In the race for the best chowder -- the champion is -- Gelston House. The restaurant took home the "People's Choice -- Best Chowder" silver ladle trophy for their New England Clam Chowder.
The winners went shell-to-shell at this weekend's 7th annual East Haddam chowder cook-off.
The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station took home second place for its clam chowder in a bread roll. The restaurant also received "Best Decor" prize for their sea shell theme.
Hilltop BBQ and Steakhouse took home third place for their unique smoked sausage and corn chowder.
Event organizers say about 300 people turned out in the gorgeous spring weather to sample the chowders and cast their votes.
The tradition started seven years ago during the Connecticut Audubon Society Eagle Festival
held in February. As an eagle-viewing stop in the festival, East Haddam attracted many people during this time, and according to Deb Mathiasen of the East Haddam Economic Development Commission
, the town wanted to make things a little more interesting for eagle viewers. Since Chester
, Conn already does a chili cook-off, according to Mathiasen, chowder seemed to be a good choice.
That first chowder cook-off attracted about 75 people, according to Mathiasen, and the event has been growing in popularity each year. The event has become such a tradition in town that some residents have even started collecting the mugs that tasters receive after placing their votes. Each year, a mug with a new design is offered to voters. This year, the mug features photographs of East Haddam’s landmarks the “swing” bridge
, Gillette Castle
and the Goodspeed Opera House
– photos that will also be featured on the town’s new municipal website. Sales of those commemorative mugs helped raise $1,000 for local charities.