Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Chowderheads congregate at St. Pete Beach savory bash

ST. PETE BEACH — Gail Stotts didn't feel much like celebrating her 34th wedding anniversary Sunday with a cliché meal at an overpriced "fancy restaurant."

So she and husband Dennis decided to eat chowder in a park.

The Stotts drove from Seminole to the Pass-a-Grille historic district of this beach town to try the offerings of two dozen restaurants in the inaugural Chowder Challenge at Hurley Park.

Salmon chowder, corn chowder and plenty of the clam variety were available.

Dennis Stotts, a self-described "chowder junkie," hadn't picked a favorite shortly after the blue ribbon was cut in front of the basketball court where competitors arranged themselves in a circle of creamy goodness.

But he'd know his winner when he tasted it.

"Whatever the chowder is, it needs to be the high note. If it's clam, the strongest flavor should be clam," said Dennis, 62.

Gail, 59, had one automatic disqualifier: "No grit," she said, adding that a few offerings had already failed that test.

Organizers hoped to raise at least $5,000 to benefit the volunteer-run Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, said Spencer Lucas, president of the friends of the museum. Chili cook-offs are a dime a dozen. Chowder honored the beach culture's heritage and took a different angle, he said.

At least 500 tickets had sold by the time the Star-Spangled Banner was sung and a three-piece band played a steady procession of classic rock and party music.

Representatives of Boardwalk Pasta and Seafood were there, ladling seafood chowder into small plastic cups. Owner Paul Hains said his restaurant off of the Pinellas Bayway has a regular clientele, but he was hoping a win would attract customers.

But after hours of sampling, a three-judge panel that included Mayor Steve McFarlin bestowed the "Golden Ladle" for one year to St. Petersburg's Leverock's.

McFarlin said he prepared for his role with a "slight" breakfast and a "big swig of Pepto-Bismol."

Charlie Frago can be reached at or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago.

Chowderheads congregate at St. Pete Beach savory bash 11/10/13 [Last modified: Sunday, November 10, 2013 9:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hernando's assistant county administrator over public works resigns

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County has taken another hit in its public works operation with the resignation this week of Brian Malmberg, the assistant county administrator over several departments.

  2. Enjoy the felines, ancient ruins at Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary in Rome



    We had to be in the right spot. The GPS said so.

    The Area Sacra at Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome is the site of ancient ruins and the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. More than 140 cats call this area home. Some live in the indoor shelter.
  3. Bar review: Seminole Heights City Wine Bar in Tampa


    One of the best spots to grab a drink in Ybor is the Ybor City Wine Bar. It's easily the largest beer selection in Ybor despite being obviously wine-centric, and the extensive wine selection comes with a side of expert staff to help smartly walk you through a long and unusually formatted wine list that separates wines …

    Intermediate sommelier Drew Drotleff chats with guests at the Seminole Heights City Wine Bar. There’s a relaxed conviviality that makes enjoying wine all the better. The first City Wine Bar is in Ybor City.
  4. Nearly local craft beer of the week: Rome City IPA from Lakeland's Brew Hub

    Bars & Spirits

    As popular as the American IPA is, it's hardly surprising that it has been the canvas for many of the most prominent beer trends of the past few years: session IPA, New England-style IPA, sour IPA, single malt and single hop IPA — even coffee IPA.

    Brew Hub
  5. Ouch: Red Sox first pitch hits cameraman in the groin (w/video)


    Ceremonial first pitches at baseball games are often painful to watch, but this one turned out to be literally painful for a cameraman.