Clam Chowder Cook-Off

Boardwalk Photo

Calling All Chefs for the Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off

SANTA CRUZ, CA (January 3, 2019) – The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is calling all chefs for the 38th annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off. The popular fundraiser for Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation Department is a two-day event, with amateur chefs competing on Saturday, February 23 and professional chefs on Sunday, February 24, 2019.  
Judges will determine the best Manhattan and Boston Clam Chowders in Amateur and Professional categories.  The public will weigh in on awards for People’s Choice and Most Tasted Clam Chowders. Prizes include airline tickets, cash, wall plaques, and bragging rights.
The event attracts competitors from all over Northern California including serious professionals like former “Top Chef” competitor Michael Midgley plus families and friends with favorite family recipes who enjoy competing in the seaside atmosphere.
The deadline for chefs to register for the “rain or shine” Clam Chowder Cook-Off is February 4, 2019. The entry fee is $50, or $50 for professionals (restaurants, caterers, and food services). For more information, entry forms, and rules please visit  
All proceeds from the Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off benefit the City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department. Last year the event attracted 70 entries and thousands of chowder fans, bringing in $100,000.00 for City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department programs. The popular event has raised over $1,489,500 for Santa Cruz Parks & Rec since it started in 1981.

Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle, a popular Monterey diner featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, won the Best Professional Boston division last year. Their secret?  “The main ingredient in our clam chowder is love,” said Loulou’s chef Gigi Davis.  

Midgley’s Public House in Stockton was the judges’ choice for Best Professional Manhattan. Celebrity Chef Michael Midgley is best known for his appearances on Bravo TV’s Top Chef and Food Network’s Cut Throat Kitchen. Midgley has competed in the Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and the Santa Cruz Chili Cook-Off for the past few years, and typically places near the top.  “I’ve visited Santa Cruz since I was a kid. I started cooking clam chowder and chili to start a new family tradition,” Midgley said. “We’ve won 7 plaques in 4 years and plan to keep crushing it!”

Admission to the “rain or shine” Clam Chowder Cook-Off is free; Tasting Kits are $10 for 6 samples. Preparation starts at 10am, cooking at 11am, public tasting is from 1pm - 3pm on both days. Winners will be announced at 4pm each day.

Boardwalk rides hours are 11am to 6pm on both days of the event, weather permitting. The Casino Arcade and Neptune’s Kingdom will also be open.

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