Tag Archives: Connecticut Food Bank

Biggest Turn Out EVER @ Stamford Chili Cook-off!

5 Nov

Please check our Facebook Page for a photo gallery.

What makes up a great chili?  Beans, peppers, onions, spices, veggies, beef, or even venison?  Sure, we all have our likes and dislikes in this perfect fall and winter dish, but at the Sixth Annual Stamford Chili Cook-off, over 300 hungry visitors had the final say.

Held on Sunday, 11/3, the Stamford Chili Cook-off had bigger digs, usually held at the Stamford Unitarian Universalist Church.  This year it was part of the Touch a Truck event at Stamford Museum & Nature Center.  Organized by Joe Gonzalez, the contest was an amazing hit, bringing people in from all over to vote in their favorite chili.  By the end of the day, there were hundreds of votes and lots of money raised for the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.  We’re talking about just around $1,700 raised as well as countless bags of groceries to help feed the hungry.

The competition was definitely heated (except for Joey Kuntz’s dessert chili which was served up cold), but all the contestants went around, talked with each other, and tasted each other’s chili.  This was a great event and there was some awesome chili.  We look forward to the 7th Annual Chili Cook-off next year…and so should you!

Here are the winners:

1st: The Benzaken’s “Three Bird Chili” – (Alain and daughters Casey and Jordan)
2nd: Wakeman Town Farm –Chipotle Veggie Chili with Cornbread
3rd: Rama Kumanduri and Cristina Romero –”Chili con Pasion”

And here is the description of each chili:

A) The Benzakens – “Three Bird Chili” – Inspired by the Thanksgiving season, former champs Casey and Jordan have created a special chili that includes smoked duck, chicken and turkey. A spicy blend that includes chipotle peppers and white beans, this chili will make your senses soar high, even though none of these birds can actually fly. Well…maybe the ducks. In any case, stop by our table and enjoy our unique chili!

B) Joe Kuntz – From the “transplanted Texan gone crazy”, we have a Vegetarian dessert chili! No meat, some sweet, and some heat! Served on corn tortillas.

C) Brian Cronin – “24 Hour East River Couch Chili” – The East River has often been referred to by the NYC Police and Fire Rescue teams as “Deep, Dark and Dangerous”. I just added Delicious to that identity, and you now have my chili! Simmered for a minimum of 24 hours with no less than 16 ingredients. Fresh white corn and a secret smoke component are the standouts in this Deep, Dark, Dangerous and Delicious three meat batch. Brother Sean has concocted his rich cornbread to accompany this tummy bath to soothe any heat that may linger too long.

D) Wakeman Town Farm – “Chipotle Veggie Chili With Cornbread” – This chili is made from organic vegetables harvested from Wakeman Town Farm in Westport as well as Sport Hill Farm in Easton and several other Fairfield County farms. Made with an all vegetable stock, homemade smoked jalapeno, organic veggies and topped with a cilantro cornbread. It will have a mildly smoky flavor with a slight spicy kick. Our recipe will be available to take home!

E) Robin Skidmore – “Mighty Bruin Tex-Mex” – Take a walk on the “Wild Side” with this rare chance to try wild bear – a rich red meat much like beef, all flavor, no gamey edge. You’ll be amazed how delicious it is! But while bear is the heart of this chili, the Mexican spices are its soul. Hot peppers are paired off with fresh cilantro and Mexican oregano for a flavorful slow burn that will have your taste buds begging for another spoonful!

F) Bill and Jean Marie Warncke – “Buffalo Bill’s Southwest GRILLED Chili” – This year we have a new take on a chili cook-off classic! Buffalo Bill has taken his formula of savory meats, peppers and spices to the next level by incorporating grilled ingredients sure to win over even the toughest chili judge! A little bit of smoky-ness, a little bit of heat and a lot of flavor is packed into every bite!

G) Chef Hunter Zampa (competed on Rachael vs. Guy) – Venison Chili with a unique twist of Asian inspired flavors sure to warm your heart and soul!

H) Shawn Carlson – Do you feel like a Sam Adams? Do you love chili? Who does not love bacon? Well come one, come all, and enjoy…”Sam Adams Cowboy Beef and Bacon Lager Chili”! Beans, beef, peppers, spices, Sam Adams, and BACON!!!!! Enjoy, and vote for the Cowboy!

I) It’s Getting Chili In Here! – HEAT and SWEET! Long, slow simmered meat, spices, tomatoes and 3 chile base with a secret ingredient for a flavorful finale!

J) Stamford HS Marching Band – “Rancher’s Spicy Pinto Bean and Chicken Chili” – Pinto beans, chicken, onion, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, chili powder, salt, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

K) Bold for the Gold – Dan Tewes and his daughter Sarah make a chili that is bold and spicy, rich in beef with fresh veggies. The chili up front heat is not overpowering, which allows you to enjoy all the flavors. However, the heat builds as you eat more and is best consumed with a cold beverage of choice!

L) Rama Kumanduri and Cristina Romero– “Chile con Pasión” – A unique balance of fresh and dry Chiles (roasted and smoked, hot and flavorful) combined with peppers and spices from around the world to pleasure your palate!

5th Chowdafest Moves to Webster Bank Arena and Plans to Become Biggest Food Event in Northeast

10 Jan

Chowdafest Logo

The winners and our recap is in!

What started as a tiny event that featured some local restaurants’ soups and chowders with just 400 people attending, soon turned into an event at Bedford Middle School that featured many different CT restaurants and had about 5,000 people attend.  That’s some big growth, especially when you consider that the attendance for last year’s event was 40% more than Chowdafest 3.  Put in different terms, there were 600 gallons of chowder and soup served with almost 50% more money raised for the Connecticut Food Bank from the proceeds.  Believe it or not, Chowdafest 4 (2012) was so well attended that they had to turn 1,000 people away because of being over-capacity and parking limitations.

Chowda Chick from Rory's in Darien at Chowdafest IV

Chowda Chick from Rory’s in Darien at Chowdafest IV

Well, that won’t be an issue this year!  Chowdafest 5 will be held at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on February 3 (SOUP’er Bowl Sunday), the holiest day of the year for football lovers but now also for chowder lovers.  Don’t worry, though, it will be going on from 11 am to 4 pm, so there will be plenty of time to get your party ready or head back to the house/bar before the game begins.  Tickets are just $10 for adults, $5 for kids 6-12, and free for kids aged five or younger.  Spoons and a voting card will be provided.  Just bring your entrance fee, a healthy (or unhealthy) appetite, and some non-perishable food donations to help support the Connecticut Food Bank.  

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Chowdafest IV 2012, Bigger and Badder than Ever! Westport, CT

6 Feb

Chowdafest IV! Look at those chowdaphiles!

We pulled up to Bedford Middle School then drove 20 miles down the road (my lesson in school today was on hyperbole) and found a nice cozy spot to park.  As we walked into the school, we knew this was huge, more ginormous than last year.  Yeah, this was gonna rock in a major way.  Donations were dropped off and tickets were purchased and we threw ourselves into line.

Rory's takes home some chowda gold this year!

Wow, what a turn out!  Jim Keenan, Chief Chowda Head, said that there were about 2,400 visitors, which is 40% more than last year.  Damn!  Even more mind boggling are the food stats:  600 gallons of chowder and soup; 29 different soups and chowders.  More awesome?  Sure, we’ll top that.  40-50% more money was raised this year for the Connecticut Food Bank.  And…mark your calendars (we just did, too) for February 2, 2013:  Chowdafest V!  Ahh humminah humminah!

29 soups are a helluva lot to write about, so we’ll give you the winners and our combined Nom ratings for our highest scoring soups.  Remember the Nom system, right people?

Classic New England Clam Chowder Winners

1) Mansion Clam House

2) Rory’s

3) O’Neill’s

Soup/Bisque Winners

Pietro Scotti of DaPietro's has some soup on!

1) Crab Shell: NY Giant Lobster Bisque

2) Southport Brewing Company: Sausage, Egg & Cheese Sandwich Soup

3) Liquid Lunch: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Creative Chowder Winners

1) The Ginger Man: Sweet Potato Clam Chowder

2) Crab Shell: New England Patriot Crab Chowder

3) Dunvilles: Louisiana Seafood Chowder

Critic’s Choice Awards (Chefs voted on each other’s soups/chowders)

Robert Troilo dishes out his Oyster & Pork Belly Chowder

1) The Ginger Man: Sweet Potato Clam Chowder

2) Cactus Rose Cantina: Corn & Poblano Chowder

3) Tavern on Main: Classic NE Clam Chowder

OmNomCT’s Top 5 Nom Rating Average

1) Tie between The Ginger Man: Sweet Potato Clam Chowder and Crab Shell: NY Giant Lobster Bisque (4.25 Noms)

2) Crab Shell: New England Patriot Crab Chowder (4 Noms)

3) Blue Lemon: Mexican Chicken Soup (4 Noms)

4) Mansion Clam House NE Clam Chowder (4 Noms)

5) Rory’s NE Clam Chowder (4 Noms)

Special thanks to Jim Keenan for the info before, during, and after Chowdafest.  We love what you do…keep doing it and doing it more awesome each year.  See everybody at Chilifest!

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