In what has become one of the highlights of the winter season on the South Shore, The Snapper Inn graciously hosted the 21st annual Long Island Chowder Contest with sweeping views of the Connetquot River as a backdrop.
For the second year in a row, Snapper Inn’s main dining room was transformed into an expansive tasting venue with plenty of room for patrons to line up comfortably, cups and spoons in hand, prepared to sample the lobster and seafood bisques, New England and Manhattan clam chowders, and crab and corn chowders.
“So many more people attend each year, we had to use our largest dining room to accommodate everyone,” said one of the Snapper Inn’s managers.
Every restaurant was a winner in one category or another. My favorites were, first and foremost, Snapper Inn’s lobster bisque with a distinctive rich texture and pure lobster flavor. I was not alone in choosing The Oar’s crab and corn chowder. Ashley and her dad, Tino Pattigno, as well as her boyfriend, Mike Brant, agreed with me: it had notes of Italian spices and was full of fresh crab. The American Cheese shop made a substantial showing with tasty entries in all three categories, including my favorite, their Block Island clam chowder, broth-based, no cream, much lighter and full of natural flavors.
The judges, including Carl Lebue representing the Great South Bay Nature Conservancy, which benefits from the day’s donations; Timothy Huss, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation; and Steve Kuhn, a commercial clammer on the Great South Bay for more than half a century, chose as first place winners: The Oar of Patchogue in the Manhattan clam chowder category; New England clam chowder winners, The Cull House, Sayville, and American Cheese, Sayville tied; American Cheese also won in the bisque category and the wild card with their Block Island chowder.
The exciting and frenzied afternoon ended at 2 p.m. with friends, neighbors and newcomers staying to chat and lounging over cocktails in the smaller dining areas in a relaxed atmosphere, while Snapper’s amazing staff efficiently returned the main dining area back to normal.