Winners of annual Chowder Cook-Off, Ice Fest competitions announced

Tompkins Weekly Staff

Photo by Rob Montana / Tompkins Weekly
An ice carver works on his masterpiece during the 11th annual Ice Fest in downtown Ithaca.

The public has spoken and Simeon’s American Bistro took home the top crown at the 8th annual Chowder Cook-Off.
The public voted at last weekend’s event, which took place on the Commons in conjunction with the 11th annual Ice Fest.

Simeons was awarded the Best Seafood Chowder title, receiving the most votes overall of the 24 area restaurants competing during the event. The runner-up in the category was Luna Inspired Street Food and third place was awarded to Cornell Catering.

The Best Veggie Chowder title was awarded to GreenStar Natural Foods Market, a local health food store, and second place went out to Downtown Ithaca’s popular Mexican joint, Viva! Taqueria, while third place was granted to Ithaca Soy. In the Best Meat Chowder category, the title went to Max’s American Grill, located in Hotel Ithaca. Second and third place in this category were awarded to GreenStar and Ithaca Bakery.

Photo Provided by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance
The top three ice carvers from the 11th annual Ice Fest. Wei-Sen Liang, left, was third, Aaron Costic, center, took first place, and Jerry Perum, right, was second.

The Ice Fest saw some of the nation’s most skilled ice carvers compete for cash prizes and awards, and kept the crowd entertained.
Aaron Costic took first place in the competition, followed by Jerry Perum in second and Wei-Sen Liang in third.

Ice Fest also featured the very popular Ice Bar, a serving station made completely out of ice, entertainment from comedic juggler Nate the Great, the fire-fueled performance from Cosmic Karma Fire troupe, and toe-tapping tunes from the Fall Creek Brass Band. This annual affair also hosted its inaugural Silent Disco, which received rave reviews from silent disco dancers.

Ice Fest and Chowder Cook-Off were made possible in part by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program, and sponsored, in part, by the Hilton Garden Inn. The Ice Bar’s fine brews were provided by Bacchus Brewing Company and its variety of local wines came from Treleaven Winery.

“Overall, these events were a huge success this year,” said Scott Rougeau, associate special events director for the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. “The crowds saw some amazing sculptures created by some amazing ice carvers and they enjoyed some very tasty chowders, especially from our people’s choice winners. They really rocked it.
“We thank the participating restaurants for their tasty concoctions and we thank the public for attending, sampling, and then offering their votes,” he added.

Downtown Ithaca’s next major event is the Chili Cook-Off set Saturday, Feb. 10 on The Commons. For more information about this and other downtown events, visit the DIA’s Facebook events page or visit