Nineteen of the best of the best restaurants cooked up chowders Oct. 30, as the St. Augustine Shrine Club hosted its first Chowder Challenge for Children at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The event benefits the Shriners Hospitals in Tampa. Several thousand patrons attended the fundraiser, an event which Shriners emphasize is all about the kids. Admission was free, with patrons purchasing tickets for $1.
The best chowders were selected by a panel of judges. The fifth award, The People’s Choice, will be announced in several days, according to Shrine club officials, after final tabulation of votes.
Many success stories have come out of St. Augustine and St. Johns County, thanks to the services provided by Shriners Hospitals. According to Ruth Greg’s, interim administrator/director of fiscal services at the Tampa facility, the average cost per patient from 2015 was $17,088. This includes all hospital expenses. Since the hospital launched its electronic medical record, 203 patients from St. Johns, Putnam and Flagler counties have been seen, and 315 from Duval County. During the past three years, 60 patients from the three counties have visited the hospital and 74 from Duval County.
The local Shriners have been able to donate large sums of money to the Tampa hospital each year, thanks to the fundraiser, Shriners Dwight Wilkes and Jerrod Meeks noted earlier this year. It’s a lot of work, both Wilkes and Meeks agreed, but it’s worth it. “Each Shriner could write a check for $225 or so, and we wouldn’t have to have the chowder event,” Wilkes noted in April, but that isn’t the way Shriners see it. “The chowder event is a community event. It’s a place for people to come and have fun.”
Jessica Hill of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, Tampa, reports that there are currently six patients in the St. Augustine/St. Johns County area being treated by the Tampa facility.
Winners in this year’s competition included:
Minorcan Conch Chowder: 1- Sunset Grille; 2 – Purple Olive; 3 – Kyle’s Seafood Market.
Minorcan Clam Chowder: 1 – Osteen’s; 2 – Purple Olive; 3 – Black Molly.
New England Clam Chowder: 1 – Sunset Grille; 2 – Le Pavillon; 3 – Mango Mango’s.
Seafood Chowder: 1 – Kyle’s Seafood Market; 2 – Mango Mango’s; 3 – South Beach Grill.
Parking for the event was provided at the amphitheatre, at the Elks Lodge, next door; and at R.B. Hunt School with the Council on Aging buses providing the shuttle service.