UCSC Dining warms the crowd at Chowder Cook-Off

Redwood Sluggers Team: (l-r) Traci Takeuchi, Jamie Smith, Andrea Soria, and Deborah Alexander

Despite, or possibly because of, cool temperatures and a light drizzle, hundreds walked the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and sampled homemade clam chowder during the 26th Annual Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festival on Saturday, February 23. Two teams from UCSC Dining were among the competitors.

"While we did not win in our respective attempts to bring the People's Choice award back to it's rightful home here at UCSC Dining, we did win a lot of votes that should have counted double due to our location in the heart of the storm," said Jamie Smith, captain of the Redwood Sluggers, who dished up a tomato-y Manhattan style chowder.

A second team, led by Executive Chef Dwight Collins, furiously worked under the Chowder Slugs banner to cook up a Boston-style entry. Dubbed the "best educated chowder on the planet," this entry was unique for its sustainability--from safely harvested clams, to locally grown potatoes and onions, to organic cream.

In addition to Collins, the Chowder Slugs team included Bill Prime, Wade Garza, and Scott Berlin, director of Hospitality and Dining.

Campus teams brought home the People's Choice award in 2005 and 2006 but came up several votes short this year.

"Of course, winning is great for boasting about, but we really participate to support our local community and share some of our talent with those outside the campus" said Berlin.

The campus mascot, Sammy the Slug, made an appearance for the afternoon and entertained the crowds. This familiar mollusk has been spotted all over Santa Cruz lately. After national recognition by ESPN for being one of the top recognized mascots, Sammy has been sporting a wide grin (see Currents story).

The Clam Chowder Cook-Off is a fundraiser for the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department.