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NYC’s Tommy Harder wins the First Annual Great Mussel Tussle at Belgium Comes to Cooperstown Beer Festival!

August 10, 2011

NYC’s Tommy Harder wins the First Annual Great Mussel Tussle at Belgium Comes to Cooperstown Beer Festival!

Brewery Ommegang’s First Great Beer Deserves Great Food Throwdown.

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) Brewery Ommegang “kicked it up a notch” last weekend at their annual beer festival, Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (BCTC), in upstate New York. Six chefs from up and down the Eastern seaboard joined the festivities in support of Ommegang’s Great Beer Deserves Great Food program while competing for the title of Mussel Tussle Guru. The results are in and the winner is….chef Tommy Harder of NYC’s Blind Tiger!

Standard Belgian fare: moules (or in English, mussels) were the main ingredient used in the competition. Each chef was assigned one distinctive Ommegang Belgian-style ale to cook with and created a mussel dish that was judged by festival attendees. Before the competition started, the chefs made a trip to the Cooperstown farmers market for their choice of additional ingredients, and were then given a final secret ingredient they were required to use in their dish. Some dishes include; Bart Vandaele of Belga Café in Washington, DC, was assigned Hennepin, Ommegang’s farmhouse saison, and created a leek cream sauce, buttered breadcrumbs, and truffles. Chef Ric Orlando of New World Bistro in Saugerties, NY made a tomato-beer barbeque sauce with corn and roasted salsa using Ommegang’s Three Philosophers.

The winner of the Great Mussel Tussle was Chef Tommy Harder of NYC’s Blind Tiger. His dish consisted of mussels steamed in Ommegang Witte wheat ale, an herb-citrus cream sauce, goat cheese gnocchi, and crab and tomato salsa topped with bacon foam. Ommegang CEO Simon Thorpe and host chef Teddy Folkman crowned Chef Tommy Harder as the official Mussel Tussle Champion in front of a cheering crowd with bellies full of mussels. During Harder’s acceptance speech he thanked Ommegang for putting together the competition and expressed how honored he was to represent The Blind Tiger in NYC. As the winner of the event, Chef Harder took home a series of prizes including cookware, cash, and a 3 liter bottle of Ommegang ale. His winning recipe will also be featured on the Café Ommegang menu.

The First Annual Great Mussel Tussle was inspired by Brewery Ommegang’s Great Beer Deserves Great Food (GBDGF) initiative. GBDGF is a fine beer and food pairing program that encompasses a wide range of culinary initiatives, including a sponsorship with leading food publication Saveur, on-going support of culinary education programs, a beer and food road-show of beer dinners, and deployment of roving chef ambassador Teddy Folkman — of Granville Moore’s Gastropub in Washington, DC — to serve as the voice of the effort. For more information about the Great Mussel Tussle or the GBDGF program, go to

BREWERY OMMEGANG opened in 1997 to craft-brew fine Belgian-style ales. Ommegang now creates six ales year-round as well as an extensive range of limited edition ales. The beers have won national following by connoisseurs of fine beer and are distributed in over forty states. Ommegang production and sales continue to grow rapidly and the company is in the process of significant physical expansion to meet growing demand. The brewery is located on a 140-acre farmstead just south of Cooperstown, New York and offers free daily tours and tastings, as well as a well-stocked brewery store, a beer bar and Café Ommegang. Ommegang is open every day of the year except for Christmas Eve day, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, and New Year’s Day. For more info, contact info, call 1-800-544-1809, or visit Ommegang is a member of the Duvel family of fine ales. © Brewery Ommegang, 656 County Highway 33, Cooperstown, NY 13326.

Below: Photo credit: Richard Walker

Chef Tommy Harder is the executive chef at Blind Tiger Alehouse in NYC. Cooking was only a passion and hobby for Harder until he attended Le Cordon Bleu’s Western Culinary Institute and started developing his skills under some of the great chefs in Portland, Oregon. He has backgrounds in over six different cuisines including French, Italian, Thai, Japanese, Belgian, and American. Harder also assisted in the production of beer growing up, working in breweries in college and in restaurants with a major beer focus. His favorite beer and food pairing is cheese and beer such as Aged Gouda with a nice stout and/or a pilsner brined chicken. For more information on Chef Tommy Harder or Blind Tiger Alehouse visit

Below: Photo of Chef Tommy Harder’s winning dish


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