Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 • 2nd annual Westwood Chamber Chowder Cook-off scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 15

Chowder, and other thick, hearty soups, partner well with snowy winters. When chowder is eaten around a warm fire pit with neighbors the activity is even more inviting.

Spur of the Moment, plays bluegrass during the 2010 Westwood Chowder Cook-off entertaining the crowd while they taste the soups

That is why the Westwood Chamber of Commerce is hosting its second annual Chowder Cook-off from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Lassen County Visitor Center, Westwood Station. Tasting kits are $5 and include a sourdough bread bowl that can be filled with a favorite chowder for a hardy lunch.

Bridgett Bustamante, Westwood Chamber president, said chowder entry forms are available at Young’s Supermarket and Always Sunny Tanning and Nails in Westwood and Holiday Market in Chester. The entry fee is $20 and contestants can signup the morning of the event. However, the chowder must be prepared on the premises.

Contestants compete for the “Best Chowder” trophy, “The People’s Choice” award and best decorated booth. The judges select the best chowder via a blind tasting.

Westwood residents Ed Young and Kippy Mayne sample soups from portable chairs and a table they brought to the 2010 Westwood Chamber Chowder Cook-off.

The Westwood Chamber will sell barbecue oysters and a variety of beverages to accompany the chowder.

As usual, the event is a community affair. The Camp Fire Girls will sell cotton candy and popcorn and Westwood High AVID students will provide S’mores around the fire pits.  The Westwood Family Resource Center will set up a bounce house for children.

In addition, there will be live music to entertain the crowd throughout the event.      Bustamante said she is working out the details with a band. Last year a bluegrass band called Spur of the Moment provided the entertainment for the event, which drew a crowd of about 300 people.

At the 2010 event Pirates’ Booty took home the trophy for best chowder and best booth as well. Gretchen Sarmento and Michael Scalmanini and a team of assistant cooks wearing pirate’s hats were sponsored by Holiday Market in Chester.

Kim Flores and Terry Johnson prepare a hardy chowder during the Jan. 2010 competition. The 2nd Annual Westwood Chamber Chowder Cook-off is Saturday, Jan. 15.

Those attending the cook-off also voted for their favorite team and the People’s Choice Award went to Mississippi Crab Crew, a family that prepared a chowder recipe Chester resident Emily Rice had perfected.

The Westwood Chamber Chowder Cook-off will take place rain, snow or shine.