Danny Fitzpatrick, chef-owner of Fitzpatrickâ€™s Bar and Restaurant, Dundalk, has been crowned All Ireland Chowder Champion 2014 at the 4th All Ireland Chowder Cook-Off, sponsored by Clona which took place in Kinsale on Sunday, 13th April.
A record attendance of over 1000 people travelled to Actonâ€™s Hotel for the event which saw chefs from all over Ireland serve steaming pots of delicious chowder to ticket holders, who were also the judges of the event. Members of the public had only one vote to cast for the best of 32 chowders. On entry, everyone received a voting card that allowed them to sample all chowders from the individual stalls before casting their vote.
Competition among the chefs, who had travelled from all parts of Ireland seeking the title of All Ireland Chowder Champion, was intense. The chowders were many and diverse, with such variations as a roast red pepper base, queen scallops, lobster, smoked mackerel, mussels, clams, and hand-made ravioli. Crab crostini, seaweed scones and home-baked bread on the side provided a wide variety of tastes and textures. Visiting chefs revealed some of their trade secrets to MC Derek Davis during the event. But it was Fitzpatrickâ€™s seafood-rich chowder, presented under the banner â€œThe smallest county with the biggest chowderâ€ that won the most votes. This was especially rewarding for Danny, wife Dympna, and their team, as the Louth bar and restaurant had been voted into second place at the 2013 Chowder Cook-Off. Eugene Callaghan of Kellyâ€™s Resort Hotel, Co. Wexford, won second prize this year, and in third place was Ryanâ€™s Bar, Navan, Co. Meath, with Damien Clarke and his team.
Winner Danny Fitzpatrick received a customised trophy, and will travel to Newport, Rhode Island, USA, in June 2015 to represent Ireland in the Great Chowder Cook-Off, following in the footsteps of Noel Wallace of Bunratty Manor, Clare and John McGrath / Frank Walsh of the West Bar, Westport. The runners-up won weekend tickets to the Kinsale Gourmet Festival in October 2014, and a Kinsale landscape print.
The event was preceded by balloon modellers and face painting, and an appearance by the Kinsale Giant Chef, a firm favourite with the children. Later King K entertained the crowd, who lingered enjoying the buzz and the sun.
This was the final event in an action-packed weekend. Saturday saw the town transformed into an open-air food market on the theme â€œTaste the Wild Atlantic Wayâ€ supported by Kinsale Chamber of Tourism. This offered a range of food experiences, from beef rendang, to fish and chips, prawn & sweet potato fritters, chilli squid, mini cakes and chocolate mousse all for under â‚¬5. Liam Edwards, chairman of Kinsale Good Food Circle said, â€˜It is good to see so many visitors from overseas as well as from Ireland attending this hugely popular event. Kinsale is already benefitting from its key position on the newly launched Wild Atlantic Way, and we will continue to build on the townâ€™s prominence as a food loverâ€™s destination.â€™
Festival organiser Maria Oâ€™Mahony reports the next event on the calendar to be the Midsummers Lobster Madness on 21 June and the dates of the 38th Kinsale Gourmet Festival are 10 â€“ 12 October 2014 and tickets are available from www.kinsalerestaurants.com
Pictured in Kinsale at The 4th All Ireland Chowder Cook Off in Actons Hotel at the weekend was TV chef Martin Shanahan from Fishy Fishy with Janine Kennaghan and Aimee Hanlon from the overall winners Fitzpatrick's bar & Restaurant, Dundalk.
Picture. John Allen