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In LI chowder contest, local clammers big winners

Jolly Fisherman employees, from left, Carmen Martino and

Jolly Fisherman employees, from left, Carmen Martino and Elder Orellana, took top prizes for New England clam chowder and lobster bisque at the 13th Long Island chowder contest at the Snapper Inn in Oakdale. (Feb. 4, 2012) (Credit: Nicole Bartoline)

The Super Bowl isn’t the only place you could see New England and New York face off in a bowl this weekend.

Eight local restaurants faced off Saturday during the 13th annual Long Island Chowder Contest at the Snapper Inn in Oakdale, presenting their best recipes to compete in three different categories -- New England clam chowder, Manhattan clam chowder and lobster bisque.

“We started doing the contest 13 years ago, to remind people in the middle of the winter that Long Island still has some great food and wine, and about two years in, we decided we would turn it into a benefit, said Richard Remmer, owner of the Snapper Inn, where more than 300 chowder enthusiasts packed the Snapper Inn for a sampling of their favorite soups.

The event was open to the public; admission was a suggested donation of $10 to benefit the Great South Bay Nature Conservancy.

Most of the participants were cleaned out of their chowder before the first hour of the competition.

“We saw the event listed in the paper and decided it would be something different and fun to do,” said Jason McCory of Levittown, who brought his girlfriend, Ingrid.

The chefs were all happy to participate in the friendly competition to help the Great South Bay.

John Monty, a Giants fan and head chef and owner of Sea Levels in Brightwaters, one of the participating restaurants, renamed his chowder a “Long Island Clam and Corn Chowder,” avoiding the New England reference, because he “wants nothing to do with New England.”

Maureen Denning, Snapper Inn head chef, said it was important for the restaurant to support local farms, clammers and fisherman, “because that’s who comes here -- we need each other.”

Before the winners were announced, Remmer stressed the importance of donating to the conservancy and its cause, to rejuvenate the clams of the Great South Bay. “Clams are the basis of the bay ecosystem and filter thousands of gallons of water a day. Without a healthy clam population, we won’t have a healthy bay.”

The samples were blind-taste tested by five judges.

The winners were the Snapper Inn for Manhattan clam chowder and The Jolly Fisherman & Steakhouse in Roslyn  for its New England clam chowder and lobster bisque.

“All of the soups were good, but Maureen really did a great job with the Manhattan clam this year, bar none,” said Blake Verity, a judge and head chef at the Piping Rock Country Club in Locust Valley, adding: “I love participating in this event every year.”

Participants included:
H20 Seafood Grill, Smithtown
Irish Coffee Pub, East Islip
Jolly Fisherman & Steakhouse, Roslyn
Porters on the Lane, Bellport
Riverbay, Williston Park
Sea Levels, Brightwaters
Snapper Inn, Oakdale
View Restaurant, Oakdale

Photo: Jolly Fisherman employees, from left, Carmen Martino and Elder Orellana, took top prizes for New England clam chowder and lobster bisque. (Feb. 4, 2012)

Tags: Oakdale , Brightwaters , clams , Super Bowl , chowder

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