Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oceanwise Chowder Chowdown at the Vancouver Aquarium

The Leggy Redhead went to this event last year and raved about it. Delicious chowder. Beer Pairings. Trolly ride to and from the Aquarium.
So when tickets went on sale for this year's Chowder Chowder, she circulated and link and encouraged her "food enthusiast" friends and family to buy tickets and come along.
Chowder Chowdown is a friendly competition featuring some of BC's best Ocean Wise chefs battling it out to become the Chowder Chowdown Champion. Guest sample chowders, each paired with a different beer. People vote for their favourite for the People's Choice Award, while a panel of judges determine the night's winner.

Essentially this is a uber cool pre-holiday season event, where you can wander around the Vancouver Aquarium after hours (even outside with the dolphins and whales), get tipsy on all-you-can-drink beer, and fill up on 12 stations of gourmet (and Ocean Wise sustainably approved) seafood chowders.

The line-up of local Ocean Wise chefs contending for the winning title of Vancouver Aquarium’s 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion Vancouver included:
  • Chefs Alessandro Vianello and Michael Carter| Street Meet
  • Chef Dana Hauser| Herons - The Fairmont Waterfront
  • Chef Tom Lee | Edible Canada at the Market
  • Chef Todd Bright| Wild Rice 
  • Chef Alex Tung | Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria 
  • Chef Troung Minh Xong| Kamei Royale Japanese Restaurant
  • Chef Frank Gort | Showcase Restaurant and Bar - Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle
  • Chef Nathan Tower| Savoury Chef Foods
  • Chef Chris Whittaker| Forage - Listel Hotel
  • Chef Eric Pless| Coast Restaurant 
  • Chef Warren Mercier| Vancouver Aquarium
  • Chef Derek Bendig| Hotel Eldorado
I enjoy Chowder but I'm not the world's biggest Chowder fanatic. This was an interesting event that showed off the featured chef's creativity. Chowder is a versatile soup and they reinterpreted it in many ways. There were versions that were thick and chunky with very little broth, there were chowders that were super creamy, there were chowders with crazy toppings and garnishes, there were some vegetable based chowders. These chowders were enhanced and twisted in many ways: foam, miso, root vegetable and more. But man o man, chowder is filling. I wish that I only ate half servings from every station. By the end of the night, in combination with all of the beer pairings, I was gut-busting full (and tipsy).

Chef Whittaker (from new restaurant Forage) took home the Best Chowder Award from the judges, and also won over the tastebuds of the crowd, going home with the People's Choice award. Whittaker's winning Creamy Spot Prawn Chowder with Poached Egg and Smoky Chiccharon (crispy fried pork rind) white wine, leeks, and bacon. This was a knock out dish- full of rich, multi-dimensional flavours- and the poached egg with it's o-so-slightly runny yolk. 

I loved the pageantry, presentation from Kamei Royal who served up delicious bowls of Lobster Miso Chowder.

Other favourites were the bold, full-bodied Seafood Chowder from Hotel Eldorado from Kelowna (they served a baked oyster roll on the side!)

and the frothy light Roast Powell River Sturgeon Chowder from Herons West Coast Kitchen. The whole event was a whirlwind but I managed to snap shots of all the chowders. Great event!!!!
Cotto Dungeness Crab Cioppino from Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria

Octopus and Corn Chowder from Savoury Chef Foods

Citrus Soy Seafood Chowder from Vancouver Aquarium

Dungeness Crab and Honey Mussel Chowder from Show Case Restaurant and Bar
Salt Spring Island Mussel & Pulled Pork Chowder from Edible Canada at the Market
Local Shores Dungeness Crab & Clam Chowder from Coast Restaurant (yes, that's a crab cake in there!)
Tea Smoked Arctic Char & Szechuan Bacon Chowder from Wild Rice

Sablefish & Slowroasted Pork Belly Chowder from Street Meet (the food truck)

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