Wednesday, April 02, 2008

USS Nevada sailors take 3rd in joint chowder cook-off

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/NAC) Eric J. Rowley, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Det. Northwest

LAKEWOOD, Wash. (NNS) (April 2, 2008) -- USS Nevada (SSBN 733) culinary specialists competed in a clam chowder cook-off at McChord Air Force Base's Olympic Dinning Facility, March 27-28.

Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SS) Larry Westerfield and Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SS) Chris Stehr took third place out of nine two-person teams in the 3rd Annual Northwest Clam Chowder Cook-off.

"I liked this event," said Westerfield. "It was a good way to show who was better for the bragging rights. It was a good competition and I would definitely do it again. Overall it was awesome."

The nine teams, representing Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, competed in their chowder cooking abilities within a two-hour time limit. An Army team took first place and a Coastguardsmen team took 2nd.

"It was a fun competition," said Stehr. "I like being able to compete against other branches of service to see what kind of training they get. I learned the Army has really good garnishing abilities."

The first day was an orientation day where the participants were able to learn a little bit about the history and origin of clam chowder and they discovered potatoes weren't added to the until the 1800s.

Westerfield and Stehr started making their chowder by making sure all their ingredients were ready to go for their Boston style clam chowder. Then they started sautéing the vegetables in garlic and sherry. Once sautéed, they added flour to make the rue and cooked it until it was a golden brown color to make sure it had a little bit of a nutty flavor.

"We went for a more traditional style of clam chowder," said Stehr. "We wanted to stay away from a lot of the pre-made products and make the chowder from scratch. We used fresh shallots, new potatoes, garlic, truffle-infused oil, cooking sherry, sea clams and Sicilian sea salt. It was all from scratch to make a more natural flavor."

Once the mix was a golden brown they added the whipping cream, clam juice, clams and potatoes then let it simmer until all the flavors melded together. Then they added the heavy cream, then more simmering until it was time to present the dish to the judges.

"The judges said it was a pretty close competition point-wise," said Westerfield. "We were judged on color, texture, aroma and presentation. I really enjoyed our soup when it was done."

All of the participants received continuing education credits used for a degree in culinary arts.


  1. Clam chowder is yummy. Do you have a favorite recipe using canned clams? Have you ever tried making a chowder using fish, such as mountain trout? Once upon a time, many years ago, when I backpacked a lot, I had a couple of trout I browned in butter, then removed from the pan and boiled up a few diced vegies (celery, onions, potatoes, garlic in the same pan). When the vegies were done, I added back the trout meat and we had the tastiest, lightest, fish chowder.

  2. Thanks, zhakee. Like you, I backpacked a lot in my youth. We always reserved the golden trout we caught for fork and plate. I have a couple clam chowder recipes on the blog, all with canned clams. I'll also look and post another one soon.