Clam chowder, cornbread champions crowned

BEAUFORT, NC – A chowder chef has reclaimed her crown.

Chef Dawn Freeman, who had the top pick in 2018 and also won the 2019 Crab Cake Cookoff, had the best chowder as determined by attendees at the 9th annual Clam Chowder Cookoff, hosted by the Friends of the Maritime Museum on Jan. 17 at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center.

The chowder from Chef Leah Branch of Moonrakers was the judges’ pick.









Friends Director of Operations Brent Creelman said it was a close contest overall.

“This is why we come around and collect those ballots,” said Friends Director of Operations Brent Creelman. “That handful we picked up at the end made a difference it was so close.”

Deborah Van Dyken won the night’s second contest, which selected the evening’s best cornbread, based on both voting and on judges selection at the sold-out event. She won the same category in 2019.

The additional chowder entrants were Chefs Jon McGregor and Hannah Minter from Clawson’s 1905. Rounding out the cornbread entrants were McGregor and Minter; Barbara Baker and Don Kritsch; and Freeman, who was assisted by Michele Stout.

Kenny Collins of TLC Catering, the defending chowder champion, held his own — on the crabcake front. Collins served up cooked-to-order crabcakes, perhaps to set himself up as the front runner for the next cookoff event: the 14th Annual Crab Cake Cook-off, which will be held July 17 at the Watercraft Center.







Volunteer guest chefs will once again come together and the public will vote on their favorite at this museum fundraiser.  Participants will also vote on slaw prepared by four additional cooks and vote for their favorite in that category as well.

Tickets will be available starting in June at the museum store or online at  Proceeds help support the operations of the Friends of the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

To participate as a volunteer cook in the crabcake or cole slaw division, or in next year’s chowder and/or cornbread contest, contact Brent Creelman at 252-728-2762 or

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