The West is The Best… Kinsale Crowns The West Bar, Westport, Co. Mayo National Chowder Champion 2012

The West is The Best… Kinsale Crowns The West Bar, Westport, Co. Mayo National Chowder Champion 2012

The West Bar, Westport, Co. Mayo has been crowned National Chowder Champion 2012 following success at the 2nd Annual National Chowder Cook-Off which took place in Kinsale on Sunday 27th May.

Almost 800 people descended on the grounds of Acton’s Hotel in Kinsale for the event which saw chefs from all over Ireland serve up pots and pots of delicious creamy chowder. The competitors, made up of chefs, fishermen and commercial chowder producers travelled from all corners of Ireland to participate in the Cook-Off.

Members of the public were the judges in the highly anticipated contest, and on entry each received a voting card which allowed them to sample all chowders from the individual stalls and cast their vote to crown Ireland’s chowder champion 2012. In the end it was The West Bar’s special recipe that wowed the public’s palate, while The White Lady, Kinsale came a close second, followed by Mourne Seafood Bar from Belfast representing Co. Antrim, in third place.

Frank Walsh, co-owner of The West Bar, attributed his success to a simple recipe using only the freshest and best quality fish to achieve the best flavour, and the fact that they buy in the seafood used specifically for their chowder from Clew Bay. Commenting on their win John McGrath, Frank’s business partner, added “We’re absolutely delighted to be crowned this year’s champions! It was a fantastic day; and we are thrilled to have been involved and to have done so well against so many fantastic competitors in Kinsale, Ireland’s Gourmet capital.”

A fun afternoon of tastings and entertainment was had by all with appearances from top celebrity chefs Martin ‘Fishy Fishy’ Shanahan of RTE’s Martin’s Mad About Fish fame, and Paul Flynn of The Tannery Restaurant, Waterford, winner of Egon Ronay Restaurant of the Year and Georgina Campbell Chef of the Year. Tourists from Europe, America and beyond came in their droves as well as locals and visitors from all over the country.

Speaking at the event, Martin Shanahan said “The mouth-watering aromas, witty banter and delicious food made for a hugely entertaining and captivating event, which was enjoyed by all. The Cook-Off was a resounding success with queues forming well before we opened. It was fantastic to have almost every county in Ireland represented this year, with Frank and John from The West Bar beating off stiff competition to win the public vote. But the real winner was fish, with almost 800 people experiencing it here today!”

Following the Cook-Off, Chairman of Kinsale Chamber of Tourism, Hal McElroy said “We are delighted with the response from both the public and the chefs who took part and I would like to thank them all for making the trip to Kinsale. On behalf of Kinsale Chamber of Tourism, I would also like to congratulate The West Bar on being crowned National Chowder Champions 2012, and we look forward to welcoming them and many more back for an even bigger event next year! For anyone interested in entering next year’s Cook-Off, please contact Kinsale Chamber of Tourism or visit”

2011 National Chowder Champions, Bunratty Manor Hotel returned to Kinsale for this year’s event, in preparation for their visit to the Newport, Rhode Island Great Chowder Cook-Off next month, where they will represent Ireland, following their win in Kinsale last year. As well as being crowned National Chowder Champion 2012, The West Bar also received a customised trophy and an all-inclusive package stay in Kinsale for the renowned Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival 2012, including tickets to all events, meals, plus accommodation for two people for two nights during the festival. The October event, now in its 36th year, is one of the most highly regarded and popular festivals on the Irish gourmet events calendar. But not only that, as they will also go forward to the Newport, Rhode Island Great Chowder Cook-Off in June 2013.

For more information on the National Chowder Cook-Off and upcoming events in Kinsale visit


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