SARATOGA SPRINGS – Sure, Saratoga is known for its history, horses and health.
However, Chowderfest is up there too. The festival, slated for Saturday, has been going on for 24 years and attracts between 30,000-40,000 chowder-eaters each year.
“Our chefs in Saratoga really take their chowder seriously,” said Darryl Leggieri, the president of Discover Saratoga, which organizes the festival.
“There are so many creative recipes that are being listed. There’s something for everyone,” he added.
Indeed, there are 82 participating eateries on the docket, some serving up comfort food classics like wood-fired shrimp creole (Seneca Restaurant) or mac n’ cheese chowder (Simply Food by Maura). Others are staying on the sweeter side with recipes like Phish Food ice cream “chowder” from Ben & Jerry’s and Nutella mousse crunch from Sweet Mimi’s Cafe & Bakery.
Kelly Groff, the owner of The Broadway Grind, is serving up a recipe her family loves: roasted poblano corn chowder.
“It’s a mild spice. Pablano is not a very spicy pepper but once you roast it, it definitely brings out a good kick, but it’s not overwhelming,” Groff said.
While she’s enjoyed attending Chowderfest in previous years, Saturday will mark the first time she’s participated as a chef.
“I’m excited to be on that side of it,” Groff said.
The Saratoga resident had previously run a bakery just outside of the town but when space opened up on Broadway, she leaped at the chance.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to open on Broadway,” Groff said.
With Broadway Grind, which she opened last May, she also shifted her focus to coffee and breakfast, including burritos and croissant sandwiches. There’s also lunch fare as well.
“My whole thought on my menu was quick lunch break items. When people come in on their lunch break, they want to eat quickly; in and out within 30 minutes and head back to work. It seems to work very well,” Groff said.
The space is cozy, with people coming in to get work done or meet up with friends.
“We’re on the end of Broadway that isn’t super busy,” Groff said. “That’s something I think people like when they come in and work especially. It’s just a cozy place.”
Saturday, in all likelihood, won’t be quite so quiet. Groff was planning on making hundreds of servings of her chowder and was still playing around with exactly the quantity when The Gazette spoke with her earlier this week.
“My fear is running out of chowder. I don’t want to run out. I’d rather have too much,” Groff said.
Her plan is to prep as much as possible on Friday and get an early start cooking on Saturday morning.
Broadway Grind is one of a small group of new stops on the Chowderfest.
“We have a lot of our perennial favorites coming back again with a small group of new restaurants that are excited to participate as well,” Leggieri said. “A lot of the vendors come back year after year because it’s a lot of fun and it provides a nice shot in the arm revenue-wise for all of the restaurants during the slower time of the year.”
Each sample is 4 ounces and comes in at $2. Festivalgoers can vote on their favorites and there will be an award ceremony at the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center at 6:30 p.m.
This year’s Chowderfest logo, designed by Mark Jewell, features two figures lifting up cups of chowder outside of 9 Maple. It honors artist Hud Armstrong, a longtime Saratogian who designed all the previous logos for the festival since it started in 1999. Armstrong, who also worked at 9 Maple, died last May and his likeness is featured in a cloud seen in the logo.
“So our logo this year is honoring Hud Armstrong and we think it’s very fitting,” Leggieri said.
T-shirts sporting the logo are on sale at the visitor center.
Here are a few other festival highlights:
- It runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
- There will be a free shuttle service running from the Saratoga Casino Hotel to Congress Park from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Vote for your favorite chowder online at discoversaratoga.org
- For the full list of participating restaurants visit discoversaratoga.org.
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Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Saratoga Springs