Monday, September 8, 2014

And The Winners Are..............

First checkout!chili-chowder-challenge/cldl for the winners of the Chili-Chowder Challenge this past week in Boothbay, Maine. It was the past 10 days that they celebrated their 250th birthday but had many events were enjoyed but the multitudes of people. Not the least being, in my opinion, visiting all the businesses and meeting everyone. I couldn't believe how genuinely pleasant everyone was and the food?!?!...........Outrageously delicious.

And that brings us to the Chili/chowder Challenge. There really isn't anything I can say negative about any of the contestants. All put their best in order to be crowned the best in the region. Certainly there were some faux-pas's, but nothing that would have turned me away. I tasted a variety of chili's that reflected ones own personal touch, and taste, but to play the devils advocate, I needed to judge the best overall recipe that reflected the true taste and texture in which a particular dish represented. If the judging had a category for Most Original or Most Unique, than the choice would have been more difficult.

The method I used in both Chowder and Chili tastings was simple and I use it in every competition I judge that requires it. I wanted a chili that represented the basic and classic representation.

Chili Con Carne had to have the right amount of meat in proportion to other ingredients. The heat needed to be present, yet not ruin my taste buds for the other flavors that should be present in a all classic chilies. Now I know everyone has their own version of what is the appropriate heat level, and I will be honest in telling you that I sweat eating barbecue chips. Sure my resistance to heat in any form is low but I put my personal taste aside and judge on unbiased criteria. Although my heat tolerance may be low, I am easily able to distinguish between levels of spice and judge accordingly. I also didn't want to eat my chili with a fork, yet be thick enough for any of the ingredients to just barely hang on without falling off the spoon. 

For the chowder, since this was a New England chowder competition AND on the coast of Maine, I was more intent of a chowder that represented both in a classic sense. I wanted the perfect chowder, without any off-taste of old fish, rubbery clams or to taste milk that didn't have the taste of either. I wanted a chowder that was the perfect vehicle for crackers. Not the soft saltines but something that would have slowly soaked into the old Crown Pilots or Common Cracker.

Did I find a winner in either category that withstood my strict standards? You bet!! Not only did I find the winners but the general public who voted for their best in each category, and they were eerily close to mine.

                                                          Watershed Tavern

My choice of the best chowder went to the Watershed Tavern . I gave them a 9.9 out of a possible 10. See my review at I have let them know the one thing that would have propelled them to 10, but this will be between them and me. Regardless, I urge everyone and anyone that happens to be in the area to visit this remarkable pub and restaurant. Heck, make that special trip just to enjoy their chowder. Perfect in consistency, perfect fish flavor and reminiscent of what a true chowder should be here in New England.

At the same time, their chili was killer. The heat was at a level that hit me at the beginning of each bite and almost entirely left my tongue before scooping up that next, chunky bite. I gave them a 9 out of 10. Again, well worth the trip to this business just for either dish.


The best chili I judged went to Kalers . Hands down, the perfect chili with a rating of 10. Perfection with every mouthful, and I did take some mouthfuls. ordinarily, I take just small bites to judge because by the end of the 4th or 5th sampling, both my belly and mind need a break. I simply couldn't put the cup down so I polished it off post haste. Kalers, I commend you on a job well done.

For the peoples choice, they chose Whales Tale Restaurant for the winner, two years in a row. This restaurant was my second choice, giving them a 9 out of a possible 10 rating. I can see how they have ranked so high both years and thank them very much for a sincerely delicious chowder that was quite memorable.

The peoples choice for the best chili went to Capers Deli. They ranked a 9 out of 10 for me. Great flavor, great heat and a great job, that was ob\vious from the first spoonful to the last.


This was an enjoyable tasting and I can proudly proclaim that any of these chowders and chilies could have competed on a national level. I can also aver that the Watershed Taverns chowder was probably the best chowder I have eaten anywhere, when it comes to the original and classic presentation of this New England culinary cornerstone.

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