Chowder isn’t just for New England. And, it isn’t just for winter. Wherever there is a sea, there’s chowder in some form or another. Whether on the coast of the Atlantic, Pacific or the Caribbean Sea, chowder chefs blend the flavors and bounty of both land and sea. Chowder, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Well, that’s going to be a challenge, as there are endless variations on the chowder theme, enough to have a competition.
This past year’s Taste of St. Croix featured impressive and, I might add, the always delicious, kitchen concoctions from over 50 restaurateurs, caterers and professional chefs. Among the categories of the culinary competition was “soup/stew,” which always draws a number of creative interpretations of chowder. Last year’s prizewinners had hinted at the possibilities of the palate-pleasing nature of chowder with pumpkin seafood and Crucian conch versions.
Chowder has always been a part of the weekly Seafood Fest at Divi Carina Bay for good reason: It’s a crowd pleaser all year long. You never know until the first taste whether it’s wahoo, mahi or snapper that went from the boat into the pot that day. Carina Bay’s Executive Chef Thomas is determined to win the soup/stew category of the 2013 Taste of St. Croix with the Divi Signature Seafood Chowder. If he wins, he won’t have to go far – the Taste is staged right outside his kitchen on the Divi beachfront. As always, the competition is keen. All the soups are tasty. Who wants the recipe?
There were six other “best” categories in the Taste of St. Croix: appetizer, entrée, dessert, beverage, local fare, presentation and vegetarian. And while judges were behind closed doors sampling, assessing and ranking entries, 1500 guests outside on the Divi beachfront were sampling the same. No worries, there are always plenty to go around. And, by the way, last year the St. Croix Central High School afterschool cooking class won best vegetarian dish. That certainly bodes well for St. Croix’s culinary future.
In addition to Thomas and his staff, 40 other Divi Carina Bay personnel were hard at work with 114 volunteers to help make the Taste a sensational event this past year. It’s a very big party and one you shouldn’t miss next year. Same time. Same place. It’s a great night to chow-der down.