Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Toronto February 26th 2020

Event Details


February 26, 2020






The Fermenting Cellar of the Distillery District

28 Distillery Lane, Toronto, Ontario M5A 3C4


Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Toronto February 26th 2020

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The Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown is back for another fantastic evening of chowing down on 100% sustainable seafood chowder in the name of ocean conservation!

Come and witness 13 Top Ocean Wise Seafood chefs from across Ontario compete head-to-head for the title of Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion in Toronto. Taste delectable original chowders, local craft beer and vote for your favourite, all in support of sustainable seafood.

Ticket includes unlimited chowder, craft beer, wine and spirits sampling as well as access to our photo booth and extensive silent auction.

Don’t forget to #BePlasticWise! This event is entirely waste free complete with compostable chowder bowls and wooden spoons that each guest gets to take home to reduce our impact on the environment.

All seafood in this event is 100% Ocean Wise recommended as a sustainable seafood option and is generously  donated by Seacore Seafood Inc. The beautiful event space, the Fermenting Cellar, is generously donated by Distillery Events. The ocean themed photo booth is donated by Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. This event would not be possible without their amazing support!

All proceeds directly support the Ocean Wise Seafood program, which helps to ensure healthy oceans, lakes and rivers for generations to come.

Check out this years impressive lineup of competitors below:

Le Select Bistro- Chef Laura Maxwell

Chef Laura Maxwell is a George Brown College graduate and a Red Seal certified Chef. She is a winner of the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Top 30 Under 30 Award for 2012.  Laura began as an Entremetier Chef at Le Sélect Bistro, and worked her way through the ranks to Executive Chef.  Laura’s menu focuses on locally sourced, naturally cultivated and sustainable ingredients while remaining true to the style of an authentic Parisian Bistro. Her 2018 Food Day Canada menu was chosen for a Gold Good Food Innovation Award.   

Laura is inspired by Toronto’s dynamic and diverse culinary scene, and the top Chefs she has been fortuitous enough to work with, both in Canada and abroad.  When not leading her talented team at Le Sélect, she enjoys cycling, spending time with her husband, Chef Brent Maxwell, and their two giant kitties. 


360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower– Chef Abhishek Shetye 


Experienced Sous Chef with a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality industry. Skilled in Catering, Food Quality, and Culinary Management. Strong operations professional with a focus in Culinary Arts/Chef Training at the Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology, with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Management from A.K. Hafizka Institute of Hotel and Tourism Management. 



Coconut Lagoon– Chef Joe Thottungal

JoThottungal is a Canadian chef and owner of the Coconut Lagoon restaurant in Ottawa. Born in the State of Kerala in South India, trained as a chef in Madras, Joe worked for several years in Mumbai and the Middle East before immigrating to Canada in 1998. For five years he worked in hotel kitchens in Toronto, Windsor and at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa where he earned his Chef de Cuisine designation. When a longing to cook the food of his childhood became too forceful to ignore, Joe opened Coconut LagoonFive years later, in 2008, Joe was named Ottawa Chef of the Year by the Canadian Culinary Federation. In 2016, he won top prize at Ottawa Gold Medal Plates, followed by a silver medal at the 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships. Joe lives in Ottawa with his wife and three children.  


Distillery Events– Chef Justin Borg




Justin Borg’s love of food began in his earliest years. Born and raised in Oshawa, Ontario, his earliest memories of food are of spending time in the kitchen of his family home, watching his mother and grandmother cook.  Today, most of his cooking is based on these memories of his childhood, and the earlier parts of his career.  






Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie– Chef Andrew Wilson



Toronto native and Executive Chef of Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie, Andrew Wilson, is a celebrated young veteran to modern and fine dining restaurants. Chef Wilson’s love for bright, bold flavours and approachable, fine fare has landed Cluny a number of accolades, awards and spots on best-of lists under his tutelage. Leveraging skills in a vast range of international cuisines, including French and French-colonial, Chef Wilson will no doubt continue to garner rave reviews for his fresh, modern fare. 





Luma– Chef Dawoon Chae 

Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, Chef Dawoon Chae inherited a strong passion for food from his mother. Her freshly baked breads, homemade stocks and soup, and use of seasonal vegetables and fresh fish all inspired a young Dawoon to become a professional chef. When he was 21 years old, Dawoon made the move to Toronto to study culinary management at George Brown College. Following apprenticeships at George under Chef Lorenzo Loseto, and Scaramouche under Keith Froggett, hfound a job as a cook at O&B Café Grill Bayview Village, where he spent two years developing his skills. 

After a brief stint at Vancouver’s renowned C Restaurant, where Chef Dawoon worked extensively with sustainable seafood, he returned to Toronto to take a Chef de Partie position at Marben. Mentored by Top Chef Canada winner Carl Heinrich as well as Chef Misha Nesterenko, Chef Dawoon crafted delicious Canadian comfort food. In 2011, Chef Dawoon took the next step into a leadership position at Simple Bistro. As Sous Chef, Dawoon expanded his knowledge of butchery and modern French technique. He was eventually promoted to Head Chef, and excelled in creating upscale French dishes with a hint of Korean influence. 

Most recently, Chef Dawoon served as Chef de Cuisine at Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill in Toronto’s historic Distillery District, where he focused on serving quality seafood and oysters. Now leading the kitchen at Luma, Chef Dawoon is excited to bring global flavours, fresh fish and seafood, and seasonal vegetables to the forefront of the menu. 


Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment– Chef Kellen Crumb

Chef Kellen Crumb is the Executive Sous Chef of the Scotiabank Arena. That is inclusive of three restaurants, The Platinum Club, The Hot Stove Club and The Scotia Club, and 23 concession stands offering made from scratch cooking for 19,000 fans every event. 

Chef Crumb’s culinary journey began at a young age as he grew up in a family that loved cooking and eating. After spending some time working in restaurants like Kelsey’s and The Book Shelf, Chef Crumb attended George Brown Chef School under the 2 year Culinary Management program. Chef Kellen was hired as an Apprentice by Celebrity Chef Brad Long to join Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment shortly after graduating.  

Chef Crumb worked and staged in many of the city’s top restaurants, honing his craft across his 13 years while still being a proud member of the MLSE Culinary Team. Kellen first took over the Hot Stove Club, before moving to take over and running the larger Scotia Club (formerly Air Canada Club)and then finally stepping up to oversee the multi-million dollar food & beverage operation at Scotiabank Arena.


Mercatto– Chef Doug Niegel

As a boy growing up in Muskoka, Doug Neigel always appreciated where his food came from. Exploring local maple syrup farms, fishing out the Muskoka River and local hunted and foraged products is where his connection to food began. It was those truly authentic experiences, in that small Northern Ontario town, that shaped and inspired his life’s work.

At just nineteen, Doug graduated from culinary school, taking his first steps into the hospitality industry. After a year at Deerhurst Resort in Ontario cottage country, he moved to the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Florida to complete his apprenticeship. Returning
home in 2000 to join the prestigious Park Hyatt Hotel Toronto was a great opportunity for the young chef to refine his craft. With his hands on the pulse of an iconic Canadian hotel, he absorbed every culinary experience the hotel had to offer from à la carte dining
to pastry and banquets.

Stepping out of the hotel world in 2007, Doug opened two award-winning independent restaurants, L’Unità and Malena. It was at these two Yorkville eateries where Doug continued his education of Italian gastronomy and established his soulful culinary point of view.

2011 brought Chef new challenges with the fast growing Mercatto Hospitality. Spearheading an expanding culinary team of close to seventy-five, in a five restaurant strong family, he has continued to focus on his honest approach to cuisine with an emphasis on quality ingredients and made-from-scratch dishes.

Charismatic and kind-hearted, Doug thrives on mentoring his chefs and cooks while forging strong ties with Toronto’s Culinary schools and their future chefs. With a passion to impact the sector, presenting Mercatto’s dinners with food that is local, sustainable and supporting independent supplies continues to drive Doug.

Through his twenty-one years in the industry, Chef has won over critics hearts and gained many accolades including: Top 10 new restaurants from James Chatto, Top 10 new restaurants from Joanne Kates, Top 10 new restaurants from Toronto Life, Top 100 restaurants in Toronto from Joanne Kates, Best Italian restaurants in Toronto from
Dine.To, Nine of dine award from Now Magazine, Pizza hall of fame from Toronto Life, Best lunch spot from Now Magazine, and Industry partner award from George Brown College. Humble, Doug credits the successes in his career to his focus on quality ingredients and partnering with the greatest of suppliers.


The Restaurant at Peninsula Ridge– Chef Taylor Dow

Born and raised in Barrie, Taylor’s passion for cooking developed early on in his teen years. While working for a local catering company, he enrolled at Georgian College in the Culinary Management program. As a co-op student at Bigwin Island Golf Club, he quickly rose through the ranks to the position of Sous Chef. Since graduating, Taylor has gained extensive experience as a Private Chef working for a Senior Wealth Management Executive, as well as well-known celebrity Cindy Crawford. In 2016, Taylor travelled to Prince Edward Island to work under Chef Michael Smith at the Inn at Bay Fortune. During his time with Chef Smith, he gained insight and developed his passion for live fire cooking. Prior to Peninsula Ridge, Taylor held Executive Chef positions at The Strand and Bayview Wildwood Resort. He joined the Peninsula Ridge team as Sous Chef in May 2018, and took over as Executive Chef in August later that year. His culinary inspiration is drawn from Niagara’s plentiful bounty and close working relationships with local farmers. With Taylor’s drive, creativity and innovation, Peninsula Ridge has again earned a spot on Open Table’s Top 100 Diner’s Choice list.  


Pier 87– Chef Jason Maw

Chef Jason Maw was born and raised in the suburbs of Toronto.  While he may have been born here his parents were from South Africa, with ancestry originating from Canton province in China.  With that background, even at a young age Jason was no stranger to multi-culturalism.  Growing up, dinners weren’t typical Chinese cuisine but a mixture and representation of the city that is his home.  Food was always a big part of his life even at a young age as he helped his parents in the kitchen from time to time and eventually almost out of instinct started to cook for friends.  His love for cooking and food was always there but Jason only realized this just before leaving high school after getting accepted at the University of Guelph.  Not totally sure of his path, Jason was intent on going to the university if it weren’t for a flippant remark made by his father.  Upon hours on the computer looking up recipes and watching copious amounts of Food Network, his father had said “if you like it so much why don’t you do that for a living”.  What at the moment was thought to be joke turned out to be most serendipitous.  While his application to college was late, Jason had the good fortune of beating out a few hundred other students to enrol at Humber college’s chef training program. 

After completing the one year program, Jason jumped right into the industry working at Fusion bar and grill (which is now a tip top tailor).  Soon after getting the green off he left Fusion and found himself at Bistro 990 in 2000.  There he progressed from apprentice to jr sous chef in a few years.  Staying on till 2006, when a change was needed.  It was with great sadness that he chose to leave as he felt (and still does) it was the place that he grew and learned the most as a cook and chef.  Since then he has been through some of the cities reputable establishments such as Boba, Lakes and Starfish Oysterbed and grill (now Pearl Diver).   

 He has spent his career trying to hone his craft taking in various styles and techniques.  Learning French bistro cuisine from Bistro 990, incorporating international flavours from Boba, molecular gastronomy from Match events and catering and utilizing local and fresh seafood from Starfish Oysterbed and grill.   Jason also has done a little travelling for his profession to broaden his prospective.  Heading out west to cook for tree planters in the middle of the BC forest, NRA show in Chicago and frequently travelled to Las Vegas for the Catersource conference and trade show with emphasis in 2010 when he participated in the Anthology event in which he helped showcase the use of liquid nitrogen.   

Chef Jason has most recently held the titles of executive chef and product development chef of Scarlett House Catering and Optimum Solutions.  With this position, Jason was involved in nearly every aspect of Scarlett House catering.  From corporate caterings, weddings, large bbqs for thousands, to working with companies such as West Jet and HMS host.  Jason has been responsible for developing menus and food items for both the catering side and the contract catering side.  The food innovation and product development side became such a huge component and demand for his time was so high that we had to step away from the role of executive chef and move primarily to the roll of product development working with customers such as West Jet, HMS Host, Sunwing, Air Canada, Delta airlines, American Airlines, Core Mark and Air transat With this position he also worked with other caterers that are a part of a network belonging to Optimum Solutions.  He provided guidance in operations and production flow, set the standards and quality control for all products for the mutual customers, and in person audits for partner caterers across the country. 

Chef Jason has since decided to pursue a different path, by helping others.  He helped start a small consulting company utilizing his years of food industry knowledge to aid others succeed.  He also most recently has been teaching at Centennial college in a wide variety of courses, from baking to restaurant operations.   

Pier 87 is the most recent restaurant that chef Jason has been tasked to help develop. 


Pure Spirits Oyster House- Chef Aaron Linley

Aaron Linley dreamed of being a chef at 18, but attempted his first recipe long before that, at age 12 with Deep-Fried Fish from the television show, Wok With Yan.  
Born and raised in Stratford, Ontario, Linley headed to one of the best training grounds in Canada - Stratford Chefs School.With class in session during the winter months, summers were spent apprenticing at legendary modern fine dining restaurant Rundles, open for 41 years until doors closed September 2017 (Owner James Morrison also ran the school at the time).  
Starting out on the floor as a food runner, Linley’s apprenticeship extended into six years. “I liked the energy, the feel, the food,” he says. He stayed on at school too – this time as instructor (cool fact: many well-known Toronto chefs were his students).  
His passion for “constant learning” and travel led him to Toronto’s famed Scaramouche,a stage at Oliveto restaurant in California, with Chef Paul Bertolli of Chez Panisse fame (Rundles had sent students there as part of their training), and six months working with Chef Michael Smith, host of many television shows including Chef at Home, Chef at Large, and Chopped Canada. 
After years of travel (Hong Kong, Thailand, China, most of western Europe, South America, Peru, New York, Chicago and “magical” Vietnam), Linley felt the pull back to his hometown.  
He and wife Bronwyn – whom he met in chef school – opened Bijou in Stratford in 2001. Shopping for local ingredients daily at the market – “an important part of the process, ” the well- regarded farm-to-table restaurant saw great success by the discerning theatre crowd under their tutelage.  They sold it in 2015 and created a similar achievement with their food at The Bruce Hotel for the next two years.  
After many years of the restaurant grind, the couple focused on catering while their kids were in school. Suddenly college was on the horizon, and Linley and his wife felt ready for the next challenge. They packed up the house and moved to Toronto for a new adventure.  
“Seafood’s always been a big love of mine,” Linley says. So the title of executive chef for The Distillery Historic District’s Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill is a natural fit. 


The Drake 150– Chef Anthony Law

Anthony Law brings years of culinary expertise to the Drake’s financial outpost, where his contemporary menu meets classic cuisine.

A graduate of George Brown’s Culinary Management program, Law quickly found his way into the hospitality scene in 2008 as a culinary apprentice for C5 in the Royal Ontario Museum. A few years later [in 2011] he decided to travel abroad to London in search of further experience and hands-on learning. There, he was honoured to work as Chef de Partie at David Moore’s Pied-à-Terre as well as a tournaut for Marcus Wareing in the esteemed Berkely Hotel. Having spent years honing his skills in Michelin-starred restaurants, he eventually returned to Toronto in 2013 to join Drake One Fifty as a Jr. Sous Chef. It was here that he really came into his own, quickly moving into a Executive Sous Chef role and eventually Chef-de-Cuisine in 2017.

The evolution of Drake One Fifty’s contemporary concept has been a collaborative effort that Anthony leads with great care. He is dedicated to running an uplifting kitchen that embraces learning, teaching and a high bar of excellence, while being committed to sourcing local ingredients as well as sustainable farming practices.


Fairmont Royal York– Chef jW Foster

As part of the Fairmont Family for over 15 years with time spent at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai,
Fairmont Dallas, Fairmont San Francisco, and Fairmont Banff Springs, executive chef, j.W., brings a true taste of the world, his award-winning talent and highly-respected food philosophy to Canada’s icon, Fairmont Royal York, in its most exciting chapter yet.

As the creative culinary director, Chef J.W. will infuse imagination into the hotel’s six new culinary concepts as it transforms three of its signature food and beverage venues set to debut in spring 2019. Visitors and guests alike can expect a bold, modern and authentic essence in Chef and team’s new menus while they honour the hotel’s rich food history and renowned service. With these newly imagined culinary venues and dining experiences; the hotel is also set to debut a completely remodeled Fairmont Gold, presenting the finest luxury hotel offerings and services in the city; and a luminous new lobby and arrival experience.

Being a world-class and well-travelled Chef, while holding an immense care for guests and elevating
the culture of passionate culinary artists along the way, the hotel and local industry are especially
excited for jW’s return to Toronto.

“I have a true soft spot for this hotel and the incredible chance for me to be a part of its next chapter of luxury hospitality. I started my career here in 2002 and when I left in 2007 as Executive Sous Chef, I had no intention to leave,” says executive chef, j.W Foster. “I am thrilled to be back and have the chance to give platform and expertise that I have gained in my Fairmont journey throughout the world to the culinary team to allow it the new culinary concepts and cuisines to thrive. I also look forward to take the kitchen back to its roots and grow the future of our industry as we reinvigorate the apprenticeship program.”

The philosophies of “nose to tail” and “hug your farmer” will be a part of Chef j.W.’s vision at Fairmont Royal York along with his value of sustainability and a goal to be 100 per cent Ocean Wise
in the next six months. When asked what he attributes the success in his career thus far, “My efforts to put my team first, thinking outside the box, pushing the envelope of the food we create, working local and inspiring the up-and-coming leaders in the industry.”

Edwin Frizzell, Regional Vice-President and General Manager, Fairmont Royal York, “Chef j.W’s return is the key ingredient to bring the next era of dining at our hotel to life. Pair his leadership,
global culinary understanding and highly sought-after and respected skills; we believe his vision will bring bold and unexpected culinary surprise.”

“Food is a vessel to a one-second shiver towards a memory,” says Chef j.W Foster. What’s his favourite dish today? “Beef tartare given to me by my Dad – when I enjoy it today, it evokes memories of my childhood.” Chef will proudly present a steak tartare on the Library Bar menu in the coming months and shares that it will be a signature dish in the hotel’s next main restaurant.

‘Our role is to nourish people in memorable ways, and I wish to never let us forget that –j.W Foster.”


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Overfishing is a monumental, global issue. Ocean Wise seafood is a conservation program that makes it easy for consumers to choose sustainable seafood for the long term health of our oceans. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is our assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. With over 750 Ocean Wise partners with thousands of locations across Canada, the Ocean Wise seafood program makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.

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