Chris’s Short Take: Saratoga’s Chowderfest 2020

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Okay… true confessions.  I’d never been to Chowderfest.  Well, sort of… I’d helped cook at it… true confessions Deux, I used to cook at Druthers.  I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that opened their Albany location and got sent up by the then Executive Chef Sean Comiskey to help out at the big event.  It was a blur, at first, we were in a kitchen so thick with steam I’d have sworn I was in a restaurant the middle of Shanghai, and the next minute I was on the serving line with thousands of people clamoring for a taste.  When it was over, I wanted somebody to hand me a sword so I could raise it up and scream, “Freedom!” at the top of my lungs, but when I looked up there was just a courtyard littered with empty cups, and one guy with a lobster hat singing, “What do you do with a drunken sailor”.  Yesterday was different.

First of all Lobster Hat Guy was finally gone, (we didn’t think he’d EVER leave, it’s called pitch, dude… try it.)  But this time I got to walk around town, see some old friends, and taste some mighty good chowder.

It was a blur, at first, we were in a kitchen so thick with steam I’d have sworn I was in a restaurant the middle of Shanghai, and the next minute I was on the line serving thousands of people clamoring for a taste.

Despite parking where the locals spoke Quebicouis, I sauntered downtown in search of a steaming bowl of deliciousness with a few thousand of my closest friends.

Caroline Street at 2 PM.

The first stop was to visit my old friends at Druthers, and as you can see, I was met with all the decorum and abiding reverence I deserved.

The Martell Bros., owners of Druthers, with Chef Peter Hahm.

The entire scene came back, to quote Firesign Theater, “Like a hot kiss on the end of a wet fist”.

But my brothers and sisters in arms kept up the fight…

Across the street, Daphne Morgan Allen, one of the managers at The Mercantile. was fending off the approaching hordes at the bar.

Others stormed the porch of the Adelphi…

Salt and Char was overrun…

But in the end, order was maintained by these good guys,…hope they got some chowder

I had some fun writing this, but the fact is it was great fun!  Kudos to Saratoga for bringing a sunny day to a town under a February cloudy sky.  If you missed it this year, don’t miss it in ’21… you never know who you might run into…

2020 Chowderfest Winners:

People’s Choice 500 bowls or less: Ribbon Cafe, Southwest Shrimp Corn Chowder with tequila bacon

People’s Choice 501-750 bowls: Bentley’s Tavern, Sweet Harvest Chorizo Chowder

People’s Choice 751-1,000 bowls: The Mill on Round Lake, Davey Jones Seafood Chowder

People’s Choice 1,001-1,500 bowls: Solevo Kitchen & Social, Clams Casino Chowder

People’s Choice 1,501- 2,000 bowls: The Wesley Community, Smokey Shrimp and Grilled Andouille Sausage Chowder

People’s Choice 2,001-3,000 bowls: Courtyard by Marriott, Smoked Buffalo Chicken Chowder

People’s Choice 3,001-4,000 bowls: Parting Glass, Luck of the Irish Seafood Chowder 

People’s Choice 4,001+ bowls: Dango’sChicken Wing Chowder

Best Dessert Chowder: Sweet Mimi’s, Tiramisu Dessert Chowder

Saranac Cup: Bookmakers at the Holiday Inn, Saranac Lager Philly Cheesesteak Chowder

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