On Monday night, more than 200 people came out to the Columbia Yacht Club to taste through chowder made by 13 chefs and helped raise more than $4,000 for the Sea Scouts Youth Sailing Program at the 2012 Chicago Chowdah Fest. The chefs could use creative liberties in their interpretation of the soup, generally made in traditional New England (white and creamy) or Manhattan (tomato based) varieties.
A range of chefs, including Giuseppe Tentori (GT Fish & Oyster), Sarah Grueneberg (Spiaggia), Nicole Pederson (C-House), Susan Goss (West Town Tavern), Mark Steuer (The Bedford), Jeffrey Hedin (Leopold) and private chef Julius Russell, served cup after cup of various chowder. Some followed traditional lines (like New England Seafood Company and Benny's Chop House, the latter doing a Manhattan style), while others, like Nana chef Guy Meikle got clever and served a smoked pork and oyster pozole.
At the end of the night, two winners were announced. One was chosen by a panel of judges—chef Gale Gand, Soup & Bread founder Martha Bayne and Eater Chicago editor Ari Bendersky—while the other was the fan favorite. GT Fish & Oyster's Giuseppe Tentori took the judge's favorite with the chowder he serves at the restaurant; he walked away with a $250 gift certificate from Fortune Fish Company, which he said he'd share with his team. Grueneberg's dungeness crab-based chowder took second while Julius Russell took the third place spot with his Chilean-seafood chowder with black truffle croutons.
Russell was named the fan favorite with chef Dan Marquis (Quay) filling in the second-place spot in that category with a smoked whitefish chowder with andouille sausage and tobiko caviar.