SOUTH PORTLAND – Raisin Bran? That’s for amateurs.

Try poaching 350 eggs and sauteing an equal number of crab cakes to go along with them.

Staffers from the Sea Glass Restaurant in Cape Elizabeth faced that challenge Friday when they prepared their dish for the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off.

“This is very tough,” said a bemused Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich as he helped cooks Karen Turner and Rob Davis plate crab Benedict for 300 hungry diners. “A wine dinner is actually easy compared to this.”

The tally for Paul Dyer, chef at the Porthole Restaurant in Portland: 400 poached eggs, 375 toasted English muffins, 11 cases of baby spinach and a 10-pound block of Swiss cheese. It all went into his eggs Florentine.

The 7 a.m. cook-off at the Sea Dog Brewing Co., which featured 11 Maine restaurants, was a benefit for the Preble Street social service agency and a signature event of Maine Restaurant Week.

The tallies aren’t in yet, but the cook-off and the Bartenders Bash, held at the Portland Museum of Art on Monday, together raised at least $3,500 for Preble Street, according to Jim Britt of gBritt PR, one of the organizers. Tickets cost $12 each, or $20 for two.

“This time of year, not much is happening, and it’s a great cause,” said Mary Olson of Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, who was handing out blueberry muffins, pumpkin nut doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and other baked treats.

Arlene Engley, the diner’s pastry cook, said she had to be at the diner by 1 a.m. Friday to get everything ready in time for the contest.

“OK kids, you have to try a Congdon’s doughnut,” called out Gary Leech, the owner of Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells, sounding like a breakfast barker. Leech said he sells 8,000 to 9,000 doughnuts a day during the summer. “No fat, no calories, all good.”

Congdon’s also brought a ham strata that appeared to be a hit.

“It’s like a baked omelet,” Leech said. “Basically, it’s eggs, milk and cheese. There’s some ham in it, and we put bread on the top to make it look pretty. Then we slow-bake it for two hours at 225.”

Cook-off ticket-holders got to vote for their favorite dishes.

Anita Chandler and Linda Foster of Portland took the task seriously, writing notes about what they liked and didn’t like about each dish in their programs.

Chandler favored the Sea Glass’ crab cakes, which were served on a dollop of avocado mousse, then topped with a poached egg, lemon hollandaise and chives.

Foster, working her way through an apple fritter, was partial to the cr? br? French toast covered in fresh fruit made by the Good Table in Cape Elizabeth.

Ultimately, she cast her vote for the homemade corned beef hash from the Miss Portland Diner, which she said was “fabulous.”

“It was very good meat,” she said. “Very tasty. Nice spices, just a few potatoes. I had two of those. I probably shouldn’t tell you, right?”

Kathy Moran of Cape Elizabeth, who was scouting for new restaurants for her twice-monthly breakfast club, said she was going to vote for the Porthole’s eggs Florentine, which was smothered in a smoky bacon cream sauce.

“I think the sauce made it, the smokiness to it,” she said.

In the end, the Good Table’s French toast won.

Lisa Kostopoulos, owner of the restaurant, said she was “ecstatic.”

“Not only was (the contest) great to raise money, we had a blast,” she said. “Working with all these fellow restaurants, that was the best of it.”

 

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]