A number of firsts will be heating up the upcoming 36th Annual Great Chowder Cook-Off, taking place on Saturday, June 10th from noon to 6:00 p.m. at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island, with the addition of a “Best Red Chowder” category at the top of the list.  

Veteran competitors, including The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar in Newport, Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical School – Culinary Arts Program of Taunton, Massachusetts and Greenwich Bay Oyster Bar in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, will be stirring things up with the red tomato-based broth originally popularized by Portuguese immigrants living in the Ocean State.  Competitors will also serve all-you-can-eat samples of chowder in the traditional “Best Clam” and “Best Seafood” categories while gunning for bragging rights and prize money, including 11 festival newcomers led by the 2016 champion of the All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off, Nancy’s Barn from Ballyliffin County Donegal, Kinsale, Ireland.  Rhode Island’s kick-off to the summer season, the event features other fun ingredients too, including the Newport Oyster Festival, live music and a variety of entertainment for all ages.

“We are excited to be introducing another chowder category to the competition. A number of people over the years have requested that we feature a red or Manhattan chowder category so this year we decided to put it on the front burner,” said Michele Maker Palmieri, Owner and President of Waterfront Productions, the parent company of Newport Waterfront Events.  “To date we have a total of 17 chowders to sample across all three categories with 11 entries coming from newbies who are looking forward to putting their recipes to the test for a shot at chowder glory.”

The original and longest running “chowdah” championship in the country features the recipes of award-winning chefs representing restaurants, catering companies, clam shacks and culinary schools.  Competing chefs lovingly prepare 100 gallons of delicious chowder and serve endless samples of their sumptuous creations to the thousands of festival attendees who also serve as judges.

Admission to the Great Chowder Cook-Off also includes a variety of entertainment, including Matunuck Oyster Farm’s Newport Oyster Festival which takes place right alongside the Cook-Off and features its famous lobster rolls and raw bar, Oyster Shucking & Slurping Contests and Beer Shucking; live music from The Ravers, Cee Cee and the Riders and The Brian Scott Band; the Stop & Shop Culinary Stage with cooking demos and educational workshops; sponsor sampling; and a number of activities for the littlenecks, including face painting, balloon creations and a shellfish dig.  Aside from the all-you-can-eat chowder, there will be a host of other food options for sale, including Saugy Inc., Ben & Jerry’s, Kettle Korn Express, Del’s Lemonade, Jerry’s Pastries, Red’s Food Truck and the Ocean Spray Food Truck, as well as full bars serving beer, wine and summer-themed cocktails.

Those who will be participating in the Great Chowder Cook-Off to-date are as follows:

Clam Category Charlestown Rathskeller Tavern, Charlestown, RI+; Charlie O’s Tavern, Narragansett, RI+; Crowther’s Restaurant, Little Compton, RI+; Greenwich Bay Oyster Bar, East Greenwich, RI*; Ocean Catch Seafood, Wakefield, RI+; Open Season Catering, Warwick, RI; and Woods Tavern, West Greenwich, RI+.

Seafood Category Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School – Culinary Program, Taunton, MA*; Brix at Newport Vineyards, Middletown, RI+; Chapel Grille, Cranston, RI+; Nancy’s Barn, Ballyliffin County Donegal, Kinsale, Ireland+; Portsmouth Publick House, Portsmouth, RI+; Red Stripe, Providence and East Greenwich, RI+; and Revolving Door, Newport, RI+.

Red Category Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School – Culinary Program, Taunton, MA*; Greenwich Bay Oyster Bar, East Greenwich, RI*; and the Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar, Newport, RI.

+ First time Great Chowder Cook-Off Competitors.

* Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School – Culinary Program, Taunton, MA and the Greenwich Bay Oyster Bar, East Greenwich, Rhode Island, are competing in both the Clam and Red categories.

Parking for the Great Chowder Cook-Off will be free but limited at Fort Adams State Park.  Attendees are encouraged to take a RIPTA bus directly to Fort Adams State Park from the Newport Marriott in downtown Newport or contact Old Port Marine and the Jamestown Ferry regarding water shuttles to Fort Adams from both downtown Newport and Jamestown. Please visit www.riwaterfrontevents.com and click on “Venue Information” for more information.

The Great Chowder Cook-Off is offering a discounted advance ticket price of $20 through Friday, June 9th with the Saturday, June 10th day-of tickets $25.  Children are admitted free if age 12 and under and accompanied by a paid adult.  To purchase tickets, please visit www.newportwaterfrontevents.com or order by phone by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.  Tickets can also be purchased as walk ups during business hours at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream at 359 Thames Street in downtown Newport.

Event partners include Stop & Shop, Hood, Polar Seltzer, Ocean Spray, RIPTA, Olivia’s Organics, Pella Windows & Doors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Heineken, Heineken Light, Strongbow Hard Apple Ciders, Tecate, Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer, Sam Adams Summer Ale, Sam Adams Rebel IPA, Miller Lite, Ketel One Vodka, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Don Julio Tequila, Naked Turtle White Rum, Polar, Matunuck Oyster Farm, Discover Newport, What’s Up Newp, Fort Adams Trust, I Heart Radio (94 HJY, Coast 93.3), WPRI 12, Fox Providence, The Rhode Show and myRITV.

For more information on the Great Chowder Cook-Off, please visit www.newportwaterfrontevents.com

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...