This year’s Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown, one of the most anticipated food events of the year, took Vancouver and Toronto by storm last night, culminating in the naming of the events’ winning chowders.

Top chefs from Vancouver and Toronto competed head-to-head in a friendly competition for the winning title of 2012 Chowder Chowdown Champion. A panel of celebrity judges in in both cities carefully tasted and deliberated to crown this year’s champions.

Guests also had the opportunity to make their voice heard, and to vote on their favourite chowder for the People’s Choice Award. With ingredients ranging from kaffir limes leaves to maple syrup, guests and judges were treated to wide range of ocean-friendly chowders that were perfectly paired with beer that highlighted each chowder’s flavour profile.

With what appeared to be a tough decision, the winners were finally decided upon. Drum roll, please:


  • Chowder Chowdown Champion 2012: Chef Chris Whittaker from Forage Restaurant with Creamy Spot Prawn Chowder with Poached Egg and Smokey Chicharon
  • People’s Choice: Chef Christ Whittaker again!
  • Best Chowder/Beer Pairing: Chef Dana Hauser of Herons West Coast Kitchen at the Fairmont Waterfront for pairing her Roast Powell River Sturgeon Chowder was paired with Granville Island Brewery English Bay Pale Ale

Vancouver Chowdown winner Chef Chris Whittaker of Forage Restaurant with John Nightingale, president and CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium, (L) and Mike McDermid, partner relations manager of Ocean Wise


  • Chowder Chowdown Champion 2012: Chef Albert Ponzo of Le Select Bistro with Chef Ponzo’s Seafood Chowder
  • People’s Choice Award: Chef Richard Baksh of Earls Kitchen and Bar with Manilla Clam and Seafood Chowder

Le Select Bistro’s Chef Albert Ponzo accepts the Judges’ Choice award as the 2012 Chowder Chowdown Champion

Hearty congratulations to all the winners and participating chefs on a job well done!

In our eyes, each of the chefs is a winner, as they supported the event’s overarching goal – saving our oceans by encouraging event guests and the community to choose sustainable Ocean Wise options every time they look for seafood.

“The participating chefs demonstrated that sustainable seafood is not only good for our oceans, but great tasting as well. We honour their commitment to fight the biggest threat to our oceans – overfishing,” added Mike McDermid, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise partner relations manager.

This event is part of Ocean Wise month, celebrated each November to encourage consumers and businesses to make smart, healthy choices for our oceans.

Look for the Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item for the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. For more information on Ocean Wise, please click here.

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