By Chris S. – Executive Chef, Stamford Marriott

Every October for the last two years my sous chefs and I have been participating in the annual New England ChowdaFest. When the economy tanked in 2008, Jim Keenan a Maine native, created the ChowdaFest competition along a few of his chef friends as a cheap way to help promote their struggling restaurants and help raise money for Charities. Years later, with the support of close to 40 sponsors including Stop and Shop, Farmers Cow, AAA, and Lowes. With every year bigger than the last, this  year had close to 10,000 attendees and in 2015 raised enough money to fund over 400,000 meals.

There are three categories to compete in New England Clam Chowder, Creative Chowder and Soup/Bisque. There is a cap for participants to enter into the category of your choice so first come, first serve. The Stamford Marriott has competed for the last two years in the soup/bisque category.
Last year, our soup was a White Bean-Banana Pepper Bisque with a cilantro-avocado crema. We got mentioned and the recipe seemed to go over well but no medal was taken home. This past October, we took home the Bronze Medal with our Spiced Chocolate Bisque. The idea of chocolate was a home run by itself as nobody was expecting chocolate in a chowder competition. The spice of fresh ginger, star anise, cinnamon, orange peel and a touch of coffee brings it to a whole new level. People were coming up and purchasing quarts to take home.

The recipe is attached and is very delicate given the fresh eggs that need to be tempered and the chocolate of course. Attached is the picture of the trophy that gets presented to the winners and is created using only items found on the beach utilizing sea shells and drift wood.

This is a really cool event, it’s outside, there’s thousands of people, great way to get your name out there and meet people in the business. It’s open to anyone and everyone, the reigning champion for the New England Clam Chowder is Pike Place Chowder out of Seattle Washington. I would recommend getting involved. We always fun and we always meet new people. And we get to stuff ourselves with Chowda!!

Spiced Chocolate Bisque…..

  • 125 ml water
  • 125 ml whole milk
  • 110 g butter
  • pinch salt
  • large pinch sugar
  • 150 g flour
  • 3 x eggs
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Cinnamon sugar for coating
  • 500 ml heavy cream
  • 200 ml whole milk
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 x vanilla bean, split
  • 1 x star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 5 g cocoa powder
  • 3 g instant coffee powder
  • 6 x egg yolks
  • 135 g dark chocolate, chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, star anise, cinnamon, orange zest and fresh ginger. Bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Return the mixture to a boil and add the cocoa powder and instant coffee powder. Whisk well.

Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and temper the milk mixture into them while whisking. Return this mixture to the sauce pan and cook for a couple of minutes while constantly stirring until lightly thickens.

Place the finely chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Place a fine sieve over the bowl and pour the custard over the chocolate. Mix until all the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth cream.

Can be served warm, room temperature or cold. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It will thicken when it cools.

ChowdaFest 2016
Sherwood State Park
Westport, CT



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s