WOKQ Chowder Festival

Spoons up! Seacoast restaurants stir up competition for Golden Ladle award

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
May 30. 2018 12:38PM
Tom and Jenny Nelson opened Nibblesworth on The Hill in Portsmouth last fall. They'll be participating in the annual chowder competition at Prescott Park Saturday. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)
If you go...
WHAT: 34th annual WOKQ Chowder Festival

WHEN: Saturday, with gates opening at 11:30 a.m. Event runs until the pots are empty

WHERE: Prescott Park, Portsmouth

TICKETS: Free for Prescott Park Arts festival members; $14 for non-member adults and $7 for youths ages 12 and under. Bring your own spoon or borrow a spoon from the festival for a $1 deposit.

INFO: prescottpark.org

A dozen restaurants will be competing for the Golden Ladle award during the 34th annual WOKQ 97.5 Chowder Festival in Portsmouth Saturday.

The popular event helps kick off Prescott Park Arts Festival’s summer season with live music, refreshing drinks and a variety of piping hot chowder recipes.

Jenny and Tom Nelson, owners of Nibblesworth Wood Fire Grill, will be competing. They opened their restaurant on The Hill, in the north end of Portsmouth, in September and volunteered during the festival last year.

“This will be my first chowder cook-off. I’ve done a lot of chili competitions,” Jenny Nelson said.

She makes all the food in the restaurant from scratch and works with local farmers and fishermen on a regular basis. She is using skate from New England Fishmongers in Eliot, Maine, for her cream-based seafood chowder.

The Nelsons will be up against teams from other Seacoast operations, including The River House, Ri Ra, Two-Fifty Market, Redhook Brewery Pub, The Pointe, 110 Grill, The Portsmouth Brewery, Martingale Wharf, Hayseed, Virgin Oyster Company and British Beer Company.

At British Beer Company, at 103 Hanover St., executive chef James Gidney said all the competitors generally know each other.

“There’s a little bit of banter, but it’s all friendly,” Gidney said.

He said British Beer Company typically enters a classic New England clam chowder, but this year he will be bringing 30 gallons of a cream-based chowder introducing new ingredients.

“This year, we’re doing something a little different,” Gidney said. “We’re working on small batch recipes right now.”

Last year, The River House won the Golden Ladle award, people’s choice award for best booth, and first place in the judge’s choice award. Two-Fifty Market won second place in the people’s choice and judge’s choice categories.


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