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Chowder Cook-off 2018
A festival celebrating chowder & St. Patrick's Day
March 19, 2018

lams and other seafood showed up in many of the entries but it was a potato chowder that won the Oriental Women’s Club Chowder Cookoff, which fell on St. Patrick’s Day this year. When the ballots were counted, the top vote-getter was Harbourside Garden Center’s Southwestern Spicy Potato Cheese Chowder.

Rachel Tipton won the first time she entered the Chowder CookOff. “I can’t believe this. I’m not a cook. I don’t cook.” The recipe for Southwestern Spicy Potato Cheese Chowder was her mother’s, she said, but she tweaked it a little.

Garris Painting & Home Services came in second – a very, very close second. Their Rockfish chowder was just one vote shy of Harbourside’s entry, making it the closest finish in memory. Saturday was the first time either of the top two finishers had taken part in OWC’s chowder contest, which this year sold 300 tickets.

Just one vote behind Harbourside Garden Center, was Garris Painting & Home Services, here welcoming Rachel to the stage to receive her People’s Choice Award.
Chowder tasters wandered from crock pots to gas cookers at the OWC’ Chowder Cookoff Saturday. (It was also St. Patrick’‘s Day which upped the green attire quotient.)

Honors for Best Decorated Entry went to Ginger Barnett for her St Pat’s-inspired table. With a friend in full leprauchaun green regalia, she served up cups of corned beef and cabbage chowder. OWC presented her a pendant made by Marguerite Garrett.

Ginger Barnett’s entry was a chowderized version of corn beef and cabbage.
As chowder voters taste-tested the 10 chowders, Harbor Sounds performed bluegrass and (greener) Celtic tunes .
Shamrocks were in abundance.
Nelda Coats’ green carnations were part of the presentation of Resource Financial Services’ corn and bacon chowder .

Those attending could sample chowders from 10 teams. Four of the chowders were variations of clam chowder.

People’s Choice
Rachel Tipton, Harborside Garden Company … Southwestern spicy potato cheese

Just 1 vote behind 1st place
Garris Painting & Home Services … Rock fish

Best St. Patrick’s Day Decoration
Ginger Barnett … Corned beef chowder, shot of Guinness as a bribe.

First Citizens Bank … Ol’ Timey clam
Toucan Grill … A traditional clam served at Toucan Grill
NC Coastal Heritage Association … DownEast rack-of-the-eye clam
Oriental Piggly Wiggly … An old family recipe clam
Inland Waterway Provision Co … Conch, as cooked by Oriental Food Initiative
Ralf Heit / Lost Colony … Cajun shrimp
Resource Financial Services … Corn and bacon

Oriental’s Piglet made its first appearance at the chowder cook-off. They offered an old family recipe, which probably included at least one ingredient derived from a pig, bacon being a common ingredient in many family recipes.


Oriental realtor, Janice Cox , was ready to determine how good First Citizens bankers were in a chowder kitchen.
Judging a chowder is a process.
Veteran chef, Chris Doty, and Marie Inkenbrandt of the Oriental Food Initiative. OFI brought a tomato based conch chowder to the cookoff.
Wearing green, right down to the nail polish.
A splash of red in the sea of green.


“You can have your chowder, I’ll take a cookie any day.”
Most got the memo … wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.


Clam chowders outnumbered other entries, but Harborside Garden Center in Stonewall garnered the most votes for their Southwestern Spicy Potato Cheese Chowder. Oriental’s Tom Lathrop sampled the spicy concoction soon after the crock pots and cookers were opened.

Some artisitic liberties _ and a bit of green ink -transforms the image of Oriental fisherman, Keith Bruno om a donation jar for the NC Coastal Heritage Association. Keith is the organization’s new president.
Dixie and Asa Gatlin on fiddler and bass. They are half of Harbor Sounds.
Dick Osmun, guitar, and Paul Sykes, banjo.


Michael Fulcher, from Stacey, the secretary/treasurer of the NC Coastal Heritage Association, provided rack-of-the-eye guidance for the association’s chowder. Translated, he provided the list of ingredients, not an actual blueprint or recipe.
The taste comes first.
Judging the taste, next.
Chowder judging.
Does one see green with green rimed glasses?


Fay Bond does the taste test while Judi Heit looks on.
Ralf Heit and Darrell Wiard cooked up what they called Lost Colony chowder, They served it with a side of story involving a Virginia Dare Cajun recipe tucked in a bottle found in the Pamlico Sound.
Judging as a couple. Did they reach the same conclusion?
Commissioner David White at the dessert commissary.
The winning chef, Rachel Tipton, exhibits a look of surprise in motion as she makes her way to the stage.
Southwestern Spicy Potato Chowder brought home the bacon, and a golden clam pendant.

Posted Monday March 19, 2018 by Ben Casey

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