Back in the day, lobster in Maine was generally served steamed, with drawn butter and maybe corn and clams. Or if you went to a swank white-tablecloth sort of place, you might get lobster Thermidor, a dish that melded the lobster meat with egg yolks, sherry and butter, and then returned the rich, creamy mixture back to the shells and topped it with a cheesy crust.

Like just about everything else in the Maine foodie diet, lobster has come a long way. The eight chefs who competed for this year’s Harvest on the Harbor’s Maine Lobster Chef of the Year on Friday afternoon pitted wasabi against truffles, crepes against seaweed salad cones, and uni butter against micro chives. And did we mention foam?

In the end, Avery Richter, executive chef of The Black Tie Co., edged out her competitors and earned top honors for her lobster seaweed salad cone with ginger-honey vinaigrette, crispy wasabi shallots, pickled radish and petite cilantro. The three judges – cookbook and food writer Mindy Fox, WCSH 6 News anchor Cindy Williams and CEO and president of Shucks Maine Lobster John Hathaway – deemed her the Lobster Chef of the Year.

Festivalgoers who’d bought tickets to the eight-course luncheon event, held at the festival’s tent on Commercial Street in Portland, also had their say, and they said differently. The People’s Choice Award went to cookbook writer and inn broker Dana Moos for her charred scallion lobster crepe, which was topped with butter-poached lobster, smoked truffle aioli, soy glaze, and puffed wonton bits. Moos also won this year’s Harbor Claw Down in Boothbay Harbor.

Harvest on the Harbor, now in its 11th year, celebrates, as its publicity material phrases it, “Maine’s crave-worthy cuisine.”

Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6453 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: PGrodinsky

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