Best of the West – Chowderfest!

“Southern California Seafood goes ROGUE in the Ultimate Seafood Challenge” Local taste and local talent showcased the “Best of the West – Chowderfest” at the Aquarium of the Pacific this last weekend.

Aquarium of the Pacific

I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, than hanging out with my favorite foodie friends at the beach and eating chowder made by great local chefs, using fresh local ingredients!

We had such a good time! Sometimes I think I should pinch myself. It’s hard to believe my life is so richly blessed with these opportunities. Many thanks to The Aquarium Of The Pacific, Seafood for the Future, Edible Westside, The Sustainable Kitchen, Weiser Farms, Savor Magazine and all the other sponsors for a fun event. Here was the lineup for the day!

Chowderfest lineup!

When we arrived, things were just getting started. The Chefs were putting out there samples and the tables were finishing getting decorated. Each Chef was required to use fresh LOCAL ingredients in their dish. Not only were the Chefs and their creations displayed on the boards at each station, but so were the fishermen/farms involved in supplying the seafood and the seafood was highlighted as well!

Chowder Fest Chef Display

There was a Judges Choice Winner and the Peoples Choice winners. There were cooking demonstrations by Savor Magazine and of course, the samples!

Roe's Chowder


Chowder Samples


My Favorite!



Our little group was evenly between the Mussel Chowdah from Gladstones Long Beach and Kellet’s Whelk Chowder with smoked Potatoes from SIP Lounge at the Renaissance in Long Beach. My personal favorite was Chef Michael’s Kellet’s Whelk. It has so many layers of flavor and the fried leeks on top were outstanding!


So who won? “Mussel Chowdah” created by Chef Pete Lehmar from Gladstones in Long Beach, using Mussels from Carlsbad Aquafarms won BOTH the Judges Choice AND Peoples Choice Award! It was tasty chowder, or should I say “Chowdah!”

Mussel Chowdah

Here was their display!


“Scott Breneman’s Sablefish Curry” created by Chef Paul Buchanan of Primal Alchemy Events and Catering Kitchen, using Sablefish from West Caught Fish Company won Second Place in the Peoples Choice. They had pumpkin in their Curry! It was an interesting twist.

Primal Alchemy


And finally, tied for Third Place, was “California Dungeness Crab Chowder” by Chef Robin Higas from Market Broiler and (my favorite) “Kellets Whelk with Smoked Potatoes” by Chef Michael Poompan from SIP Lounge in Long Beach, with the Whelk provided by Fisherman Stephanie Mutz!

It was a delicious day! This is what our table looked like when we were done…
All gone!

I hope Aquarium of the Pacific does this next year. It was a great event and a great way to highlight local and sustainable seafood!

Thanks everyone! On to the next adventure! 😉

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