It was chowder on at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, first time host for the delicious annual Chowder Fest event, where attendees tasted and voted on the best chowder for the people’s choice award. The Annual event is presented each year by Food & Home Magazine to benefit Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County. Jennifer R. Smith, Executive Director of Legal Aid Foundation was graciously greeting guests as they arrived, and I enjoyed speaking with Greg Gorga, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum during the event.
The patio of the Maritime Museum was one fun filled venue where guests enjoyed the musical entertainment of Spencer and the Gardner while sipping wine and chowder between visits to the elegant silent auction area where an impressive collection of auction items were open for bidding, including a chance to attend Rod Stewart’s concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. My favorite auction items included a box of Chocolate du Cali Bressan with a fine rose wine, and a weekend in Las Vegas.

Chumash Casino Corn Chowder with Corn Bread

The museum was over flowing with charitable supporters, LAFSBC members, local guests and enthusiastic ‘foodies’ all enjoying gourmet and down-home style chowders. A few welcome change was the Shepherd’s Pie Paul Dargan brought over from Dargan’s Irish Pub and amazing street style Mexican food by Taqueria El Pastorcito for guest consumption, as well as individual strawberry shortcakes from Andersen’s Danish Bakery & Restaurant. The variety of food and wine at this event was absolutely awe inspiring.
2018 Winners: The Best Chowder First Place Award went to Paul & Kathy Shield of Savoy Cafe & Deli, while Estaban Carrillo and Charlie Rios of Crocodile Restaurant won the People’s Choice Award and also were the 1st runner up for Judges Choice. The 2018 Contenders included Bluewater Grill, Chase Restaurant & Bar, Chef Alison Catering, Chumash Casino, Crocodile, Crush, Enterprise Fish Co, The Nugget, The Oyster Tin, Savoy Deli, The Secret Ingredient/Cafe154 and Whole Foods.

Crocodile Winning Representatives Charlie Rios & Estaban Carrillo

Past Chowder Fest best winners include The Boathouse, Y’s Foods, Outback Steakhouse, Chuck’s Waterfront Grill, Three Pickles, Four Seasons Biltmore, and The Nugget. A special tribute honoring Bob Lovejoy owner of Three Pickles Restaurant and 2017 Chowder Fest winner, who passed away this year, as well as Allan Ghitterman, Board Member of Legal Aid, who also passed away in 2018 appeared in the event program.
2018 Judges for the event included Chef Edie Robertson, former chef/co-owner of the Sojourner Cafe, and recognized as one of Santa Barbara’s best private chefs by Santa Barbara Magazine; Diana Cuttrell, Executive Chef/Owner at Dining With Di, the daughter of the owners of a successful steak house in Northern California she founded a catering company in Santa Barbara in 2009; Mark ad Margaret Huston, Owners of Jane Restaurant who met at the Culinary Academy in San Francisco, have a stellar career history in restaurant and food including work at San Ysidro Ranch and the Montecito Cafe, along with their current venues in Santa Barbara and Goleta known for delicious food, made from scratch at affordable prices; Kaity Swanson, Manager of Chuck’s Waterfront Grill & The Endless Summer bar-cafe has been with them for twelve years, and took home the “Best Chowder” award in 2013.

Savoy Cafe Winners Kathy & Paul Shields

Restaurants, wineries and breweries participating this year included Andersen’s Danish Bakery & Restaurant, The Brander Vineyard, The Brewhouse, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, California Wood Fired Catering, The Creekside Restaurant & Bar, Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, Deux Bakery, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Grassini Family Vineyards, Island Brewing Company, Kanoloa Seafood, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards, Oreana Winery, Pali Wine Company, Savoy Wines, Seagrape Wine Company, Stolpman Vineyards, Taqueria El Pastorcito, Telegraph Brewing Company, Temperance Cellars, Via Maestra 42, Whitcraft Winery.
Event sponsors included the Title Sponsors Fell, Marking, Abkin, Montgomery, Granet & Raney, LLP and Santa Barbara County Bar Association. Lobster Chowder Circle sponsors Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Clam Chowder Circle Sponsors Cappello & Noel LLP, Community West Bank, Foley, Bezek, Behle & Curtis LLP, Gursey Schneider LLP Reicker, Pfau, Pyle & McRoy LLP and Fish Chowder Circle Sponsors Ambrecht and McDermott LLP, Renee Fairbanks, Kelly Knight Real Estate, Bill and Susan Wagner, Wilson & Petine, LLC, and Vegetable Chowder Circle Sponsors American Riviera Bank, Alan and Carol Blakeboro, William L. F. Felstiner, Griffith and Thornburgh, LLP, Mission Wealth Management, Montecito Bank and Trust, Mulle and Henzell, Price, Postel & Parma LLP, Village Properties. Corn Chowder Circle Sponsors Anticouni and Associates, Bongiovi Mediation, Collins and Associates, Drury Pullen, A Prof. Law Corp., Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, Saji Gunawardane, US Business Counsel, Hebda Property and Title Solutions, Herring Law Group, Law Office of Harvey Wolf, Law Offices of Elizabeth E. Vogt, Law Offices of Moises Vasques, Montecito apital Management, Nicholson and Schwartz CPAs, Nordstrand Black, Plverman & Pulverman, LLP, Quinn Fiduciary Services, Judge Elinor Reiner, Rothschild and Alwill APC, Sierra Property Group, Thompson Naylor Architects.

Bluewater Grill Half & Half Chowder

About Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County: Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County has been providing free legal services since 1959. Many people are unaware that when factoring in cost of living, Santa Barbara County’s poverty rate is estimated to be 23% of all residents. Our vision is to ensure that everyone, regardless of their financial status, has habitable shelter, adequate income, and protection from domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse. Our attorneys and staff are trained to work with people who have little knowledge of our legal system, people with mental or physical disabilities, and people who speak languages other than English. For information visit
By Bonnie Carroll