A note from Marianne LaCroix, Executive Director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. As one …
Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative Celebrates the Beginning of Maine Lobster Harvest and “New Shell” Season
Portland, ME – May 14, 2015 – The long winter is finally over, and Maine New Shell Lobsters are coming. Maine is home to the world’s most delicious lobster, and the beginning of harvest season (typically June to November) is a unique time for locals. Just prior to peak harvest season, lobsters in the cold, pristine waters of Maine shed their old shells and grow new ones, resulting in Maine New Shell Lobster – the sweetest, most tender lobster in the world.
Mainers have enjoyed New Shells for hundreds of years, and now the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) is launching a new campaign to let the rest of the country in on this local seasonal delicacy. The program will celebrate the unparalleled taste of New Shells and the creative ways chefs are preparing and menuing Maine lobster. It will also showcase the Maine Lobster industry’s long history of sustainability and traceability, with generations of lobsterman committed to their trade.
“When people think lobster, they think Maine – but there’s so much more to the story,” says Matt Jacobson, executive director of the MLMC. “We are excited to introduce people around the country to New Shells and the amazing story our lobstermen have to tell. Most people may not even know that lobsters have a season, but this is the time of year that lobsters are truly at their sweetest. We want everyone – from chefs to home cooks – to celebrate the Maine Lobster season, and we are excited to be attending the National Restaurant Show this weekend to share our story. If you can’t come to Maine, this is one of the best ways you can bring a little bit of Maine to your plate. ”
Tradition You Can Taste
People are increasingly interested in the provenance of their food, and care about issues like environmental sustainability – something the Maine Lobster industry has been at the forefront of for decades. As one of the oldest continuously operated industries in North America, according to the University of Maine, the Maine Lobster industry has a long history of sustainability and traceability practices deeply rooted within a close knit group of multigenerational family lobstermen.
Maine lobstermen have self-regulated their industry and practiced the same responsible fishing practices for 150 years. Even today, all Maine Lobsters are hand-caught from small day boats. “I’ve been lobstering for over 40 years. Lobster fishermen take pride in the quality of our product and the willingness of our fishery to protect the marine environment that provides our livelihood,” says Frank Gotwals, lobsterman and MLMC board member. “We’ve been protecting our resource for over 100 years, and it’s taken good care of us in return.”
The annual survey by the National Restaurant Association has identified sustainable seafood as one of the top 10 menu trends. “Maine Lobster is probably one of the best narratives you can have on your menu because you can sell the story along with the dish,” says Chef Barton Seaver, one of the country’s leading seafood cuisine and sustainability experts.
Maine Lobster’s Culinary Rise to Fame
Maine Lobster has grown to be a compelling restaurant trend in recent years. According to Technomic Inc., while many restaurants serve Maine Lobster in traditional forms, such as steamed with drawn butter, a growing number of chefs are reimagining the crustacean, creating innovative dishes that play on lobster’s luscious texture, sweet taste and extreme versatility. Ben Pollinger, executive chef of Oceana in NYC and author of “School of Fish,” features Maine Lobster on his menu, pairing it with unique flavors such as ginger, cinnamon, soy sauce and cilantro. “The delicate texture of Maine Lobster takes on the nuances of flavors so well that it’s easy to create a dish that my guests have never tasted before,” says Pollinger. “For me, quality is the most important thing and knowing that the Maine Lobster industry has such a storied history of sustainability practices assures me that Maine Lobster is the best.”
One dish more popular than ever is the lobster roll, which is being served up everywhere from high-end restaurants to fast casual chains and food trucks – including Luke’s Lobster, a growing restaurant group modeled after a seafood shack, and Cousins Maine Lobster food trucks that are popping up from coast to coast. Luke Holden, owner of Luke’s Lobster and board member of the MLMC, whose latest restaurant location is opening in Chicago on May 18th, says, “I grew up in Maine where lobster rolls were on every menu. When I opened Luke’s Lobster, I wanted to bring a taste of Maine to the masses by offering quality Maine Lobster at an affordable price.” Pret A Manger, a quick serve restaurant and coffee bar, will offer Maine Lobster Rolls and Maine Lobster Salad at all US locations this the summer. Lobster rolls are even being served in the U.S. Pavilion at the food-themed Expo Milano 2015, the modern incarnation of the World’s Fair, forever cementing it as an iconic American dish.
According to the NOAA, Maine landed 85 percent of the lobster caught in the United States in 2013. The industry is also growing abroad, with U.S. exports of live and processed lobster to China climbing from $2.1 million in 2009 to $90.5 million in 2014. Maine Lobster is a culinary icon and economic powerhouse, employing thousands of Mainers and contributing more than $1 billion to the state’s economy each year, according to Maine.gov.
To learn more about Maine Lobster’s amazing history, the lobstermen’s stories, and more, visit www.LobsterfromMaine.com and follow Maine Lobster on social: