Community selects best clam chowder
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
From left, Francisco Martinez, Tanna Anglin and Lisa Gill from Sugar Pine Smokehouse and Kim Praytor from The Waffle Spot with Mo Plat from MoJo’s Catering and Restaurant congratulate Madera Clam Chowder Cook-Off champion Stacy Cornaggia-Miller, right, from Backstreet Bar & Grill.
With more than 400 tickets sold, the first Madera Clam Chowder Cook-Off was deemed a success and Backstreet Bar & Grill earned bragging rights with the best soup.
In a battle between five Madera restaurants, it was the restaurant that doesn’t regularly serve clam chowder that took home the first trophy.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Stacy Cornaggia-Miller, owner of Backstreet Bar & Grill. “Nobody really knows little Backstreet Bar & Grill. We have really good food. Us participating with all of these other restaurants in Madera, it’s wonderful for me to win. I’m surprised and completely shocked.”
Along with Backstreet, competitors included Sugar Pine Smokehouse, MoJo’s Catering and Restaurant, Simply Scrumptious and The Waffle Spot.
Despite scrambling by the restaurants at the last minute, the Madera community came out to support their local restaurants.
The event was originally to be scheduled at The Waffle Spot. However, the City of Madera came in the last minute and told the restaurateurs that they couldn’t have that many in one spot, so the sites were split.
Backstreet joined The Waffle Spot at its site. Meanwhile, Simply Srumptious and MoJo’s joined Sugar Pine at its restaurant.
However, many in attendance didn’t seem to mind and used the cook-off as the chance to support local restaurants and, basically, just get out of the house.
Gerardo and Angela Garcia, who arrived at Sugar Pine early, said they were using the event as a date night, along with a chance to get out of the house without kids.
Despite some consumers waiting more than 30 minutes to get their samples of chowder, there were plenty of happy faces to be found.
“It was a really great day,” Corniaggia-Miller said. “The participation was amazing. We sold a ton of tickets. Everyone understood with COVID and no one complained. It worked out wonderfully against all odds.”
A couple who recently moved to Madera from Sacramento said they saw the event and jumped at the opportunity to try the city’s clam chowder. They enjoyed it so much they can’t wait for the next event.
“I hope we can have a thousand more of these vents with more restaurants participating,” Cornaggia-Miller said. We want to keep people in Madera. We want to keep them here, eating, and appreciating and not going to Fresno to eat. We want them to eat our wonderful food in Madera.”
The five restaurants, along with Madera To Go Facebook group creator Kym Salter, are contemplating their next move. There was talk about having a contest for the best chile verde, along with ribs and chicken wings.
Proceeds from the event will benefit assorted charities and families in need.
However, Cornaggia-Miller hopes the victory will bring more people to her restaurant and eat her food.
“I hope this validates my restaurant,” she said. “We put out some really good food at Backstreet. Because it’s a bar, people don’t really think to come over to have a great burger, cheesesteak and, now, a great clam chowder.”
Now, Cornaggia-Miller has to consider to having clam chowder as a regular on her menu.
“Evidently, clam chowder will be on the menu,” she said. “I just don’t know what day.”