Champions of Chowder

Cape Codders know their chowder and they know that not all chowder is created equally.  But what separates good chowder from great chowder? The only way to know what qualities you prefer in chowder is to try and sample all of them!

Over the past 10 years, Captain Parker’s Pub of West Yarmouth has truly separated itself from the competition.  Inducted into the Clam Chowder Hall of Fame in both Boston and on Cape Cod in 2006, the restaurant seems to have found the holy grail of clam chowder, having claimed 12 chowder titles in the past decade.  In fact, Captain Parker’s took home top honors at the local contest for so many consecutive years that the restaurant graciously stepped aside for a time to give other contenders a shot at the title. Gerry Manning, owner of Captain Parker’s, was happy to be invited back to last year’s 28th annual WCOD Chowder Festival at the Cape Cod Melody Tent to reclaim his title.

Manning claims there are no secret ingredients to his award-winning chowder, saying simply, “Our chowder is made fresh daily.” He adds, “The unique flavor comes from using the freshest ingredients and the small batch sizes.” Next year, Manning will see if he can add another title to his untarnished record. Captain Parker’s has never lost at the WCOD Festival, an amazing feat for any restaurant.

The Skipper Restaurant of South Yarmouth, winner of three chowder titles between Cape Cod, Newport and Boston, has also achieved chowder glory. The Skipper claims to have the secret to great chowder, and many agree. Much like Captain Parker’s, The Skipper ladles out heaping portions of thick, creamy chowder full of chunky clams and potatoes. The difference between the two is up to the taster to decide; both are delicious representations of the traditional style of clam chowder that has become a staple in New England. Is one really better than the other, or are they just different variations of the same theme? You be the judge.

The Lobster Boat of West Yarmouth, winner of the 27th Annual WCOD Chowder Festival in 2007, didn’t make it to the podium this year, losing out to returning champion Captain Parker’s, following their  four-year hiatus from the competition. Runner-up honors this year went to Wimpy’s Seafood Café of Osterville.  Bobby Byrne’s Restaurant of Hyannis won the title of “Best Non-Traditional Chowder” for the second year in a row with their corn & shrimp chowder, proving that variations of the local favorite are welcome in the market.

Chowder can be made in many different ways to appeal to people with widely varied tastes. Some chowder fanatics like their chowder thick and creamy, while others opt for a thinner broth with larger chunks of clam and potato. Some consumers prefer the many nontraditional types of chowder, where additional ingredients change flavors and fuse traditional tastes with spices from around the world.

Vacationers on Cape Cod beware, you may never be able to enjoy clam chowder at home once you’ve experienced firsthand one of our ‘Champions of Chowder’. We’ll certainly keep you coming back for more.