Courtesy of Kenneth C. Zirkel

The annual Chowder Cook-off will be held on Saturday on the Commons and on surrounding streets.

December 2, 2018

A Chowder Champion Will Be Chosen Saturday at the Annual Cook-Off

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Downtown Ithaca will be battling the cold December weather this weekend, with more than 20 different variants of warm chowder.

A competition for the Chowder Cup Champion will commence this Saturday at noon in Downtown Ithaca, featuring “traditional, exotic, and gourmet chowder from local restaurants,” according to the event’s Facebook page.

The Cook-off is part of Ice Fest, an annual Ithaca festival that celebrates the cold weather, and will take place on the Commons and the surrounding streets, according to the Facebook post.

The Chowder Cook-Off is in its ninth year, and tickets for it can be purchased either in advance or on the day of the competition. After the event, attendees have the option of voting on what they think is the best chowder.

According to the Ithaca Voice, Simeons American Bistro was the winner in the 2017, 8th Annual Chowder Cook-Off. There was also a separate title for Best Veggie Chowder, which went to Greenstar Natural Food Markets. The last category the Voice reported was Best Meat Chowder, a title that went to Max’s American Grill.

This annual tourist event is hosted by Elmira Savings Bank, City Centre Apartments and Downtown Ithaca. Over 2,000 people are interested in or are going to the Cook-off, according to its Facebook event page.

The Cook-Off was partially funded by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program, according to the event page. The tourism program works to protect economic development and enhance quality of life, according to its website. The grants work to fund efforts that draw visitors to Tompkins County for overnight stays or accomplish other critical actions listed in the 2020 Strategic Tourism Plan.

The grant for Ice Fest totalled $10,000, according to the Tompkins County’s page. A total of $97,500 in grants were given out for other community projects, including the Ithaca Festival After Dark in June and the Shakespeare Festival in July.

According to Scott Rougeau, associate special events director for the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, “the events were a huge success” in 2017.

“The crowds saw some amazing sculptures created by some amazing ice carvers, and they enjoyed some very tasty chowders, especially from our people’s choice winners. They really rocked it,” Rougeau told the Finger Lakes Daily News. “We thank the participating restaurants for their tasty concoctions, and we thank the public for attending, sampling and then offering their votes.”