Taproom gains ally in MusselFest Chowder Contest

This year’s MusselFest marks the fifth anniversary of The Penn Cove Taproom’s opening, and the owners have an ace up their sleeve for the chowder-tasting contest.

A past chowder-tasting champion and director of Coupeville’s Connected Food Program Andreas Wurzrainer is throwing in with the Taproom in a mutually beneficial partnership to raise funds for the Connected Food Program.

The Taproom is taking MusselFest seriously this year, and is looking forward to help from the renowned Whidbey chef, because “we’re bartenders, not culinary artists,” said Taproom owner Mitch Aparicio.

All proceeds from the Taproom’s chowder sales will go to the Connected Food program, Aparicio said.

Aparicio said he is hoping to raise about $2,000, which will help in purchasing supplies and covering some overhead costs for the program.

Aparicio said he remembers learning about cooking in home economics class at Coupeville High School in the 1980s. He was sad to hear that the class is no longer offered, but he sees similar benefit in the Connected Food Program.

When Wurzrainer left his Coupeville restaurant, Christopher’s, to work for the Coupeville School District a year ago, he did not plan to compete in MusselFest, but he saw an opportunity to use the event to talk about the program.

“Word is out, and now we have to keep the momentum going,” Wurzrainer said.

The Taproom has already gathered about 150 pounds of mussels and the special ingredient to be used in the chowder this year, squash from Sherman’s Pioneer Farm.

Wurzrainer will be making all of the chowder on Saturday morning, because, he said, he doesn’t like cooling and then reheating.

“If you want to taste my chowder you will have to go to the Taproom,” Wurzrainer said.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of The Penn Cove Taproom owner, Mitch Aparicio.

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