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Judging Chowderfest 2010

So I’ve agreed to be a judge for the annual Chowderfest in Troy, which takes place this Saturday.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever learn. You see, dear readers, I’ve been to the rodeo before.

My first experience at judging a food competition was an apple pie baking contest a number of years ago. Who knew little old ladies had such a mean streak?

But, I’m confident the professionals competing in the Chowderfest will be more gracious losers than the pie bakers were.

The annual Chowderfest festival gets under way at 11 a.m. on Saturday downtown in the River Street Marina District, just north of the Green Island Bridge. More than 20 local restaurants will compete for the title of Best Local Chowder in various categories.

Besides the official judging by a team composed of Steve Barnes, Sarah Firesen, Mayor Harry J. Tutunjian and yours truly, there will be a chance for the public to participate in the People’s Choice judging.

It works like this: You can buy as many sample tickets at $1 apiece as you wish. Use the tickets to purchase a 3-oz. cup of chowder. Every five tickets you purchase entitle you to one voting ticket. After you’ve sampled all that you can, drop your votes in the marked bucket at your favorite team’s booth.

Each competing team will have 30 gallons of its chowder to dish out so there may be plenty to go around, but there’s no guarantee.

Besides the chowder, there will be live music from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring Simple Theory, the bluegrass band Who Nelly and the Greyhounds.

Official judging begins at noon. People’s Choice judging will run to 3:30 p.m. (or whenever the chowder runs out). Besides the Judges’ Choice for best chowder and the People’s Choice, there are special categories: Best Seafood, Best Vegetarian and Most Original chowders.

The awards will be announced at 4 p.m.

Some of Chowderfest’s proceeds will benefit community causes like the Troy Boys and Girls Club, whose mission is to provide young people with a safe environment and positive programs to encourage their moral, intellectural, social and physical development.

The creativity of the chefs involved is evident in the chowders they’re fielding. Here are this year’s competitors, followed by their promised entries:

Albany Pump Station (Loaded Yukon Gold Potato Chowder with Smoked Woodland Ham); Brown’s Brewing Co. (Cheesy Porter Sausage Chowder and Crawfish and Chicken Curried Chowder); Delectabulls Deli (Loaded Baked Potato Chowder); Jose Malone’s (Shrimp and Roasted Corn Chowder with Chipotle Applewood Smoked Bacon and Capital District Community Gardens’ French Fingerling Potatoes); McGrievey’s (Classic New England Clam Chowder); RPI (Saffron Lobster and Corn Chowder with Drunken Crab and Cornbread Croutons); Ryan’s Wake (New England Clam Chowder with Roasted Garlic); Sterup Square’s Potter’s Tavern (Lobster Bisque).

Terminal Tavern (Three Little Pigs Chowder); Terra Cafe (Cheesy Potato Chowder); Yanni’s Too Restaurant (Louisiana Gulf Coast Chowder and Smoked Portobello Mushroom Chowder); Park Pub (Seafood Chowder and Thanksgiving Dinner Chowder); Spilln’ The Beans (Spanish Seafood Chowder and Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder); the Brown Derby (Boston Clam Chowder and Fort Lauderdale Boat Chowder); Ted’s Fish Fry (Manhattan Clam Chowder and New England Clam Chowder); the Judge’s Inn (Pastrami Reuben Chowder and Surf ’n’ Turf Chowder); Illium Cafe (Pumpkin and Parsnip Chowder Topped with Apple and Thyme Bread Pudding with a Fig Reduction); Mallozzi’s Italian Community Center (Autumn Pear Chowder); Arnet’s on Broadway (Turkey Dumpling Chowder and a Seafood Bisque); Uncle Ricky’s Bagel Haven (New England Clam Chowder).

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October 14, 2010
3:09 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Friend and former colleague Sheila Nason sent this comment:
I've never judged a food contest, but in a mistaken moment, I once agreed to judge a beauty contest at the Lake George Winter Carnival. As the day approached, I
panicked over hair, clothes, etc. I just knew people were going to look at me, find me inadequate, and say, "Who is she to be judging a beauty contest?"

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