Mouthwatering chowders were savoured, local brews were sipped, and Chowder Chowdown Champions were crowned in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, bringing this year’s Ocean Wise chowder competition to a close.

Things got heated last week as dozens of top chefs from Ocean Wise partner restaurants in each city brought their best chowder recipe forward in hopes of taking home the prestigious honour of Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion.


Vancouver Chowder Chowdown Champion Chef Aaron Rail and his culinary team

In Vancouver, Chef Aaron Rail of Courtenay, B.C.’s White Whale took home the win with his Ultimate Chowder featuring a mélange of Ocean Wise seafood including lingcod, trap-caught Dungeness crab, spot prawns and hand-harvested clams, and enhanced with bacon, sweet corn and a hint of parsley. White Whale also took home the People’s Choice Award and was deliciously paired with Hoyne Brewing Company’s Appleton Extra Special Bitter. Parkside Brewery’s Seasons Rye Saison and The Wooden Boat’s Salmon & Tamarind Chowder à la Mekong (Canh Chua Ca Chowder) from Chef Thompson Tran took home the award for Best Pairing.


White Whale’s chowder was deliciously paired with Hoyne Brewing Company’s Appleton Extra Special Bitter

In Toronto, Chefs Chris Torgis and Joel Gray of Bruce Wine Bar of Thornbury, ON were crowned the 2016 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion. The judging panel was wowed by the chef team’s New England Corn and Smoked Whitefish Chowder. Featuring fresh herbs, pickled potatoes, whitefish roe and a corn tortilla ash, the chowder had mouths watering.  Bruce Wine Bar also took home the People’s Choice Award.


Toronto Chowder Chowdown Champs Chefs Chris Torgis and Joel Gray of Bruce Wine Bar with their New England Corn and Smoked Whitefish Chowder.

In Calgary, Chef Jordan Walsh from Catch Restaurant & Oyster Bar took the Chowder Chowdown title for his Southern Clam Chowder. His winning chowder featuring Cajun cornmeal crusted catfish, smoked scallops, double smoked bacon, andouille sausage, and country fried clams, had the crowd wanting more. Thomsons Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency won People’s Choice Award for the third year in a row and the Best Beer Pairing was Last Best Brewing & Distilling who paired with their own Smoked Sturgeon Chowder recipe.


Chef Jordan Walsh’s winning Southern Clam Chowder

“This event brings together the very best in B.C’s food scene, including consumers and chef partners, united by their love and support of sustainable seafood,” said Ann-Marie Copping, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program manager. “The food is delicious, the energy is amazing and the conversation is inspiring. Everyone that attends is there because they recognize our oceans, threatened by overfishing, need us. Events like this and partners like ours are truly helping to make a difference.”


The culinary heavyweights who competed in Calgary’s Chowder Chowdown 2016.

November is Ocean Wise Month, but the Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise program works to raise awareness of sustainable seafood all year round. Look for the Ocean Wise symbol anywhere you choose to enjoy seafood.

Overfishing is the single biggest threat our oceans face today. With more than 675 partners across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice.

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