UC Dining takes top honors in Boardwalk Clam Chowder Cook-Off

UC Dining chowder cooks
UC Santa Cruz Dining clam chowder cook-off team members, from left, Dwight Collins, Mike Kraus, Jamie Holmes, Vince Franco; kneeling is Scott Berlin.

Redwood Sluggers, a clam chowder cooking team from UC Santa Cruz Dining, took top honors Saturday, February 22 at the 33rd Annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off, at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The Sluggers won both the Judge’s Selection and the People’s Choice awards in the professional Manhattan category with its adaptation of the classic Rhode Island Red. The chefs used fresh fennel, roasted red pepper, and chili flake for a punch, but the knock out came from a preserved myer lemon and thai basil gremolata (a chopped herb condiment typically made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley).

The Redwood Sluggers were led by James Holmes, captain and production chef-manager, along with new catering chef Vince Franco, and chef-production manager Michael Kraus.  All were first-timers in the Clam Chowder Cook-Off.

The Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festival has raised more than $1 million for City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department programs since it started in 1981.

UCSC Dining also entered a team in the professional Boston (white) category, the Chowder Slugs, led by Dwight Collins, captain and executive chef, Scott Berlin, director, and Bill Prime, acting director.  Unit Manager Peter Curry, and Sarah Candelaria, Terra Fresca cook, both first-timers, also participated.

Traci Takeuchi and the UCSC Dining catering team took care of set up and break down for both teams.

Tastes and recipes of both teams' chowders will be available at campus dining halls soon. Watch the UCSC Dining website (dining.ucsc.edu) for upcoming dates.