Voted the World’s Best Seaside Park

Saturday, Feb. 24 –
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024

Team Information

Divisions & Entry Fees

Teams may enter one of the following divisions in either, or both, the Boston & Manhattan categories.

Amateur- $75
Professional- $75

Amateur – The talented home cook.
Professional – The chef who gets paid to prepare food for others (including restaurants, camps, universities, corporate kitchens, etc.).

Each Team Receives:

  • Two Rides Wristbands
  • Two event T-shirts
  • One complimentary Parking Pass

Cook-Off Schedule


  • 8-9:30am- Check-in and set-up cooking areas. No early check in.
  • 9:45-10am- Cooks’ meeting at Colonnade Stage (near Pirate Ship)
  • 10-11am- Preparation (NO HEAT!)
  • 11am-1pm- Cooking
  • 1pm- Public tasting begins
  • 1:30pm- Judging begins
  • 3:15pm- Deliver People’s Choice and Taste Ticket buckets to Judging Area.
  • 4pm- Winners announced at Colonnade Stage (near Pirate Ship)

Competition/Cooking Rules

Clam Chowder Definitions:

  • Boston Clam Chowder is defined as a white, rich cream soup with a predominant clam flavor. 
  • Manhattan Clam Chowder is defined a clam-flavored soup exhibiting a definite red hue. 

Minimum Chowder Amounts:

  • SATURDAY- Amateur teams are required to cook a minimum of six (6) gallons. 
  • SUNDAY- Professional teams are required to cook a minimum of ten (10) gallons. 

Teams may prepare as many gallons as they wish. The more chowder you make, the better chance to win!  

Cooking Times:

  • There will be a one-hour preparation period beginning at 10am and a two-hour cooking period beginning at 11am. TASTING BEGINS AT 1pm!


  • No ingredients may be pre-cut, pre-cooked, or pre-treated in any way prior to the preparation period. The only exceptions are canned or bottled clams, clam juice, and tomato paste or sauce. Potatoes can be boiled and skinned, but may not be pre-cut. 
  • The only meats allowed are clams and bacon.
  • Boston teams, a staff member will be walking around dropping off your Berkeley Farms cream.

Contestants Must Supply:

  • All their ingredients and utensils (two ladles were provided at registration in the event one is dropped) – because of the high volume of guests, we will be allowing teams to use a pitcher to serve the chowder. Please do not touch pitcher against cup to reduce cross contamination. 
  • Contestants are allowed (but not required) to give away bread, breadsticks, and crackers to spectators  
  • For everyone’s safety, NO GLASS CONTAINERS are permitted on the Boardwalk. 
  • Coleman-type stove (non-liquid fuel ONLY).  
  • If you intend to use a table-top butane stove, you must supply a tile-type surface to place on top of the table. 
  • Propane tanks must be no bigger than 5gallons/20lbs (typical BBQ size) and must be secured. 
  • There is NO ELECTRICITY available. Gasoline is prohibited. 
  • ABC type fire extinguisher (MUST be a minimum of 2A10BC- bigger will be accepted) 
  • A 10×10 covering/canopy if desired 
  • Decorations for their booth and their cooking areas as points will be given for booth décor for the Most Original Team award. 
  • Decorations may NOT be attached to Boardwalk walls, rides, or other structures. No helium cylinders allowed. 
  • All team-members, decorations, and cooking assistants must be INSIDE the designated booth space. 
  • No roaming around with hand-outs, you must stay in your booth area. 
  • Any contestants with costumed characters must keep them in your booth area. 

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Will Supply (on event day):

  • One (1) 6 ft. table and 10×10 cooking area. All booths should not exceed 10×10 or 8′ in height.
  • One 2oz serving ladle
  • Two trash bags- Teams are responsible for cleaning up their cooking areas
  • One Parking Pass
  • Two Ride Wristband Vouchers for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  • Two complimentary event T-shirts
  • People’s Choice Ballot Bucket
  • Taste Ticket Ballot Bucket
  • Limited number of carts for load-in and load-out (available first-come, first-served)

Health Regulations

It is your responsibility to comply with all health requirements:

  • Wash your Hands 
  • Keep cold foods below 45 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Do not work if you are ill 
  • Minimize hand/food contact- to help prevent cross contamination, please do not touch ladle to the tasting cups. 
  • No smoking 
  • Wear clean clothing 
  • Wear a hair restraint- nets are not required, but team members with long hair serving or cooking chowder should wear their hair pulled back. 
  • Clean all work areas- keep your tables clean 
  • No fresh clams. No more digging your own clams, however fresh clams can be purchased from an approved food facility. 


Best Chowder

  • We have a cast of 10 judges made up of community VIPs and Chowder Lovers. 
  • Chowder tastings are blind and are judged on a point basis for 1) flavor, 2) color, 3) consistency. 
  • Judges will give greater consideration to traditional recipes. 
  • A judging time and 16oz judging cup will be delivered to each team between 12noon-1pm.  
  • It will be the team’s responsibility to fill the judging cup and deliver the chowder to the judging area at the allotted judging time written on the cup. 
  • At approximately 2:45-3:00pm, Boston team finalists MAY be asked for another 16oz sample for the judges. So save a little incase you are a finalist! 

People’s Choice

  • The People’s Choice award is determined by ballot. Ballots are included in each tasting kit, and are cast by the tasting public at each cooking team’s table. 
  • It will be the responsibility of the team to deliver their People’s Choice ballot bucket to the judging area at 3:15pm. 

Most Tasted

  • The Most Tasted awards are determined by the total number of taste tickets collected by each team.  
  • It will be the responsibility of the team to deliver their Taste Ticket bucket to the judging area at 3:15pm.  
  • Any teams that have anything other than the proper tickets in the People’s Choice and Most Tasted Boxes will be disqualified. 
  • We will not accept individual ballots or tickets once your boxes have been turned in. 
  • Buckets received after 3:30pm will not be considered for People’s Choice or Most Tasted awards. 

Best Theming

  • The Best Theming award will be determined by our Chowder judges based on originality of costume and booth decorations. 
  • Chowder judges will judge all booths between 12:00pm-1:30pm. 


Plaques will be awarded to winners in each of the following categories:

Best Clam Chowder Winners

(1st place winners will be put into a drawing for an additional $500)

  • Best Amateur Boston – 1st ($150), 2nd, 3rd
  • Best Amateur Manhattan – 1st ($150), 2nd, 3rd
  • Best Professional Boston – 1st ($150), 2nd, 3rd
  • Best Professional Manhattan – 1st ($150), 2nd, 3rd

People’s Choice Winners

  • People’s Choice Amateur – 1st ($250)
  • People’s Choice Professional – 1st ($250)

“Most Tasted” and “Best Theme” Winners

  • Most Tasted Amateur – 1st ($250)
  • Most Tasted Professional – 1st ($250)
  • Best Themed – 1st ($250), 2nd, 3rd

All Teams are eligible for a special prize drawing of $250!

(Head cook must be present at awards ceremony)

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