Pride on the line at Chowdafest

State Rep. Dave Rutigliano, R-123rd District, will defend his titles in the Soup and Creative Chowder categories at the fourth annual Chowdafest Feb. 3 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. The event is a fund-raiser sponsored by Stop & Shop and it benefits the Connecticut Food Bank.

“I’m a competitive guy and this is a great cause, so for me it’s a perfect charity,” Rutigliano said.

Rutigliano, who co-owns several restaurants, said he enjoys the creative aspects of producing soups and chowders.

“One year, I duplicated an entire Thanksgiving meal in a bowl,” he said. “It actually took almost a week to make because I roasted the turkey and made cranberry sauce.”

Rutigliano’s other entries have included a bacon, egg and cheese soup and a roasted corn and poblano pepper chowder that won first place last year. This year his competition includes restaurants such as Liquid Lunch, Valencia Luncharia and Super Duper Weenie.

This year is the first time the event will be held at the arena, but Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment President Howard Saffan said he was excited and proud that the event had grown so much it required a large venue.

“We know foodies are a passionate group,” Saffan said. “We are excited to welcome them and to play a role in the continued success of Chowdafest.”

The event began as a small event, drawing about 400 people. Last year more than 5,000 people attended and the proceeds helped the food bank with its mission, said Nancy Carrington, the president and CEO.

“Low-income families are struggling to put food on the table as heating and fuel costs rise during the cold winter months,” said Carrington. “Each year we look forward to another successful Chowdafest event and appreciate the community’s overwhelming support to help their hungry neighbors.”

Chowdafest will be held Sunday, Feb. 3, from 11 to 4. The event started with 400 first-year attendees and grew to more than 5,000 participants in 2012.  This year organizers expect a record-breaking crowd of up to 10,000 people.

Tickets are $10, $5 for children 6 to 10. There also will be a non-perishable food collection at the event. For additional information about Chowdafest, visit