Mike Ramsay, owner and chef at Sporthaven Marina, brought home the gold last Saturday from the annual Chowder Cook-off in Florence.
The competition, at the Florence Annual Chowder Brews and Blues Fall Festival was open only to professional chefs, and included professionals from Astoria to Brookings.
The published advertisement, “Line up early to taste the best Chowder on the West Coast!” would indicate that the winner, Ramsay, the Brookings entrant, is the chef who produces “the best chowder on the West Coast.”Ramsay took four hours to serve the approximately 4,000 tasters from the 10 gallons of chowder he and his wife, Kathy, took with them to Florence.
Those tasters included the professional judges, who presented the top professional award and $1,000 to Ramsay, and the ordinary chowder eaters who voted Ramsay the People’s Choice Award that included $100.
It was a full day for the Ramsays, including a three-hour drive and four hours serving chowder, to “people, people, and more people,” Kathy Ramsay said.
Mike said it was definitely worth it.
“I wanted to know how I rated on the coast,” he explained. He said he felt especially rewarded by the award from professional judges from culinary schools because he is completely self-taught.
Of course, receiving the People’s Choice Award was really special because the ordinary people are the ones who keep his business going.
Although, he admitted, “I’ve always liked to cook and it’s kind of a passion.” He actually got into the cooking almost accidentally. “We bought Sporthaven as a tackle shop and only put in the bar and restaurant to help business in this current downturn,” he explained. “It’s been a very good move, and we serve the best fish and chips and chowder.”
As fishermen from Nevada, Mike and Kathy vacationed in Brookings over the years. They moved to Brookings nine years ago and opened a candle shop at the Port of Brookings Harbor.
However, a few years ago they decided a tackle shop was a better fit for them and took over Sporthaven, and Mike, started cooking and discovered he was good at it, proven by his current chowder awards.
Mike suggests that anyone who wants to sample the best chowder on the Oregon Coast should pop into Sporthaven between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or Sunday until 5 p.m. Of course people can also order burgers and other ordinary favorites.
The tackle shop, open in winter from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., is open from 5 or 6 a.m. in summer.