The second annual Santa Barbara Chowder Fest, a benefit for the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, attracted more than 400 hungry guests to the Montecito Country Club on Sunday, with the cloudy afternoon a perfect backdrop for sampling soup.
Guests enjoyed more than their fill at 30 booths with purveyors who ladled both “creative chowder” and its more common sister, clam chowder. Professional judges and People’s Choice awards were presented to the top chowders at the end of the afternoon.
Proceeds benefited the Legal Aid Foundation and its mission to provide high-quality legal services to ensure that low-income persons and seniors have access to the civil justice system in times of crisis, and to secure safe, habitable shelter, adequate income and protection from domestic violence and elder abuse.
From the stage, board president Gary Tetalman thanked the assembled guests for attending and recognized sponsors for “helping to keep victims of domestic violence from harm’s way, preventing homelessness, and helping seniors to live with dignity and independence.”
“It is very important to make sure that those unable to afford private legal help are able to air their problems in a professional environment,” said Barbara Tzar, a Goleta businesswoman and immediate past president of the board. “I am personally motivated by my aunt, who was an attorney kicked out of Nazi Germany. She moved to America and became a probate attorney in Chicago. She tirelessly took on the task of representing the underprivileged. In a small way, I want to carry on her legacy here at the Legal Aid Foundation.”
Along with generous caterers and restaurants, vintners and breweries contributed to the fest, including Brander, Buttonwood, Silver, Coquelicot, Kalyra, Lucas & Lewellen, Whitcraft, Seawind, Oreana and Giessinger.
Event chairwoman and Legal Aid development director Niki Chopra Richardson arranged a silent auction that was generously bid on by supporters and board members, including Barbara Tzar, Allan Ghitterman, Lynn Goebel and Saji Dias Gunawardane. Tim Trager of Hill & Trager law offices won the major raffle prize and walked off with 52 bottles of wine.
Adding to the fun were celebrity judges Michael Cervin, Chef William Bloxsom-Carter (executive chef of Playboy Mansion West) and Chef Edie Robertson, who awarded the Overall Chowder Champ award to Y’s Foods of Napa Valley. Attendees voted to give the People’s Choice Award to Arch Rock Fish.
For the top clam chowders, first place was awarded to Useless Bay Seafoods, second place to Marmalade Cafe and third place to Lazy Acres. For the best creative chowders, first place went to Y’s Foods Napa, second place to the Boathouse Restaurant and third place to the Museum Cafe.
Chowder purveyors also included Harold Welch’s World Cuisine, Whole Foods, Opal Restaurant, Palace Grill, Longboard’s Grill, Max’s Restaurant, Willows Restaurant, Enterprise Fish Co., Creekside Buffet, Greek House Cafe, Holdren’s, Mac’s Fish & Chips, Cafe del Sol and more.
At the end of the event, two ladies who had been sampling spirits and the rich chowders exclaimed, “We’re beached!”