Pass the Chow-DAH! Annual Cook-Off Heats Up in Newport This Weekend
The Newport Yachting Center's 31st annual Schweppes Great Chowder Cook-Off will be held this Saturday, June 2, from noon to 6 p.m.
Are you ready for some chow-DAH?
The Newport Yachting Center’s 31st annual Schweppes Great Chowder Cook-Off kicks off the traditional summer season in Newport this Saturday, June 2, from noon to 6 p.m.
Two dozen competitors will vie for “Best Clam," “Best Seafood" and “Best Creative” chowder glory.
The event will also feature all-you-can-eat “chowda" or "chow-dah," the Clam Cake Chow-Down competition, live music and a variety of entertainment for all ages.
'Eat' the Competition
Among the competitors this year will be a visitor from the east — the Bunratty Manor Hotel from County Clare, Ireland, which was recently crowned champion of the Irish National Chowder Cook-Off.
Competitors should be just a wee bit nervous. The Irish cook-off is held in Kinsale, which is known as the Food Capital of Ireland.
“There are no odds-on-favorites to win any category this year as last year’s winners won for the third time and as a result have been retired to the Chowder Hall of Fame,” said Mike Martin, director of Newport Waterfront Events at the Newport Yachting Center.
“So, I’m sure those restaurants which placed last year, like Stefano’s Seafood Restaurant from Long Beach Island, N.J., and the Melville Grille in Portsmouth are going to really be gunning for chowder glory along with the Irish champion, the Bunratty Manor Hotel.”
This year, the highly anticipated Newport competition for bragging rights has more of an offering. The prize pot has doubled to $13,000 for the top three winners in each category.
Newcomers to the festival this year also include Luke’s Lobster/Hurricane’s Soup and Alisson’s Restaurant of Greene and Kennebunkport, Maine, respectively, as well as Bittersweet Farm Restaurant & Tavern in Westport, MA, and Leo’s Ristorante in Bristol.
The nation’s best chefs, representing restaurants, catering companies and institutional dining facilities, will prepare a whopping 4,000 gallons of chowderand serve samples of their creations to thousands of chowder-loving festival attendees, who also serve as judges.
A complete list of this year's competitors can be seen in the pdf at right.
Last year's chowder winners were "Best Clam," Tony’s Cedar Key Clam Chowder, Cedar Key, FL; "Best Seafood," Michael’s Seafood Restaurant, Carolina Beach, NC; and "Best Creative," The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar, Newport.
Clam Cake Chow-Down
But it's not all about "chowdah," says organizers.
The “Clam Cake Chow-Down” eating competition will determine who can eat a half-dozen clam cakes the fastest.
This contest will kick-off with qualifying rounds throughout the day on the Courtyard Stage, leading up to the Clam Cake Chow-Down Grand Finals to take place at 5:45 p.m.
The winner will receive a $100 cash prize with medals going to the top two finishers.
And, if chowder lovers are looking to eat something without using a spoon, Chef Timothy Mulligan will serve up recipes featuring favorite Stop & Shop products.
Barefoot Wines will be back with its "Barefoot Beach," where attendees can sample different wine varietals and play games to win prizes. Or, festival-goers can relax at the Amstel Light Beer Garden and try Amstel Light Beer Bike from Amsterdam.
Put Your 'Clams' Together for These Musical Acts
The event will also feature three stages of live musical entertainment, including Rebel Heat and The Ravers on the Shell (Courtyard) Stage; Steel Appeal and Brian & Betsy on the Party Point Stage; and Devlin and Dio gracing the Sunset (Marina) Stage.
There's several events for children, too. RIPTA, sponsor of KidSTOPs, asks children to pick up their RIPTA kidSTOP Pass upon entering the festival.
Children can collect stamps at every kidSTOP they visit, including The Amica Family Fun Area featuring chef hat decorating and the Farmers Cow & Rhody Fresh KidSTOPs where children can learn about the importance of local dairy farming.
Entertainment for kids also includes Mister Twister and his twisted balloon creations, Captain William Kidd & The Freemen of the Sea, fundraising activities for local non-profits, crafts and more.
Other sponsors of the event include Stop & Shop, Amstel Light, Amica Insurance, RIPTA, Barefoot Wine, Dunkin’ Donuts, Life is good., Cox Communications, TD Bank, MAP Food Service, Ltd., Cardi’s Furniture, Pepsi, Stonyfield Yogurt, Kashi, Apple & Eve, Kraft, MiO, Capri Sun, Maxwell House, Gevalia, Saltine Premium, Snow’s by Bumble Bee, Rhody Fresh, Farmer’s Cow, iHeartRadio, yellowbook360, B101, WHJJ/WHJY, Coast 93.3, WPRI 12 and FOX Providence.
How Much To Shell Out
Tickets to attend cost $20 through Friday, June 1. Tickets will cost $25 on the day of the event, Saturday, June 2.
All tickets include free admittance to the event for children, under the age of 12, as long as a paying adult accompanies them.
Tickets can also be purchased at the Newport Yachting Center Box Office, 4 Commercial Wharf (on America’s Cup Avenue), in downtown Newport.