ITHACA, N.Y. – Downtown Ithaca has counted the public’s votes from its 9th Annual Chowder Cook-Off held this past weekend, and it’s ready to announce the winners. Drum roll, please…
Simeon’s American Bistro, with multiple votes received throughout the cook-off, easily walked away with the Best Seafood Chowder crown. In addition, Simeon’s clam chowder received the win for best traditional chowder. Taverna Banfi, located in Cornell University’s Statler Hotel, was the runner-up in both of these categories. Third place in the seafood category went to Ithaca Bakery, and Luna Inspired Street Food took home third in the best traditional chowder contest. Simeon’s American Bistro’s clam chowder was a huge hit at the Annual Chowder Cook-Off.
The Best Veggie Chowder title was awarded to Greenstar Natural Foods Market, a local health food store, for its unicorn chowder with purple sweet potatoes, and second place went out to Lou’s Covert Country Kitchen, while third place was awarded to downtown Ithaca’s popular Mexican joint Viva Taqueria.
And, last, but certainly not least, in the Best Meat Chowder category the title went to Max’s American Grill located in Hotel Ithaca. Second and third place in this category were awarded to Ithaca Bakery and downtown’s newest eatery Eat the Foood (located in Lot 10 for the winter).
“All of the Chowder Cook-Off participants deserve a round of applause for their tasty chowders. We’re fortunate to have so many talented chefs in our region who bring such innovative concoctions to this contest each year,” said Summer Keown, special events director for the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, a not-for-profit organization charged with organizing the event.
The Chowder Cook-Off was held in conjunction with the 12th Annual Ice Festival where guests watched some of the nation’s masterfully skilled ice carvers compete in ice carving competitions for cash prizes and awards.
Following Friday evening’s Speed Carving competition, Oneida resident Wei-Sen Liang earned first place for his sword in the stone with a shield ice sculpture and Matt Hass, of Canandaigua, took home second place for his fawn carving.
After Saturday’s main ice carving event, first place was awarded to Ross Baisis, of Canada, for his dragon creation, second went to Rich Daly for his prawn and turtle carving and the third-place finisher was Wei-Sen Liang for his knight on a horse sculpture.
“We thank the ice carvers who participated in these high stakes contests. They certainly offered our festival guests an incredible show. We also thank the hundreds of individuals who braved the elements to attend this thrilling annual affair and we offer a special thank you to our event sponsors for helping to make this all possible. We trust that everyone had a wonderful time,” said Keown.
The Ice Festival and Chowder Cook-Off were made possible in part by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program, and Ice Fest was sponsored by the Elmira Savings, Hilton Garden Inn and City Centre Apartments.
Ice Fest also featured the very popular Ice Bar, a serving station made completely out of ice. The bar’s fine brews were provided by Bacchus Brewing Company and its variety of local wines came from Treleaven Winery.
Entertainment from comedic juggler and fire breather Nate the Great, and caroling from Flight Performing Arts students along with a costume performance from Civic Ensemble and a meet and greet with the Snow-Mane Sled Dog Team rounded out the weekend’s activities. This annual affair also hosted, on Thursday night, its 2nd Annual Silent Disco, which received rave reviews from its diverse group of participants.
Downtown Ithaca’s next major event is the Chili Cook-Off set Saturday, Feb. 9 on The Commons. For more information about this and other downtown events, keep an eye on our Facebook Events Page or visit www.downtownithaca.com.
Featured image: Ross Baisis took home first place for his ice dragon in Saturday’s carving competition. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)