Bis 'n' Pieces: Vancouver chef is a winner again in chowder contest

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photoMichael Ramsay's award winning clam chowder at Burger Bungalow.

Vancouver chef is a winner again in chowder contest

Michael Ramsay didn't grow up in New England, but when it comes to clam chowder, the 58-year-old Minnehaha resident knows his stuff.

Ramsay, who owns Burger Bungalow at 11215 N.E. 28th St., No. 1, has won the Oregon Coast Professional Chowder Cookoff for the second time.

"I originally owned a seafood restaurant in Brookings, Ore., and we had to have a good chowder," Ramsay said. "When we moved to Vancouver last year, we started a new restaurant, and when I realized there wasn't any really good chowder here, I decided we needed to serve it."

Ramsay won the Florence, Ore., contest for the first time in 2009. He was able to enter the competition again because of his past association with it, he said.

The grand prize includes $500 and a traveling trophy.

Ramsay also won second place in the People's Choice Award at the Sept. 22 cookoff. He won first place in that category twice in 2009 and 2010.

"My background is in seafood and I really stress all-natural ingredients," Ramsay said. "I love New England-style chowder. Mine is a thick, creamy white kind of chowder. I've had a lot of New Englanders try it and say they love it."

Ramsay comes by his chowder enthusiasm honestly. His father grew up in Boston and Ramsay, who grew up in California, spent a lot of time on the East Coast when he was young, he said.-- Sue Vorenberg

Washougal High School actors feeling presidential

Kelly Gregersen, drama teacher at Washougal High School, is wearing more hats than usual as he directs "44 Plays for 44 Presidents."

It's not just one play, but 44 very short plays, each about a different U.S. president, from Washington through Obama. The show has 200 roles acted by 25 students, and 100 sound cues — including a snippet of music from each president's era, played before the play begins. There's even a Nixon musical.

"It's been a little schizophrenic, but it's been a lot of fun," Gregersen said. "I'm director, musical director, choreographer and fight choreographer."

The school's drama department is among 44 theater groups nationwide selected to perform the play as part of the Plays for Presidents Festival 2012. Only a handful of the theater groups are high school groups. Gregersen and his students produced the play a few years ago in a small, black box theater setting. The director of the festival and lead playwright, Andy Bayiates, asked them to participate in the festival leading up to the presidential election.

"There's a 45th play ready and the audience gets to vote on which play they get to see: the Obama play or the Romney play," Gregersen said.

Catch "44 Plays for 44 Presidents" at 7 p.m. Oct. 26-27 and Nov. 2-3 in Washougal High School's Washburn Auditorium, 1201 39th St., Washougal. Tickets, in advance or at the door: $5 adults, $4 students and seniors. Call 360-954-3136 or visit http://washburnpac.org. For more information, visit http://playsforpresidents.com/about-the-festival/.-- Susan Parrish

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.