July 22, 2017

On Tap repeats as Chowder Challenge champ

Court Webster, executive chef of On Tap Bar and Grill in Essex Junction, is congratulated by Williston Community Food Shelf President Cathy Michaels and Officer Travis Trybulski of the Williston Police Department after taking top honors among both the judges and the public in the traditional chowder category at the second annual Williston Chowder Challenge on Oct. 7. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The weather Sunday afternoon was damp and chilly, with a few raindrops falling from an overcast sky.

In other words, it was perfect chowder weather.

The second annual Williston Chowder Challenge saw more than 500 local residents gather on the Village Green to taste and vote on a dozen varieties of a food best enjoyed in the salty seaside air of a port of call.

The charity event, which benefited the Williston Community Food Shelf and the Williston Police Officers’ Association, was the brainchild of Officer Travis Trybulski, who formerly served as a patrol officer and unofficial chowder chef of the Sunapee (N.H.) Police Department.

“The (Sunapee Police) Benevolent Association was an entrant in the chowder challenge that they had down there, and that’s how I got the idea,” Trybulski said.

Twelve local eateries entered the 2012 Williston Chowder Challenge in two categories: traditional (New England-style, both clam and corn) and non-traditional (including Manhattan-style and more esoteric concoctions).

The 12 chowders—five traditional, seven non-traditional—were assessed on a per category basis by both a four-person panel of judges (which included Williston Observer publisher Paul Apfelbaum) and the general public.

The non-traditional category was a split decision, with the Judges’ Choice bestowed upon Williston-based Chef’s Corner and the People’s Choice going to Wooden Spoon Bistro, located in South Burlington.

The traditional chowder champion, on the other hand, was unanimous.

On Tap Bar and Grill, located near Five Corners in Essex Junction, took home both the judges’ and people’s honors—just as it did in 2011.

On Tap Executive Chef Court Webster, who assisted former top chef Aaron Epworth in last year’s chowder coup, said the winning recipe was the result of focusing on chowder fundamentals before adding more exotic seafood delicacies.

“I made about seven different chowders before I came to this one, and they were basic clam chowders, just so I could get the base flavor down before I put all the rest of it in,” Webster said. “This soup’s got lobster and scallops and shrimp and swordfish. I loaded it up with all the delicious seafood creatures there were.”

A sample of public opinion revealed that Webster’s sampling of flavors in the On Tap kitchen paid off.

“On Tap has nailed it,” said Williston Assistant Treasurer Sarah Mason, who scored it “10 out of 10.”

Mike Arena, a Burlington resident and employee of event sponsor KeyBank, had even more enthusiastic praise.

“On Tap Bar and Grill is the bomb,” Arena said. “It’s the best soup I’ve had in a long, long time.”

Following the awards ceremony, Williston Community Food Shelf President Cathy Michaels thanked the public for supporting the event.

“It helps the Food Shelf recoup after a difficult summer,” Michaels said. “We hope to do this for many years to come.”

Comments

  1. tcoletta says:

    almost 3 decades ago when williston started it’s development review process the public works section was pushing for a wider roadway typical for residential streets. The town adopted 30 ft widths vs 24ft. That’s 6/24 (30%) additional impervious area and runoff that needs to treated before flowing into ALLEN BROOK. The town and selectboard have indicated a lack of interest to reach out and help communties like mine that have had expired stormwater permits for more then a decade. Its always been a wait and see, well I see where this headed now.

Speak Your Mind