Maybe now the New England vs. Manhattan debate will be settled once and for all.
The sixth annual Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown is coming to the Vancouver Aquarium, Nov. 20. 12 different chowders from British Columbia’s top chefs will vie for the coveted chowder crown. Tickets are on sale now for the event, where guests will have the chance to sample the chowders, paired with craft beers, then vote for their favourites.
Traditionally, chowder was a humble dish eaten by French fishermen and consisting of scraps from the day’s catch. The classic, New England-style recipe consists of bacon, clams and potatoes in a rich, creamy broth with a mix of carrots, celery and onions. (Manhattanites, of course, eat their chowder with a tomato, rather than a cream, base.)
But the competitors in the annual Chowder Chowdown are known to take the recipe in brave new directions. Last year’s winner, Chris Whittaker of Forage restaurant, replaced the lowly clam with spot prawns, the succulent, wild-caught crustaceans that Vancouverites go ga-ga for in the summer months. Other alternative ingredients have included everything from salmon and scallops to apples, cheese and parsnips, according to an article by the Vancouver Sun’s Joanne Sasvari.
The event supports Ocean Wise, the sustainable seafood initiative started from the Vancouver Aquarium. Ocean Wise works directly with suppliers and restaurants to help identify fish caught, harvested or farmed in a sustainable way. Currently, more than 3,100 restaurants across North America feature Ocean Wise fish, marked on menus with their unique, fish-head logo.
Chefs facing off in this year’s Chowder Chowdown are luminaries from some of Vancouver’s top restaurants, including COAST, YEW at the Four Seasons, Forage at the Listen Hotel, C Restaurant, Herons at the Fairmont Waterfront and Edible Canada. Edible Canada’s Eric Pateman has emerged as an early front-runner, announcing that he’ll be incorporating Dungeness crab in his emphatically New England-style chowder. “I’m a cream guy,” Pateman says in the Vancouver Sun. “I feel ripped off if I get a tomato chowder.”
Tickets for the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown, held Nov. 20 inside the Vancouver Aquarium, are $50.
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