Many Cape May couples spent the recent Valentine’s Day drinking wine, eating chocolate and making candlelit whoopee. Michael Keating and his better half shucked oysters until 3am.
Let’s back up.
Every February, Cape May’s Chamber of Commerce hosts a Chili and Chowder Challenge where commercial and home chefs enter recipes to be judged by the public. This year’s event took place at Congress Hall on February 15 and Mike, who happens to be executive chef of Cape May’s Blue Rose Inn and Restaurant, submitted an oyster chowder made with our Cape May IPA. The dish used about 32-ounces of beer and 100 Cape May Salts in a five-gallon batch… and beat out 20 other entries for first place in the chowder division.
And that’s not all. Last year, Mike’s Texas-style chili made with beef shoulder and CMB’s Scottish ale was also a blue-ribbon winner. Apparently, our beer is meant for soup.
This past Sunday, we caught up with Mike and his colleague/sister Courtney over chocolate porters at CMB and we have to say, we like these guys. Not just because they’re into beer (they brew their own at home and are regulars of our tasting room), but because they run an impressive operation. The Blue Rose is owned by their parents. Courtney is the office manager of many hats, including marketing and innkeeping. Mike’s wife Angela works by his side as pastry chef, and we’re surprised their four-year-old child isn’t yet answering phones. It’s very much a family affair, and yet no one has managed to kill anyone else.
“People are always going to clash,” explains Mike, “but family are more understanding when it happens.”
And it helps that everyone has the same philosophy when it comes to food.
“We’re very much a scratch kitchen,” Mike told us. “We do as much as we can by hand. We make our own bread and cheese and we smoke our own bacon, which we used in the winning chowder. It’s also important that we use local ingredients — like Cape May Roasters Coffee, the Cape May honey we use for glazing fingerling potatoes and, of course, Cape May Brewery Beer. It’s only going to make my product better.”
In the case of Mike’s chowder, the hoppiness of the CMB beer was an ideal match for the brininess of his Cape May Salt oysters — a marriage that might soon appear on the Blue Rose’s menu full-time.
Meantime, stop by the brewery and check out our soup-friendly brews. It’s a place where the world — or at least the tasting room — is your oyster.