THE WEST is best for chowder. IT is neither a fishy tale nor a load of old cockles and mussels. Well, The West Bar, Bridge Street, Westport, was recently crowned National Chowder Champion 2012 at the second Annual National Chowder Cook-Off in Kinsale, County Cork.
The event attracted competitors – chefs, fishermen, commercial chowder producers – from all over Ireland. Held at the famous Acton’s Hotel, over 800 members of the public judged the fishy pots of creamy chowder. It was the West Bar’s special secret recipe that wowed the hungry hordes, while The White Lady, Kinsale came second, with third place going to the Mourne Seafood Bar, Belfast.
Speaking afterwards, Frank Walsh, co-owner of The West, said the chowder’s success was because the chef always used ‘the freshest and best quality fish’ from Clew Bay ensuring ‘the best flavour’. Business partner, John McGrath said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be crowned this year’s champions. It was a fantastic day; and we are thrilled to have been involved and to have done so well against so many fantastic competitors in Kinsale, Ireland’s Gourmet capital.”
Celebrity chef, and owner of Kinsale’s famous Fishy Fishy restaurant, Martin Shanahan said: “The mouth-watering aromas, witty banter and delicious food made for a hugely entertaining and captivating event, which was enjoyed by all. The Cook-Off was a resounding success with queues forming well before we opened. It was fantastic to have almost every county in Ireland represented this year, with Frank and John from The West Bar beating off stiff competition to win the public vote. But the real winner was fish, with almost 800 people experiencing it here today.”
The West Bar also received a customised trophy and an all-inclusive package stay in Kinsale for the renowned Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival 2012. The annual October event, now in its 36th year, is one of the most highly regarded and popular festivals on the Irish gourmet events calendar. They will also go forward to the Newport, Rhode Island Great Chowder Cook-Off in June 2013.
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