You can help send a child to camp this summer by sampling savory chowders and chilis at the Greater Derry Salvation Army Chili/Chowder Cook Off. In its second year, the cook-off will be held at MacGregor Park in Derry on Saturday, June 25, from noon to 3 p.m.
“I’m just hoping there is a good turnout to support what we’re doing and hopefully that it’s a nice day,” said Salvation Army Lieutenant Kiley Williams. Money raised from sample tickets, games and activities, including face-painting, sand art and a dunk tank, at the event will help the organization send local children to Salvation Army camp in Maine for a week this summer. Williams said she hopes $6,000 can be raised to send all 20 interested children.
Restaurants and individuals will participate in the cook-off, including Amphora and T-Bones in Derry and the Lobster Tail Restaurant in Windham. Participants will be able to choose whether they make chili or chowder and have an opportunity to create their own versions of their entries.
“They can make their chili spicy but it doesn’t have to be,” Williams said. “And they can make any kind of chowder — seafood, clam, corn — if they can make it up, then hey, why not?”
Board members and others connected to the Salvation Army will adjudicate the event. Awards will be given for the judges’ and people’s choices of both chili and chowder.
Peter Tsoupelis, owner of the Greek restaurant Amphora, said the only thing Greek about his chowder will be that his restaurant made it.
“Our chowder is a little more rustic than most,” he said. “It’s not going to be the glossy white commercial variety; it’s going to be like the way we try to prepare all of our foods, a ‘You don’t need to season it yourself’ type of thing.”
Amphora’s chili entry, Tsoupelis said, will in fact be done Greek-style but he kept mum on the secrets ingredients, though “one of them might be some chocolate,” he said.
Tsoupelis said participating in such events as the cook-off is a fun way to have people try dishes from his restaurant.
Trisha Kozdra, assistant kitchen manager at T-Bones, said the eatery would be presenting its clam chowder, made with fresh clams.
“Everybody loves it … it’s pretty much a standard clam chowder,” she said.
Mark Smith, owner of the Lobster Tail, said his restaurant, too, would be entering its “famous” clam chowder.
“I think what makes ours stand out is the fresh ingredients we use — fresh chopped clams, fresh potatoes, fresh onions, fresh everything, and everything is made from scratch,” he said. “We take pride in it and get tons of compliments on it all the time; I think it’s a pretty good one.”
Smith also noted the event as a good way to get to his restaurant’s name out there but called the cook-off a
“win-win for everybody.”
“We like to be active in the community, especially fundraisers and charities,” Smith said. “We do a lot of charity work anyway in the area and like to do anything that will help whatever cause it is.”