Chef Darren MacLean of downtownfood takes home Calgary's 2013 Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Championship

CALGARY, A.B. – Brandishing their “weapons” of choice – including ladles, spoons and pots – 11 top Ocean Wise chefs from the Alberta region joined the sustainable seafood movement this evening. They presented their best ocean-friendly seafood chowders, paired with craft beer, at the first-ever 2013 Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown in Calgary. 

The evening’s victor was Chef Darren MacLean of downtownfood, who was crowned the 2013 Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion. Not to be outdone, CRAFT Beer Market won Best Chowder and Beer Pairing and Chef Rebecca House of Thomsons Restaurant at Hyatt Regency Calgary was chosen by over 200 guests as the winner of the People’s Choice award. 

Chef Darren MacLean impressed the judges’ panel with his intriguing recipe for dtf Modern Chowder, which was inspired by Cambodian fish amok. The unique chowder featured bright flavours of galangal, red chiles and lime, balanced with the sweetness of Ocean Wise humpback prawn. Coconut milk provided a lovely richness and dense, white-flesh fish provided body and texture.

Meanwhile, Chef Rebecca House won over the crowds with her mouth-watering Seafood Chower with a Smoked Tomato, Crab and Potato Cake, Ocean Wise Smoked Salmon and Crispy Kale Chips chowder. Classic flavours of wine, cream and Ocean Wise clam juice were kissed with smokey cherry tomatoes and topped with an irresistible crab and potato cake. 

It’s no surprise that CRAFT Beer Market won the award for the best chowder and craft beer pairing with its Ocean Wise Grey Cod, Chorizo and Chicharon Chowder paired with a casked Scottish Heavy Ale by Big Rock Brewery.

“We’re very grateful for the immense support of our Ocean Wise partners in Alberta who have come out to celebrate our vital conservation program and help raise awareness about overfishing, the biggest threat our oceans face today,” said Teddie Geach, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Western Canada representative. “This annual initiative beautifully demonstrates how the sustainable seafood movement is strengthened by the commitment of those who work with, and enjoy, seafood – chefs, suppliers, producers, and consumers, among others. Our warm thanks are shared with our partners, participants and guests for their overwhelming support.”

This year’s first Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown in Calgary showcased 11 top Ocean Wise chefs who joined the sustainable seafood movement by competing head to head in this friendly competition with their original, ocean-friendly seafood chowders, paired with craft beer. The diverse ingredients of the chowders ran the spectrum, from Ocean Wise lobster and corn balanced with smokey oyster and sea urchin bottarga to Ocean Wise humpback prawns with butternut pumpkin. A list of participating chefs and their bios can be found here.

This year’s panel of distinguished judges included:

  • Michael Allemeier l Chef and Instructor at SAIT
  • Rick Therrien l Albion Fisheries
  • John Gilchrist l Food Journalist
  • Dan Clapson l Food Journalist

During Ocean Wise month in November, consumers are invited to join the sustainable seafood movement by eating ocean-friendly seafood to keep our oceans healthy. Look for the Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item for the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice.

This year’s Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown in Calgary was made possible with the support of Hyatt Regency Calgary, Shell Canada Limited and Albion Fisheries. Our thanks are also shared with media partners Calgary is Awesome and XL103.1 FM as well as our passionate media friends who brought their appetites to support our fundraising event.

Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise™
Overfishing is the single biggest threat our oceans face today. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. With over 3,100 Ocean Wise partner locations across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. www.oceanwise.ca 

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Media contact:

Danielle Finney
Communications Advisor
Vancouver Aquarium
Danielle.Finney@vanaqua.org
d. 604 659 3752
c. 604 652 4073

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