The bounty of the sea is inspiring to any chef — all those tasty creatures found under the waves.
Eleven of Calgary and area’s best chefs are set to transform fish and shellfish into their most creative, most delicious soups as the annual Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder Chowdown returns for another year, Nov. 15 at Hotel Arts.
It’s organized by Ocean Wise, the seafood program dedicated to keeping fish and shellfish stocks healthy through sustainable fishing, ensuring people will be able to enjoy them for generations to come. The number of Calgary and area restaurants that support the program by using only ocean-friendly options on their menus continues to grow.
For this competition — where the chefs will be judged by a panel made up of media and industry — using Ocean Wise-approved seafood means everything from traditional chowder ingredient clams to crab, shrimp, octopus and salmon will be dished up. All will vie for the prize of having their recipe named the best chowder this year.
Judging won’t be left solely to the panel, though. Those attending will have a chance to cast their own votes for the People’s Choice Award.
And what’s a bowl of chowder without something to go alongside? Craft breweries will be, well, on tap, offering beers for quaffing between spoonfuls of soup. This year, Wild Rose Brewery, Big Rock Brewery, Brewsters and Half Hitch Brewing will take part.
Those thinking of attending can plot in advance which chowders to try first as all the chefs have already announced their dishes.
From the Calgary Zoo, Felipe Flores will be offering a Selva Prawn Red Pozole. Wesley Larosee from Catch Restaurant and Oyster Bar is making a Chipotle and Charred Corn Clam Chowder, while Jamie Harling of Deane House will be ladling up a Clam and Merguez Chowder. From the Fairmont Palliser, Eraj Jayawickreme will bring a clam chowder with marinated scallops, aerated herb sponge and a duo of caviar. Youri Park of the Hyatt Regency is quadrupling the seafood with his Creamy Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Chowder, garnished with an abalone risotto ball and gochujang grilled octopus. From Last Best Brewing and Distilling, Adam Trotchie is making an Ora King Salmon Chowder, while Raw Bar’s Peter Paiva has created a Tom Yum Chowder for the competition.
Matthias Fong from River Café is taking a different tack with his Chilled Manhattan Clam Chowder. Rodney’s Oyster House’s Carson Killham is flavouring his with saffron, while Patric Grogan from Sky Bistro at the Banff Gondola is playing on his location with his creation, “Ocean to Sky” Seafood Chowder.
The event starts at 7 p.m.
If you wish to chow down on some chowder, tickets are $60 plus GST. They can be purchased at www.vanaqua.org/chowder.
(Photo courtesy Erin Wallace Photography.)
Gwendolyn Richards is a Calgary-based food writer and the author of Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers. She regularly contributes to Avenue Magazine, the Calgary Herald and is the restaurant columnist for Where Calgary. She shares too many pictures of food – and occasionally shoes – on Twitter and Instagram at @gwendolynmr.