Stirring the pot

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

NEWPORT, R.I. - This year’s Newport Yachting Center’s 29th annual Knorr Great Chowder Cook-Off will include an entry from the Last Frontier: Juneau’s own Tracy LaBarge, of Tracy’s King Crab Shack.

The chef and her restaurant will be competing in the “Best Seafood” category, submitting its signature soup, Tracy’s King Crab Bisque.

“I know Tracy’s is up for it, but they’ll have their hands full competing against several past winners,” said Mike Martin of the Newport Yachting Center. 

He said the competition will include about 20 participants, including 2009 winners Blue Mermaid Chowder House & Bar in San Francisco; Tony’s Cedar Key Clam Chowder in Florida; and Michael’s Seafood in North Carolina.” 

The event features all-you-can-eat “chowda” from the nation’s best chefs who serve samples of their sumptuous creations to thousands of chowder-loving festival attendees, who also act as judges.

For the competition, each chef prepares 100 gallons of chowder for the festival attendees, who will taste and rate the entries throughout the day. Tracy said that her plan is to prepare the base of the soup before she leaves Juneau and that she’ll add the cream and milk to the mix once she arrives.

At the competition, she’ll be competing in the Best Seafood chowder category with her signature Crab Bisque. The other two categories are “Best Clam” and “Best Creative.”

Prize money will be awarded to the top three winners in each category, with first place winners receiving $1,000. The contest will also be televised on the Food Network.

Asked about her chances at the competition, Tracy said she is feeling confident.

“Of course, it is the land of chowder over there,” she said, “so you never know.”

Tracy’s has garnered quite a name for itself since it opened in 2005. Its downtown location has made it an extremely popular destination for tourists arriving on the cruise ships, as online reviews from Yelp — a database of online business reviews — can attest. 

“This is the hidden gem of Alaska. The Crab Bisque is to die for!” wrote Sam W., from Gardena, Calif.

Stephanie H. of San Lorenzo, Calif. agreed. “YUMMM !! Huge Crab Legs + Crab Bisque = happiness in Alaska !!.”

The cook-off is scheduled for June 5 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information can be found at www.newportwaterfrontevents.com.

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