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After a two-year pause, the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown returned to both Vancouver and Toronto this October. Twenty-two chefs competed, six Chowders were awarded, and over 500 ocean lovers gathered to support sustainable seafood!

Each event boasted a talented line-up of chefs from popular Canadian restaurants, battling it out with their signature ocean-friendly chowders.

With so much culinary skill present, it was incredibly difficult to name a winner. But our panel of judges and amazing attendees put their expert palates to work, sampling each gourmet chowder and craft beer pairing.

Vancouver Winners

Chowder Champion: Tyler Prevette from Tableau Bar Bistro

Smoked Geoduck Chowder

Much of the seafood harvested here in Canada is exported, but did you know that over 90% of our geoduck gets shipped overseas? By making this underrated Pacific shellfish the star of his chowder, Chef Tyler introduced a roomful of people to this local and sustainable seafood gem.

Because diver-caught geoduck are harvested with high selectivity, this clam comes with little to no associated bycatch or environmental harm – making them an excellent ocean-friendly choice.

“I would love to see more [geoduck] stay in Canada and be enjoyed closer to home. The products that are available to us on the West Coast are such a blessing and hopefully showcasing them can bring people the same pleasure it brings me.”

Chef Tyler Prevette

Best Chowder and Beer Pairing: Chef William Lew from Club Versante

“135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N” Chowder
Paired with Superflux Brewing’s Easy Tiger Pale Ale

“A dish that is meant to bring awareness to the ocean.”

Chef Will Lew

A good dish tells a story through its flavours and ingredients, but Chef Will’s award-winning chowder transported tasters straight into the realm of ocean conservation. Chef Will’s dish was both delicious and impeccably presented, with elaborate platting prompted by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of plastic and garbage in our ocean, currently spanning 1.6 million square kilometres of ocean between the West Coast of North America and Japan (coordinates 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N)

Through his use of sustainable seafood and inventive ingredients and plating, Chef Will’s dish was a call to action for both supporting sustainable seafood and keeping our ocean plastic free.

People’s Choice: Chef Chris Andraza from Lift Bar and Grill

Smoked Oyster Chowder

Originally from Ontario, Chef Chris was amazed by the abundance of fresh, sustainable seafood upon moving to Vancouver. However, it was Pacific oysters that left an indelible mark on him – and his enduring appreciation for this delicacy persists to this day.

Smoked oysters, a quintessential West Coast cuisine, prove to be a great choice for sustainable dining. As bivalves, they are an incredibly ocean-friendly option thanks to their low trophic status and minimal resource requirements for cultivation.

There’s nothing quite like the West Coast in a cup to get a roomful of people excited about local sustainable seafood. And clearly – as the Vancouver People’s Choice Award Winner – people were pretty jazzed about Chef Chris’ dish!

“A winning chowder is a celebration of our commitment to a healthy ocean.”

Chef Chris Andraza

Toronto Winners

Chowder Champion: Taylor McMeekin from The Drake Hotel

While chowder is normally a heavy dish, Chef Taylor’s unique aerated soup base was light and fluffy without sacrificing flavor or depth. Made with BC spot prawns and cod, this chowder was award-winning in both taste and sustainability.

As the Chef Ambassador and Business Lead for Fogo Island Fish, Chef Taylor definitely knows a thing or two about sustainable seafood. The Wild Northern Cod used in his dish is sustainably sourced from the cold waters of the Labrador current. Each cod is hand-line caught, a centuries old method meaning one hook, one fish, and zero bycatch.   

Best Chowder and Beer Pairing: Cody Veinotte from Joey Eaton Centre

East Coast Chowder
Paired with Silversmith Brewing’s Helles Lager

Born and raised in Halifax, Chef Cody brought a piece of the Maritimes to Toronto with his East Coast Chowder. This chowder contained a number of tasty ingredients, but the one that really stood out was the oak smoked salmon infusing each and every bite. But that’s not all!

Rather than discard the smoked salmon skin, Chef Cody transformed it into the perfect crispy and savory garnish for his sustainable seafood chowder. This resourceful use of multiple parts of the fish not only showcased his culinary creativity but also highlights just how fun and tasty minimizing food waste can be.

People’s Choice: Youngkyo Kim from The Westin Harbour Castle

Chef Youngkyo’s dish was sugar, spice, and everything nice – and by everything we mean everything! Chef Youngkyo’s dish contained not one, not two, but FIVE different sustainable seafoods.

Sweetened with brown sugar and seasoned with the perfect blend of garlic, ginger, gochujang, and more, this ocean-friendly chowder was packed with spot prawns, halibut, manilla clams, and honey clams. Topped with a seaweed crisp, this dish was universally adored.

“Using as many sustainable seafood/ingredients as possible is one of our goals at Westin Harbour Castle, and it was a great opportunity to showcase what we do at the event.”

Chef Youngkyo Kim

All the proceeds from the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown directly supports Ocean Wise’s work to protect whales, feed the world, fight climate change, and clean the seas. This includes the Ocean Wise Seafood Program, which empowers restaurants, retailers, suppliers, and consumers across Canada to choose sustainable seafood.

Overfishing is one of the biggest threats facing our ocean, and supporting sustainable seafood is an easy and effective solution for supporting healthy ocean ecosystems. By simply changing the seafoods we eat, we can help curb the impacts of overfishing and allow our ocean to recover.

A huge thanks to everyone who came out to support us, we can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Posted November 6, 2023 by Kim Bricker

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