Exploring California – Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-off
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk hosted the annual Clam Chowder Cook-Off once again!
Now in it’s 36th year, it has become so popular that the hosts could no longer cram the event into one day. This year, it was divided into 2 days: Saturday was the amateur chefs competition, and Sunday was for the professionals (ie. caterers, restaurants, etc).
2016 was the last year they had the event in one day. I remember it being super packed. We arrived around 12PM and it took us almost an hour to find parking a mile away from the Boardwalk. By the time we got there, there were only a couple of tasting kits left.
It was a lot of fun to go around and sample people’s different takes on the clam chowder recipes of clam chowder, both the New England (creamy) and the Manhattan (tomato-based). This year, my siblings attended again but were much more prepared. Luckily also, it was a perfect sunny day in Santa Cruz so they were able to explore and take some photos beforehand. Below are the shots courtesy of my sister.
Finally, it was time for the tasting. Here’s how it works. You purchase a tasting kit for $10, which includes 6 taste tickets, spoon, cup, and a ballot. There are pre-selected judges that decides on the Best Boston and Best Manhattan categories. The clam chowder attendees get to decide the winners for the People’s Choice category by casting their ballot on the best Boston and Manhattan chowders. Here is the list of the 2017 Winners.
This was one of my sister’s favorites. It is a New England clam chowder that is creamy topped with some bacon and green onions.