Clam Chowder

Grandma’s Famous Clam Chowder Wins The Blue Ribbon!

WOW!  What an amazing day at the 6th Annual Razor Clam Festival in Ocean Shores, WA.  I cannot tell you how great it feels to win 1st place with Grandma’s Famous Clam Chowder.

I’m sorry it took a week to put up this post, but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around all of the thoughts and emotions leading up to and including the event.

It’s Been A Long Year

Not to belabor the point, but I have had a very rough year since we lost our restaurant.  Not only did I lose part of my business, I also lost thousands of relationships and a career that I am passionate about.  I know that it is only temporary, but it feels like it is dragging on.

I miss going to work and having a great time with my co-workers and guests in the dining room.  I miss talking to my friends and catching up on what has been happening in their lives since their last visit.  Almost daily I look at the empty grass on the bluff where my restaurant should be and I remember so many great times I had, laughing, serving, entertaining, connecting.  I think about how I can’t wait to have that again.

It Almost Didn’t Happen

When we had the fire, as we were watching the restaurant burn, we knew it was going to take at least a year to get back up and running.  My beautiful wife Sara and I were already discussing how we could participate in the Chocolate Festival, Razor Clam Festival, Taste Washington, etc…

In February, we weren’t able to put on our Annual Wine and Chocolate Party for the Chocolate Festival, but we did get to participate as judges and performing Chef Demos.  Our Executive Chef, Andrew Bickar, did a Chef Demo on Saturday and Sara and I did a Chef Demo on Sunday.

 Clam ChowderAs we were on the Razor Clam Festival Planning Committee, people kept asking Sara and me if we were going to participate.  Actually, they were telling us that they wanted Ocean Crest Resort to participate.  We talked about all of the logistical difficulties involved with trying to participate in a food centric event that serves the public when we didn’t have a commercial kitchen, but we also NEEDED to participate.  I’m not sure exactly how to say it, but serving our guests is a way of life for us.  It is our passion and something that brings us immense happiness.

Anyway… since we knew that we had to participate we were left with trying to figure out HOW to participate.  We needed a commercial kitchen, we needed a place to have the supplies delivered, we needed the service equipment, and we needed to figure out how to make 15 gallons of Grandma’s Famous Clam Chowder without having left overs.


So the search was on for a commercial kitchen, without that we would have been dead in the water.  A special thank you goes out to George Lee and Cheryl Turner for making our participation possible.

The next step was getting the service equipment.  That was easily handled with a trip to a restaurant supply store in Tacoma.

Then it was on to ordering the ingredients.  Our food reps were able to handle most of the order, but it is not easy to find Carnation Evaporated Milk in #10 cans.  We thought we might have to look for a plan B, but we were able to get the milk at United Grocers.

Preparing the clam chowder base was… I’m not sure what word I’m looking for.  I had to modify the recipe slightly in order to not have left overs and get as close to the original as possible.  Sara and I were laboring away in the kitchen and then it hit me, that familiar smell  of chowder base cooking.  It was a smell that I didn’t even know I missed.  It brought back many great memories of walking through the kitchen of the restaurant.  They say that our memories are more closely linked to our sense of smell than any of our other senses, and my memories were washing over me like a tidal wave.  It was wonderful.

Now I’m going to let you in on a little known fact.  In 1956 there was a ship named The Seagate that ran aground just North of Moclips.  When the owner of the vessel abandoned the ship my grandfather took my uncles out to the ship in a little boat.  They boarded the vessel and salvaged various pots and pans and cooking utensils.  Grandmas Famous Clam Chowder had been prepared in those pots for over 50 years before the fire.  During demolition we were able to recover those pots and they cleaned up perfectly.  I was able to use those same pots to prepare Grandmas Famous Clam Chowder last week.  It may seem like a small thing to some of you reading this, but to me it was a very significant detail… for tradition.

In Closing

Serving Grandma’s Famous Clam Chowder to a crowded convention center was exactly what we needed, Thank You.

 Clam Chowder
Courtesy of The Denver Post 02/07/2010-See link below

Grandma’s Famous Clam Chowder has received great recognition over the years, published in the Ford Times in 1989, awarded “9 out of 10 Clam Shells” by the Seattle Times Travel Editor, and raved about by Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Ohno in the Denver Post “The Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips ( has a great restaurant. Whenever I go there, I have to have the spinach salad and Grandma’s Famous Clam Chowder. It’s fantastic. Unbelievable!”

While winning 1st Place would be great any year, this year it means a lot more.  Faced with all of the pain, heartache and difficulty of the last year, we overcame every obstacle.  We don’t have a new restaurant yet… but we don’t know how to give up.

Read more:Getting up to speed on Seattle, Salt Lake City and Japan – The Denver Post
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