They Clam Do It!

Andora Salcido was busy all day Saturday scooping servings of her spicy clam chowder. She made nine gallons worth, and said she “loved watching (my daughters) interact and chat and kid around with the crowd, I am one proud mom! It was a life experience th

Dressed as Rosie the Riveter, the Salcido family used their elbow grease to represent Gilroy at the Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-off and Festival Saturday. They didn’t win, but the day was still a success.


The family of four is entered in the 31st annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Festival, where they will compete against other teams from around the West Coast.

It’s the first cook-off competition for Andora, but the passion is 10 years in the making ever since Andora left her job as a property manager and dedicated her days to her daughters and learning how to cook.

“It’s good for my daughters to see me follow my dreams and do something I love to do,” Salcido said Thursday morning, after a busy evening in the kitchen Wednesday preparing a new recipe she plans to enter into the Gilroy Garlic Festival cook-off competition this summer.

The chowder fest demands that competitors take on a theme (to encourage silly costumes for visitors’ amusement such as mermaids and scuba divers). So with that, the Salcidos landed on a World War II theme with Rosie the Riveter  (get it, “We Clam Do It”?) played by Andora and her two daughters Natalia, 12, and Noelle, 10 – complete with red lipstick, bandanas and a clam tattoo – and her husband a San Jose fire captain will get roped into trying on a sailor costume Saturday.

Top awards include cash prizes, round-trip airplane tickets, and plaques for each of the individual and professional divisions (Boston and Manhattan varieties), along with People’s Choice and Most Original.

But with no cook-off experience to boot – Salcido’s just hoping for a beautiful day in the sun with her family.

She said her recipe of which she will make six gallons on Saturday is chock-full of garlic – “Of course there’s garlic!” – and spicier than a traditional chowder. “It’s worth the experience. I thought it would be fun to do it as a family. I’m just totally inspired now,” she said.

The chowder chow-down starts at 10 a.m. at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Tasting kits are $9 each, otherwise admission is free. Public tasting starts at 1 p.m. and winners are announced at 4 p.m.