With nine trophies for making the best chowder in a Greenport now under his belt, Claudio’s executive chef Brian Kavanagh attributes his repeated success to the belief that it’s silly to fix what isn’t broken.
“Consistency is the thing,” he said after taking first place in the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation’s chowder festival, held for the first time outside of the organization annual fall maritime festival.
“When you have something good, don’t change it,” Mr. Kavanagh added. “I’ve been making this chowder for 23 years.”
But change might have been what attracted more than 1,000 people, a record by all accounts, to the chowder festival on Sunday. Once a crowd favorite of the maritime festival, the fundraiser was on hiatus after the seaport museum scratched it in 2013. It was reborn as its own event this year and held in early summer. And the winner was decided by popular vote instead of by a panel of chefs.
“We asked for sun and we got it. It’s well beyond our expectations,” said Keturah Hurst, special events coordinator for the East End Seaport Museum. “Everyone is in heaven with the chowders they have tasted.”
She said participants and chefs both missed the annual competition, which she said was a raging success in 2014.
“Everyone thinks they have the best chowder,” she said. “That’s the reality of living in a seaport town.”
While perennial favorite Claudio’s bested 13 other East End eateries to take home the clam trophy, newcomer First and South was first runner-up.
Tom Schaudel’s aLure took first place in the “other” chowder competition. His new Aquebogue venture, “The Petulant Wino,” took second.
Noah’s, SALT, CJ’s American Grill, The Frisky Oyster, Front Street Station, aMano, Vino N’Vittles, Rhumbline, Six Three One, The Blue Inn, and San Simeon by the Sound also participated.
While most chowder lovers preferred the Claudio’s recipe, the most traditional chowder of the bunch, some preferred new takes on seafood soups, like the brothier variety offered by Vino N’Vittles.
“The creamiest was Claudio’s, but the best was Vino N’Vittles,” said festivalgoer Jerry Yllanes of St. James. “That’s how I like it.”
All proceeds from the event benefit the East End Seaport Museum.