Update, October 1, 2021: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as of September 30, 2021, the Chowdermeister festival has been officially canceled. I first learned the news via a Twitter post explaining the situation.
The tweet posted a series of four screenshots bearing the announcement, which read in part:
Unfortunately we received word today that Jägermeister will no longer be supporting the event due to press attention that was deemed unflattering. We were under the impression all parties knew a chowder and Jäger festival would be, by its very nature, polarizing. Instead of standing with us to show the world they had it wrong, they’ll be making a contribution to The Gathering Place and walking away.
Let’s all observe a moment of silence. It looks like Jägermeister wasn’t happy about being associated with the “worst food/drink pairing,” and I’m guessing that executives thought this festival would ultimately damage the brand’s reputation. I can assure them that a syrupy drink I frequently associate with Red Bull, hair gel, and hangovers is not something I take terribly seriously at the best of times.
When she first heard about the Chowdermeister festival, my fiancée remarked that she thought the festival sounded fun, and that the pairing of chowder and Jäger might actually be really good. I agreed. Career chefs were involved, and if there’s anything I know from being a cook, it’s that we love taking challenges and making delicious food out of ingredients that don’t necessarily sound appealing on paper. I guess Chowdermeister was not meant for this world, but perhaps this will pave the way for an even greater festival down the line.
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Original post, September 23, 2021: What’s the worst food and drink pairing you can think of? Think long and hard about this one. This past July, writer Jake Browne took the question to Twitter, which is the arbiter of all things if you ever need a crowd consensus. Well, per Food & Wine, the winning combo is about to have its own festival.
“What’s the worst food/drink pairing?” Browne asked. “I’ll throw an all-you-can-eat/drink festival of the winner in 39 days if 1000 people vote?” He put up four choices, eggs and red wine, pickles and banana daiquiris, olives and butterscotch, and chowder and Jägermeister. One choice stood out big time: the chowder and Jägermeister pairing, coming in with 75.4% of the vote. (Oh, if presidential elections were this easy.)
1,742 people voted in the poll, so Browne put his money where his mouth is, and is making the jokey festival actually happen. The event will take place on October 16 at Sloan’s Lake in Denver, Colorado, and is appropriately called Chowdermeister. [Full disclosure: I was asked to be a judge for the event, though I don’t think I can make it. Dammit.]
The head judge of the event is Josh Scherer, host of the popular YouTube Mythical Kitchen channel. Scherer said, in a statement:
I saw Jake’s tweet threatening to throw a chowder and Jägermeister festival if his poll reached 1,000 responses. I felt it was my duty to the world to make Chowdermeister a reality. Against all odds, and against God herself, I’ve spent years cultivating an audience uniquely suited to the combination of party liquor and dairy-based soup, and they came through. So, here we find ourselves, ready to unleash botanical-infused, lactose-tolerant hell on the city of Denver. I’m sorry. Or you’re welcome. I’m not really sure anymore.
Don’t worry, there’s a good cause involved; Chowdermeister will support The Gathering Place, which is an organization that serves unhoused women, transgender individuals, and children. Top Chef alum Carrie Baird will also be there, so there’s a decent chance that this festival may actually involve some delicious food. Hmm. Maybe I should make a Jägermeister and chowder Altoona-style pizza at home to participate in spirit, from Chicago. That should do the trick.