Chowing down on chowdaaar — for a good cause, of course

Chowing down on chowdaaar — for a good cause, of course

Big Easy’s Seafood & Steakhouse wins first annual chowder contest at Oyster Shuckfest

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DEC 08 14 – 10:30 AM — You could say I had my fill of chowder the other day at the first annual Oysterwise Shuckfest held at Central Bierhaus sports bar (located in the maze of Kanata’s Centrum Shopping Centre), which in total raised $300 for Ocean Wise sustainable seafood.

Oysterwise poster(2)Up for grabs were prizes for the most skilled oyster shucker ($1,000 purse — not shabby), best chowder ($500 prize) and best caesar cocktail ($250).

Of course, I made a personal sacrifice joining a panel of three judges. All seven chowder entries, by the way, were in the New England style (creamy, not tomato-based).

Chowder is a seafood or vegetable stew frequently made with milk and/or cream and served with saltine crackers. New England chowder usually features clams and diced potato in a dairy base; Manhattan style substitutes tomato for the milk and usually omits the potato.

The winning chowder by Jessica Willis of Big Easy's among seven contestants at the first annual Oysterwise Shuckfest held at Central Bierhaus in Kanata

The winning chowder by Jessica Willis of Big Easy’s Seafood & Steakhouse among seven contestants at the first annual Oysterwise Shuckfest held at Central Bierhaus in Kanata. Here, the creamy base was served in a separate little teapot (not shown).

Chowder winner was Jessica Willis from Big Easy’s Seafood & Steakhouse, followed by Tom Panner of Rosie’s Southern Kitchen & Raw Bar, and Mike Stawicki of The Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern in third place.

Jessica’s chowder presented a generous and substantial assortment of seafood with accents of dill and a chili pepper for kick. For added interest, the creamy base was presented in a single-serve teapot.

Bottom left, second-pace chowder by Tom Panner of Rosie's; right, third place Mike Stawicki of Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern

Bottom left, second-pace chowder by Tom Panner of Rosie’s Southern Kitchen & Raw Bar; right, third place by Mike Stawicki of Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern

Best Caesar cocktail from five entries was by Issac Viner of Ace Mercado where sangrita and mescal tequila were presented separately for the customer to add as s/he wished. Second place went to Leigh Anne Moreland of Rosie’s, and third to Andrew Grace of Slice & Co.

Claiming $1,000 top oyster shucking prize from 16 contestants was Simeron Novak of The Whalesbone Oyster House with an adjusted time of 1:45 to present 12 oysters, followed by Ryan Nagy of Montreal, and third place to Peter McCallum of Whalesbone.

Simeron also had the cleanest plate.

Each shucking contestant had to present exactly 12 molluscs on the half-shell, with penalty seconds added for mistakes such as cutting the oyster, dirt or grit in the shell, hanging over the edge of the shell, or blood in the shell (hey, it happens).

Left, winning caesar cocktail by Issac Viner of Ace Mercado. Top right, second-place entry from Leigh Anne Moreland of Rosie's Southern Kitchen & Raw Bar; bottom, third place Andrew Grace of Slice & Co.

Left, winning caesar cocktail by Issac Viner of Ace Mercado. Top right, second-place entry from Leigh Anne Moreland of Rosie’s Southern Kitchen & Raw Bar; bottom, third place Andrew Grace of Slice & Co.

“The event was a huge success,” says Ron Lee, a manager at Central Bierhaus.

“It always makes for a good time when you get a bunch of great people together to celebrate something they are passionate about.

“Ocean Wise month was the perfect platform for this event, where we were able to spread awareness about sustainable seafood while enjoying delicious oysters, tasty chowdaaah, and of course the odd beer or two.”

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