Chowdafest celebrates 10 years with new sweepstakes
DARIEN — Bryan Malcarney, chef and owner of Rory’s Restaurant in Darien, has come close to winning Chowdafest with his clam chowder. He’s placed second and third, even making it to the Chowdafest Hall of Fame because he has been competing for so long.
But this year’s Chowdafest — which features chowder, soup and bisques from accomplished chefs and restaurants from Connecticut, New England and across the country — will be different for Malcarney, as he will compete with the lobster bisque he regularly serves at his restaurant.
“I’m not nervous at all about our bisque,” Malcarney said. “It’s excellent, so I don’t have any doubt we’ll do just fine. I’m happy to showcase any of my soups ’cause I think they’re all great. Our bisque is a really nice, creamy bisque with a nice hint of that sweetness of lobster and a little sherry. The one thing I think will make its stand out is it’s gluten-free.”
Malcarney isn’t the only one experiencing changes in this year.
After being named the top event in New England last fall by Yankee Magazine, Chowdafest is celebrating 10 years. A still-growing event, the organizers have added a “Predict the Winner” sweepstakes to enhance the fun.
For information on this year’s Chowdafest, visit chowdafest.org.
Through Aug. 31, people can go online to the Chowdafest website to vote for their favorite restaurant in Chowdafest’s five categories. Each vote earns the person a chance to win a “Stay & Slurp” hotel and ticket package. A winner will be randomly chosen Sept. 1 and given a free Saturday night stay at the official hotel of Chowdafest, Hotel Zero Degrees in Norwalk. They will also receive two adult tickets to Chowdafest Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
The sweepstakes, sponsored by Mohegan Sun, is one of several ways Jim Keenan, founder and chairman of Chowdafest, is upping the game for his 10th year running the soup competition.
“We’re doing lots of things, but it’s one thing that’s going on right now,” he said of the sweepstakes. “It’s a big deal. We got named top event in New England last fall by Yankee Magazine, so we got to make it bigger and better.”
To promote the event, Chowdafest officials will set up a Chowda Cafe at the Big E state fair in Massachusetts that starts Sept. 15.
Keenan has plans to add new food samples, as well as discount packages for people traveling to the festival from out of town. Furthermore, there will be a “Canine Cafe” at the event to make it more pet friendly.
The fest, which features restaurants from all across New England, as well as Seattle, has grown to attract “foodies” from all over, a far cry from its early days being run out of a church in Westport.
“It’s been pretty cool to watch the event grow,” Malcarney said. “It’s been neat to be there for all of it and to be a part of that.”