CrabFest to host search for champion chowder

McDermott, Ranniger among celebrity chefs

PORT ANGELES — A year-long effort to find the quintessential Olympic Peninsula Chowder will culminate at this weekend’s Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival.

The 18th annual CrabFest — scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at City Pier and in the parking lot of the Red Lion Hotel at 221 Lincoln St. — will host this year Olympic Culinary Loop’s final chapter in finding and honoring the seafood chowder that best exemplifies the Olympic Peninsula.

“We’ve been slurping chowder all year long,” said Steve Shively, the Olympic Culinary Loop’s communications director, on Tuesday.

Regional taste-offs began in March in Penn Cove during the MusselFest and continued at Ocean Shores’ Razor Clam Festival, Brinnon’s Shrimpfest, Port Townsend and Port Angeles’ farmers market and Allyn’s Salmon Bake and Geoduck Festival.

The judging of the champion chowder will be at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, after the 7th annual Chowder Cook-Off fundraiser for the Captain Joseph House Foundation, which will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Both will be in the The Gateway transit center at the intersection of Lincoln at Front streets.

“No longer will the Pacific Northwest-minded foodies be limited in their ordering to chowders named ‘New England,’ ‘Manhattan,’ or seafood Cioppino hailing from San Francisco, or to Jambalaya influenced by Louisiana,” Olympic Culinary Loop said on its website at www.olympicculinaryloop.com/eat.

“Once crowned, the winning Olympic Peninsula Chowder is destined to be on menus and taste buds from coast to coast,” the Loop said.

The chowder championship is one of many foodie events planned for CrabFest.

The main event is the crab dinner fest. More than eight tons of Dungeness crab pulled from local waters will be delivered to the plates of festivalgoers in the Crab Central tent all three days. The crab will be served with fresh corn and cole slaw.

Tickets for the full crab meal are $30 and can be purchased in advance at landing.crabfestival.org. Military personnel with current active ID will pay $26 for a special crab dinner all weekend and receive 10 percent off on merchandise.

Inside Crab Central will be other restaurant booths, adult beverages and live music.

On the pier— where food and goods booths will be set up — visitors can buy cooked and cleaned Dungeness crab to go.

Nine celebrated Northwest chefs will demonstrate cooking on the Gateway Center Chef Demonstration Stage from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 11:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Sunday.

Featured chefs include pie maker and author Kate McDermott of Port Angeles, who will offer a demonstration at 1 p.m. Saturday, and “Wild” Bill Ranniger, corporate executive chef for Duke’s Chowder Houses, of Seattle, who will open the stage at 11:30 a.m. Saturday to reveal the secrets of creating Tempting Thai Ginger Cod in a Coconut Milk Broth and return again at 11:30 a.m. Sunday to prepare Pan-Seared Wild Alaska Salmon on Duke’s Ty Cobb Salad.

McDermott’s cookbook, “Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life,” was nominated for a 2017 James Beard Award in Baking and Desserts. In 2018, she released her second cookbook, “Home Cooking.”

McDermott has been featured in USA Today, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bon Appetite, as well as on NPR, The Splendid Table and other media outlets.

McDermott will sign copies of both her books after her Saturday presentation.

Ranniger began his tenure with Duke’s as a chef in 1995, then rose through the ranks from general manager to regional manager to executive chef, a position he has held for the past 15 years.

With restaurateur Duke Moscrip, Ranninger co-authored the 2016 cookbook, “As Wild As It Gets … Duke’s Secret Sustainable Seafood Recipes.”

Here is the chef demonstration line-up.

Saturday

• 11 a.m. — Tempting Thai Ginger Cod in a Coconut Milk Broth by Ranniger.

• Noon — Fresh Halibut with a Barley and Butternut Squash Accompanied by Swiss Chard by Eileen Skidmore, chef/deli manager of Aldrich’s Market in Port Townsend.

• 1 p.m. — Fruit-filled Crostatas by McDermott.

• 3 p.m. — Savory Pancakes with Crab & Crab Designs by Nathan Shields, chief creative artist of

SaiPancakes, Port Angeles.

• 4 p.m. — Open-Face Cheesy Crab and Biscuit Melt & Lake Crescent Signature Crab Cobb Salad by Joshua Diehl, executive chef Olympic Peninsula Dining Room, Lake Crescent Lodge, Port Angeles.

• 5 p.m. — Seafood Pad Thai & Seaweed Sesame Ramen by Steve Corso, chef and founder of MONTyBOCA, Seattle

Sunday

• 11:30 a.m. — Pan-Seared Wild Alaska Salmon on Duke’s Ty Cobb Salad by Ranniger.

• 12:45 p.m. — Dungeness Crab-Stuffed Prawns with Roasted Tomato Pesto & Authentic Jamestown S’Kllalam Tribal Fry Bread by Larry Smithson, executive chef-director of food and beverage at Seven House of Seven Brothers, Sequim.

• 1:45 p.m. — The Best-Ever Crab Cakes Featuring Dungeness Crab by Troy Murrell, executive chef at Spirits Bar & Grill at the Old Alcohol Plant Inn, Port Hadlock.

• 2:45 p.m. — Razor Clam Fritter, Po’ Boys with Cilantro & Lime by Ron Wisner, executive chef at

Ocean Crest Resort, Moclips.

For more information, see landing.crabfestival.org, email [email protected] or call 360-452-6300.

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