Friday, March 7, 2014
I wrote a story earlier this week about some very talented chefs who came to Scarborough for the Shucks Maine Lobster Chef “World Series.” I thought you might like to hear a little more about some of the chefs, and see some more photos. There's also some video posted on our home page so you can get a feel for what it was like in the kitchen.
There’s been a lot of interest in what the winning chef, Chris Gould, has planned for the Portland restaurant he’s hoping to open next year, so I’ll include some more details on that here as well.
Let’s start with Gould, who is originally from Bethel and is moving back to Maine from Boston, where he was a key player at Ken Oringer’s Uni Sashimi Bar. In a conversation I had with him during the lobster competition at host chef Steve Corry’s house, I asked him what he planned to do with the $5,000 if he won.
“I’m getting married Sept. 2, and I’m going to Spain for a month, so that will be helpful,” he said. “It will probably just go toward my trip to Spain. And I’m also opening a restaurant in Portland, hopefully in spring. Whatever’s left will go into the restaurant.”
Gould said he’s looking at “a few locations,” but wouldn’t be more specific. He did talk about the menu, though, which he described as “internationally inspired small plates.”
“It will be like tapas-style small plates, but it’s not going to be necessarily Spanish or French or Italian,” Gould said. “It will be kind of chef’s whim, and the menu will change every day, depending on what’s available, what’s fresh. And it will be anything from pastas to sashimi dishes, fresh oysters, all from Maine. I’m using a lot of local products, whether it’s veal and lamb in the spring or braised short ribs or beef cheeks in the winter. But all small plates, all good price points, anywhere between $5 and $20 – mostly right around $12 a dish.”
Gould said he thinks there’s not enough late-night options in Portland where restaurant folks can grab a quick bite and relax after service. He said he plans to keep his restaurant open with a full menu until at least midnight, and 1 a.m. on the weekends.
“People will say there’s no demand for it, but everywhere I go at night, people are like, ‘Where can I get food? Where can I get food?’ ” he said.
When he comes to Portland, Gould likes to dine at places like Fore Street, Duckfat and Hugo’s, which isn’t surprising since he’s buds with Hugo’s chef Andrew Taylor. He said he helped trained Taylor when they worked at Clio in Boston, and he finds it amusing that the tables are going to be turned when he helps out in the Hugo’s kitchen while he’s working on his own place.
Where else? Maybe Miyake, Portland’s best-known source of sushi and omakase tasting menus that have received rave reviews all over New England?
“I used to like Miyake before they moved,” Gould said, explaining that he preferred the smaller, funkier, hole-in-the-wall version of Miyake on Spring Street before the restaurant moved to its stunning new digs next to the Portland Harbor Hotel.
The new spot, Gould noted, is now “fairly expensive.”
“Now it feels like they’re trying too hard, I guess,” he said.
Gould said he is eager to try Krista Desjarlais’ food at Bresca because it seems like “it seems like it’s my style of food.”
He doesn’t appear worried about opening another restaurant in a small city that is already overflowing with good choices.
“If the food’s good,” he said, “people come, and it speaks for itself.”
Here's what Gould made for the Lobster World Series. The first photo shows him making cinnamon-smoked carrots with grass he pulled from chef Steve Corry's property, which is next to a marsh. The second photo is the finished dish: Butter-poached lobster with ragout of sauteed lobster knuckles, roasted fingerling potatoes, cinnamon-roasted carrots, roasted corn and sweet miso puree, and piquillo pepper:
Now, here’s some more photos from the Lobster Chef World Series.
Before they started cooking, the contestants (below) posed for a group shot. From left to right: Chris Gould; Gerd Kastenmeier of Kastenmeier's Restaurant in Dresden, Germany; Steve Corry of Portland's 555 and Petite Jacqueline; and Patrick Goubier of Chez Patrick in Hong Kong.
Here is Patrick Goubier working on his dish, and a shot of the completed plate, in which he paired the lobster with a mild goat cheese and made a red beet soup. "I wanted to make something very colorful and very refreshing," he said. "I don't use a bit of butter and cream." (Apparently people always expect him to because he's French.) Goubier said he thinks people should be able to taste the ingredients they see on the plate, especially when the chef is working with good products. In this dish, he said, "the lobster is the star." Goubier said he served this at Christmas in Hong Kong, using Shucks Maine Lobster.
Next came Gerd Kastenmeier. This was, I confess, the dish I most wanted to try. I thought it was beautiful and creative. His plate contained a trio of Maine lobster: lobster tartare topped with a fried quail egg, Maine lobster tail sausage over champagne kraut, and scrambled egg with lobster knuckles topped with caviar.
Kastenmeier said his philosophy is that if a blind man comes to dinner, he must be able to tell what he's eating.
Here he is making the lobster sausages. He brought the lamb casing and the kraut he used as a bed for the sausages from Germany.
Here he is scooping the egg-lobster mixture into the empty egg shells.
And here's the finished dish, just before a judge is about to chow down.
Maine was represented very ably by Steve Corry, who made an uber-local dish that included lobster tails over crispy fried seaweed, lobster claw poached in olive oil, striped bass over sea beans, lobster and chicken of the woods mushrooms, a dollop of "sea foam," and a little "sand" made from crisped brioche crumbs. ("I'm Irish," he joked. "I have to have some starch on the plate.")
The lobster came from Stonington. Corry caught the striped bass himself about a quarter mile from his house. The mushrooms came from nearby woods. And his two sons helped him forage the sea beans. Here's 5-year-old Seamus showing his dad some love during the competition:
Corry walked the group through the process of fusing two lobster tails together using the enzyme transglutaminase, or "meat glue," to make for a better presentation. He cooked the bound tails at 142 degrees in an immersion circulator. Here's what they looked like when they came out of the water, followed by a photo of what they look like after they're sliced into discs:
And here's a couple of photos of the finished dish:
Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.