CT Chowdafest founder remembered for being '100 percent chowder, 100 percent of the time'

Photo of Erin Kayata

NORWALK — Jim Keenan signed off all his emails with the same signature: Chowder on!

His voicemail ended with the same message. Chowder, the Seattle Seahawks and golf were Keenan’s three passions in life, according to his wife Mary Ellen Keenan.

Keenan died late last month at age 60 of complications from a stroke, but his love of chowder is his lasting legacy. The Norwalk resident started a tiny chowder contest in his Westport church 13 years ago that grew into Chowdafest, the region’s top chowder competition that draws eateries from around the country.

“He didn’t have blood in his veins, he had chowder,” said Stephen Carpentieri, owner of Dunville’s Restaurant in Westport and a Chowdafest participant. “It was a passion of his. He was so excited seeing the turnout and seeing everyone enjoy it and certain restaurants gain notoriety for it. He smiled inside a lot watching other people’s successes.”

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