On Saturday, October 22, 683 guests flocked to the Chowder Competition of the 4th annual Wharf Fest. Ten restaurants of the West Coast’s chowder capital, Fisherman’s Wharf, offered their version of this classic seafood comfort food to patrons. Attendees could taste each one and vote for their favorite. Additionally, a distinguished panel of judges tasted each dish for a separate Judges’ Choice award, and the results are in.
For the People’s Choice vote, 538 ballots were cast, and a majority agreed that the favorite chowder of the day came from a first-time winner, Cioppino’s. Executive Chef Christopher Zekos and Sous Chef Salvador Sandoval are excited to receive top honors at this year’s event. Their brainchild is a classic clam chowder featuring diced crispy pancetta, fresh herbs, onions celery and potato. It is the same chowder that they serve daily at their restaurant. The second place award went to Brick & Beam, the new restaurant of the Hyatt Centric hotel. Brick & Beam workshopped their chowder among the kitchen staff for days and came up with a spicy chipotle blend for the runner-up dish. Brick & Beam previously won the Judges’ Choice award in 2015. Third place went to the longest running winner, Blue Mermaid Restaurant.
First place for the coveted Judge’s Choice was awarded to Blue Mermaid Restaurant, headed by Chef Adrian Garde, for their sustainably sourced craw fish, crab, and corn chowder. Blue Mermaid has established themselves as quite the contender, with three first place wins already under their belt: People’s Choice in 2013 and People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice in 2014. They have the most first place wins of any restaurant. While this year’s variation of their chowder is not currently served in their restaurant, they plan on incorporating it into their menu after a restaurant remodel to take place later this year. The second place for Judges’ Choice was a tie between Pier Market and Mc Cormick & Kuleto’s, also a 2015 Judges’ Choice winner. Third place was also a tie between Cioppino’s and Castagnola’s.
A total of ten restaurants competed in this year’s Chowder Competition:
· Blue Mermaid Restaurant
· Boudin Bakery
· Brick & Beam
· Fog Harbor Fish House
· Franciscan Crab Restaurant
· McCormick & Kuleto’s
· Pier Market
The judges panel of media and prominent political figures included:
· Sean Timberlake - Writer with Bay Area Reporter BARtab
· Aaron Peskin, San Francisco District 3 Supervisor
· Jasara Navarro - CEO/Founder at The Loop Exclusive, Inc.
· Jeff Sears - President, Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District Board of Directors
· Susan Reynolds - Port of San Francisco
The Wharf Fest Chowder Competition & Street Fair were major wins for the Fisherman’s Wharf District. In its fourth year, the festival had the most ticketed attendees to the sold out Chowder Competition, at 683. The free portion of the street fair saw an estimated 8,000 festival-goers, making it the most successful Wharf Fest to date.
This success is crucial piece of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District’s strategy to, not only, appeal to domestic and international visitors, but also invite locals to fall in love with the Wharf all over again. Earlier in the year the neighborhood threw a PokéNIGHT at the Wharf event, that drew a crowd of over 2,000 Bay Area Pokémon GO players. There are new Fisherman’s Wharf events on the horizon, as well. This December, as a part of MerryTime at the Wharf, the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf crab wheel sign and trees lining Jefferson street will be dressed up in an ugly holiday sweater “yarn bomb” to promote a warm clothing drive for the homeless as well as a one night Ugly Holiday Sweater Pub Crawl. January will bring the first-ever Crab Month at the Wharf. This Restaurant Week-like event will showcase the neighborhood’s most beloved crustacean at promotioinal prices for the entire month. Other new events are planned for 2017. Go to visitfishermanswharf.com/events for the most up to date calendar of events.
Wharf Fest is hosted by the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District and produced by Steven Restivo Event Services. Sponsors of the event include the Coca Cola, Capitol One, the Port of San Francisco, Crunch Fitness, Farm Fresh to You, Blue Waters Marketing, Wyndham Vacation Rentals, the San Francisco Chronicle, Funcheap SF, and, as a Gold Level sponsor, Suzhou Tourism. Suzhou, the "Venice of China," is known for its elegant stone bridges, canals, gardens, and noteworthy architecture.
ABOUT THE FISHERMAN’S WHARF COMMUNITY BENEFIT DISTRICT:
The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District (FWCBD.com), a nonprofit organization, was founded in November of 2005 by the business and property owners of the San Francisco neighborhood. The district is funded through an annual assessment for 15 years from the property owners. The purpose of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District is to preserve and enhance its vast San Francisco waterfront landscape and multi-cultural heritage, while integrating modern efficiencies to enrich the experience of visitors from both near and far.