This year 30 restaurants participated Chowdafest at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk.
Though outdoor events are always a gamble, Sunday yielded was a mild, sunny afternoon, and the backdrop of boardwalk, beach and Norwalk Islands provided the perfect backdrop for the crowds to enjoy.
Greenwich Avenue staple, Gingerman, which also has a location in Norwalk had a busy tent at Chowdafest.
Chef Mike Bogacz said that what sets his recipe apart from the competition are unique ingredients including sweet potatoes and the herbs. No doubt, he’s done something right because Gingerman has won the creative chowder category five years in a row!
The folks from LobsterCraft whose truck is a bi-weekly presence in Greenwich selling hot buttered lobster rolls on Thursdays from the lot at 500 West Putnam Ave and Fridays outside Greenwich Library.
Trond Fletcher said it’s also possible to book his truck for private parties, special occasions and corporate events.
This year, instead of multiple categories, guests were each provided a simplified ballot to vote from.
In addition to craft beer makers, the chowder chefs’ tents were flanked by those of Farmer’s Cow who were scooping up mini blueberry ice cream cones, and Pepperidge Farm’s giant goldfish mascot who made a splash at is own tent.
Patrons who bought their tickets online ahead of the event received an email suggesting they bring along muffin tins to place their numbered paper cups of chowder samples.
Shout out to Jim Keenen for that clever idea, though at least one other taster had a vertical solution, which was to finish each sample, save the cup and stack the next one on top.
This year, the event’s beneficiary was Norwalk-based Community Plates , a non-profit committed to ending American food insecurity in America by transferring fresh, usable food that is otherwise been thrown away from restaurants, markets and other food industry sources to food-insecure families. The group uses an app that volunteer food runners can access to sign up for a route.
Community Plates Alison Sherman said runners can make a big difference if they half just a half an hour to spare. “Often the rescued food — say, bread from a local bakery — can be collected and dropped off on the other side of town at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen,” Sherman said, adding that unlike a food bank which mainly store and distribute canned food, Community Plates rescues perishable food including fruit and vegetables.
“The app makes volunteering very simple,” said Tom Hauser, the local site director of Community plates. “It makes it possible for our organization to function with a very limited staff.” Hauser said organization would love to have more Greenwich volunteer food runners and that they offer a “buddy run” option for new volunteers who’s like to do a ride along with an experienced volunteer the first time.
Hauser suggested that new volunteer food runners should go to the site, then type in a note saying, ‘I’d like to do a buddy run first,” when they fill out the volunteer form under the Join Us tab. Hauser and Sherman explained that the Good Samaritan Act, which is federal law, protects them legally from any complaint about rescued food.
“But we have never had a problem,” Sherman said of rescuing perishable food. “Usually the food makes it from donor to recipient within an hour, if not within minutes.”
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