ROCKLAND — It was Lobsterpalooza’s fifth year celebrating the venerated lobster mac and cheese dish and the chefs did not disappoint. On Sunday, September 17, more than 150 people attended the annual event held at the Rockland Elks Club featuring five professional and five amateur chefs.
In the end, the professional chef win went to Husson University’s chef Nick Andrei for his beautiful presentation of lobster mac and cheese inside a lobster tail shell.
“It was kind of smoky with bacon,” said Marilyn Quinn, one of the event volunteers. ”He also won the People’s Choice award.”
This year’s amateur chef award went to longtime Lobsterpalooza participant Maynard Stanley for his recipe that he made with a Mornay sauce.
“It really had a distinctive, subtle flavor to it and Maynard also won another plaque for having participated in the last four of the five years,” said Quinn. “He changes things up every year with different flavors to his dishes. It’s a lot of work and we wanted to recognize that. We also gave Graffam Brothers a plaque for being part of the event all five years.”
Other dishes that Quinn found notable this year included two cold dishes.
“The only requirement for the competition is that the dish needs to contain pasta lobster and cheese and some chose to interpret that as a cold pasta salad,” she said.
In addition, a macaroni and cheese with lobster sausage was a hit, made by Twisted Iron Grill, a food truck from Wiscasset.
Then, there was the “lobster taco” which was a taco made out of pasta with lobster, feta and blueberry.
“It was really unique and fresh,” said Quinn.
Quinn, the Midcoast Sales Manager for Blueberry Broadcasting LLC, one of Lobsterpalooza’s sponsors, said: “One of the things Blueberry Broadcasting does each year is run spots on the radio that gives the history of the lobster industry. This time of year, when there is a glut in the market and a lot of the tourists are gone, we want to remind tourists and locals alike the value of what lobstermen and fishermen bring to the Maine economy year round. We try to raise awareness though our station to encourage people to support the lobster industry by buying more of it and trying new recipes like these with it.”
The Historic Inns of Rockland started Lobsterpalooza five years ago to put the focus on lobstermen’s contribution to the economy when boat prices were historically low and bait and fuel were high. Since, then, the event has been a hit with locals, who come from far and away to sample mini dishes of the lobster mac and cheese.
All photos courtesy PJ Walter Photography.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org