Maine Coast Monkfish Stew, served with cheese toasts. Photo by Guenola Lefeuvre, Textured Porcelain

In a fundraising effort to help feed hungry Mainers, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association is selling monkfish stew at more than a dozen area stores from Arundel to Ellsworth.

The Maine Coast Monkfish Stew, cooked and packaged by Hurricane’s Premium Soups and Chowders in Greene, uses local, sustainably harvested monkfish and Maine potatoes, along with carrots, cream and lobster stock. The stew is sold frozen in 16-ounce and 24-ounce sizes, ready to heat and serve.

The fisherman’s association launched its Fishermen Feeding Mainers program in response to the pandemic, when Maine fishermen who catch species like monkfish, pollock and hake lost markets for their harvests. Much of the Maine monkfish had been sold in Asia. At the same time, the organization saw food insecurity on the rise in Maine.

All proceeds from the stew will be used to purchase fresh local fish, which will then be donated to schools, foodbanks and community groups statewide. To date, the Fishermen Feeding Mainers program has provided more than 400,000 meals to Mainers, the association said.

Ben Martens, the organization’s executive director, said monkfish is unfamiliar to many Maine home cooks, making the heat-and-eat stew an ideal way to “show off” the ingredient.

“Monkfish has a different texture, and can be difficult to cook if you’re not used to it. The stew is a way for us to introduce consumers to a local and sustainably sourced seafood choice and to support Maine’s fishermen,” Martens said.


In addition to the seafood markets and specialty stores now carrying the monkfish stew, it’s also being served in Brunswick at Frontier and the Brunswick Diner. The stew also is available online through Harbor Fish Market in Portland.

For more details on where to buy the stew, visit the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association website.

Biz school report: Stories sell

Artisanal food producers looking to make their products stand out should provide consumers with more point-of-sale information about their food, according to a study authored by the University of Maine’s Maine Business School and published in the journal, Sustainability.

“When I buy a beautiful wheel of artisan cheese from one of Maine’s amazing cheesemakers, everything about my experience with that product is different from my experience with a more conventional, everyday cheese,” study co-author and Maine Business School assistant professor Erin Percival Carter said in a prepared statement. “We wanted to dig into the psychology of consumers of specialty products and help producers determine how to make products even more appealing for those consumers.”

The study was published last July, though the university didn’t issue a news release about its findings until last week because of understaffing, a university spokesperson said.


The researchers surveyed consumers at the Maine Cheese Festival to find out how closely they read package information for both “typical” and “special” cheeses. They also asked participants if they were likely to seek out more product information, and whether what they learned about the product affected their shopping experience.

The study found that cheesemakers and other artisanal food producers could distinguish themselves from the competition and boost sales by giving consumers more product information. The study suggested, for example, that cheesemakers could offer customers cards that detail the provenance of the cheese, the milking date, and other information on the cheesemaking process, and direct them to online media with still more details.

“While many artisan producers feel pressure to imitate market leaders and adopt clean and stripped down packaging, that kind of packaging does not play to the strengths of an artisan product,” Percival Carter said. “If you have an artisan product, it’s important to think of the story of your product.”

Belleville’s coming back

The esteemed Belleville Bakery, known for its laminated croissants, pastries and Roman-style pizza, will reopen its 1 North St. store on March 5, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the bakery’s Facebook page.

The Facebook post says the bakery will open Fridays through Sundays starting March 11. The owners plan to expand their hours this spring once they open their new location at 767 Forest Ave.

Belleville Bakery had been closed since last May, except for occasional pop-ups. Owner Chris Deutsch told the Press Herald last year that just before closing, his 250-square-foot bakery had been trying to produce up to 600 croissants daily to meet consumer demand, a pace that he said was unsustainable in the tiny workspace.

Belleville’s new Forest Avenue location will be a production facility with a walk-up retail window that will allow bakers to churn out as many as 1,000 pastries a day, Deutsch said.

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