsty, and then there’s dessert…
Salish Sea Brewing Company was the featured brew in the beer garden on the patio, with craft beverage for those over age 21. Canarino Gelato offered several of their yummy flavors for purchase, along with coffee and soft drinks.
Proceeds from the cook-off go to support the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, so it can continue to bring wonderful community events to the city of Edmonds.
The event was a success. Shortly after 11 a.m. the Yacht Club entrance jammed with folks in line and more already inside wielding tasting spoons. By 1 p.m. a sign said “SOLD OUT.” An Edmonds Chamber spokesperson estimated 700 in attendance.
Next year they’re going to need a larger venue.
Finally, here’s the entry for Mia Bloom, who won the Edmonds Boys & Girls Club-sponsored kids’ coloring contest.
A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds.