ALPENA - People in northeast Michigan will have the opportunity to show off their chowder cooking skills. Whether it be from a secret recipe or taken from the Internet, local chefs can compete in the Alpena Chowder Cookoff on Oct.11.
The event, which is sponsored by Neiman's Family Market and Huron Distributing and hosted by the Alpena Downtown Development Authority, also will include wine and Michigan beer tasting. The highlight of the event, however, will be the chowder and the people who cooked it.
There will be two categories of chefs, one that will include local businesses and the other will be comprised of residents. DDA Executive Director Lesslee Dort said registration for participating is under way for $25. She said besides being a great opportunity for the cooks to compete against one another, also is an event where people can join in the fun for $10 and sample the chowders, beer and wine.
"It is a way to encourage the restaurants and foodies in the community to come together to compete for the best chowder in the five county area," Dort said. "It will be held at Culligan Plaza, there will be a tent set up and there will be some patio heaters up to keep people warm on what could be a beautiful, crisp October day. It should be a whole lot of fun."
Participants can enter any type of chowder they want, but must provide three gallons because there should be enough for 200 people to sample two-ounce servings. Dort said the chowder can't be cooked at the plaza and must be prepared before hand.
Dort said restaurants can use their own kitchens to prepare their entries, but residents may have to find a kitchen that is cleared by the health department.
"Individuals will have to find a certified kitchen, but there are many generous churches that are willing to allow folks to use their facilities in order to make the chowder," Dort said. "We looked at allowing the cooking at the plaza, but there was going to be too many factors that just didn't make it feasible."
The DDA hopes there is competition in the weeks leading up to the cookoff. Dort said it would be nice if fire or police departments, banks or organizations would hold preliminary chowder contests with the winner entering into the cookoff. She said that could lead to some lighhearted ribbing.
"I just think that would be neat if this started spinoffs of the competition with the winners joining us on Oct. 11," Dort said. "We really want this to be a community event and something people will be looking forward to as it nears."
The DDA went with chowder as the feature food because of the many varieties there are. Dort said she wanted to start simple and maybe the contest could be expanded in the future.
"We will learn from this and then maybe we can incorporate other things like chili or ribs," Dort said. "This has the potential to grow in many different directions."
For more information or to register visit www.alpenadowntown.com or call 356-6422.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.