Seattle, WA 98101
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Tip: Get the sample order allows a little taste of each chowder.
I am frequently asked the question, 'How was the recipe for your Award-Winning Clam Chowder developed?' Here's the story:
In 1991, a business partner and I opened the Charlestown Street Cafe in West Seattle. It was a great little restaurant with an upbeat, loyal staff, and its popularity exceeded our wildest expectation. In a typical week, we served 4,500 customers in a space of only 125 seats.
When we opened, we decided to offer a 'Soup of the Day' as one of our Specials. Of course, the Friday special would be New England Clam Chowder. With that, I said, 'I have a good recipe that will work.' The Chef, with a little bravado, said that he had a chowder recipe that was probably better than mine. This inspired one of the cooks to chime in, 'It can't be better than the one my mama cooked every Friday.' This led to a kitchen rendition of 'anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better.'
The solution was obvious. Every Friday, a different version of clam chowder would be put to the test with our customers. They would have the final say. Naturally, we all thought ours was the best and each of us prepared a gloating acceptance speech.
What do you think happened?
Much to my chagrin, the winning recipe wasn't mine, nor was it the chef's. It was a briny, smooth-as-silk version concocted by one of our line cooks who, in turn, offered a dubious saga of sea-faring uncles and generations of grandmothers.
Since that 'friendly' competition in 1991, thanks to the vast array of fresh-picked vegetables and herbs at Seattle's Pike Place Market, we have continued to improve and upgrade our ingredients.
But, the basic recipe for our Hall-of-Fame New England Clam chowder remains the same to this day.
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