Run, and Then Crawl, to Port Jefferson’s Annual Chowder Fest

By Mckenzie Post

Get your crackers ready because the highly anticipated Oktober Harvest Fest Chowder Crawl is back for another year in Port Jefferson.

The event, scheduled to take place on October 21st, from 12-3pm, brings together some of the area’s most talented chefs to showcase their chowder-making skills.

Check our event listing for the 2023 Port Jefferson Chowder Crawl to get more details!

 A total of 14 locations will be participating in the competition, all vying for the coveted title of best clam chowder. The participating restaurants include popular local favorites such as Gourmet Burger Bistro and Pasta Pasta. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample the different varieties of chowder on offer and vote for their top three favorites. The festival promises to be a great way to celebrate the arrival of fall, with visitors enjoying the beautiful scenery and festive spirit around the village. 

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce is organizing the event.

“The festival has been going on for around 10 years,” said Chamber Director of Operations Barbara Ransome.

She said that the definition of chowder for this festival is fluid.

“Each restaurant can pick what dish they would like to showcase– chowder is anything with potatoes in it, not necessarily seafood, so there is a lot of variety,” she said.

The decade-old festival is also getting an update.

“We have introduced QR codes to make voting easier for the best chowder,” said Ransome. 

Ransome listed PJ Lobster House and Revival by Toast as restaurants that stood out to her, along with the new restaurant Castaways Steak and Seafood which is scheduled to open in late October.

Also among the participating restaurants is Torte Jefferson, whose owner, Lisa Harris, shared some insights on the competition. 

“It’s always fun to participate in the Chowder crawl,” said Harris. “We love seeing attendees coming back year after year to taste the amazing chowders made by our local restaurants.”

Although Port Jefferson village is kind of quaint, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a desire to win.

“While the event is competitive it’s a friendly competition and everyone brings their ‘A’ game to the crawl,” she said.

Torte Jefferson has participated in every crawl Port Jefferson village has organized and Harris says they look forward to it each year.

And what’s the recipe for winning?

We are a gourmet bakery, so we always try to incorporate that theme into our contribution to the crawl,” said Harris. “We usually include a special ingredient that can be tied into some of our most popular offerings, for example last year, for the Mac and Cheese crawl we made a hard apple cider Mac and cheese with some of the ingredients featured in our very popular apple pies. Our secret to every competition we enter is to put our heart and soul into it!”

There is still time to get tickets but they will go fast, according to Ransome.

“In previous years the event has sold out,” she said. “This year we have 300 tickets with 50 sold already.”

The Oktober Harvest Fest Chowder Crawl is a must for food lovers and those who wish to experience the local culinary traditions. If you’re in the area, mark your calendar, grab a ticket, and come out to try some of the best chowders around. 

Oh, and don’t forget the crackers.

Mckenzie Post is a reporter with The SBU Media Group, part of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism’s Working Newsroom program for students and local media.

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