September 27, 2006
Big Clams And A Chowder Champ
You could cut the tension with a . . . um, clam rake?
"This is more pressure than running for supervisor," Bill McGintee joked as he raised a plastic shooter filled with chowder to his lips, kicking off the judging in the chowder contest. The competition was part of the East Hampton Town Trustees' annual "Largest Clam Contest" held Sunday afternoon on the grounds of their home base on Bluff Road in Amagansett.
It only drizzled a little, and the precipitation failed to dampen spirits around the chowder table. Judge Mary Fallon, a former town supervisor, began to cough as she took her first chowder shot. "That's not a good sign," an audience member joked. Fallon called for a plastic spoon, as the third judge Russell Drumm, an old salt who writes for some other paper, covered his rating sheet with his hand like a schoolboy afraid someone was copying his answers.
At the end of the riposte replete judging — Drumm hoped there was no spinach in any of the entries — Gail Webb of Montauk emerged the victor. Her chowder won first place. According to the winning chef, her secret strategy is running ingredients through the food processor to bring out the most flavor.
But before the chowder champ was named, a second trio of judges helmed the largest clam contest. Contestants — adults and juniors — submitted catches from local harbors.
Judges Stuart Vorpahl, Bill Taylor and John Aldred weighed and measured each clam.
Ronnie Jacobs won the Accabonac Harbor division by default as the only entrant.
A tie in the Three Mile Harbor division forced additional measurements. Two contestants submitted clams that weighed 1.5 pounds, but Albert Lester's catch won once length and width figures were totted up.
The biggest big clam winner was Cathy Fromm from Amagansett. She pulled in a 2.4-pound monster from Napeague Harbor to win the contest for the third time in her clamming career. In the junior division Andrew Ceslow's 2.2-pounder took top honors. He hails from Lazy Point.