October 6, 2010

Soup to Nuts:
Harvest on the Harbor

An all-star lineup of local chefs will be front and center at this year's Maine foodie event, which also boasts some big-name celebrity guests and, of course, lots of great food.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Chefs participating in the Grand Tasting on the Harbor gathered for a group photo last week on the Portland waterfront. Left to right are Al Hynes of the Black Point Inn, Jay Villani of Sonny's, Jeff Buerhaus of Walters, Justin Rowe of the Chebeague Island Inn, Alan Cook of Twenty Milk Street, Charles White of Cinque Terre, Melissa Bouchard of Dimillo's, Tony Lavelle of Solo Bistro, Eric Simeon of Grace, Christopher Bassett of Azure Cafe, Dan Crook of the Blue Wave Grill at the Wyndham Hotel, Jonathan Cartwright of the White Barn Inn, Harding Lee Smith of the Rooms, Jeff Landry of the Farmers Table, Joe Boudreau of Havana South and Mitchell Kaldrovich of Seaglass at the Inn by the Sea. Not pictured: Theda Lyden of the Harraseeket Inn.

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Chefs William Clifford of the Portland Harbor Hotel, Kelly Patrick Farrin of Azure Cafe in Freeport and Clifford Pickett of Dimillo's in Portland are the three finalists in the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition.

Additional Photos Below


WHEN: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 21

WHERE: Ocean View Room at Ocean Gateway


THERE ARE THREE CERTAINTIES in autumn in Maine: the leaves will change color, the days will get shorter, and the Grand Tasting at Harvest on the Harbor will sell out.

THE GRAND TASTING is a chance to sample the cuisine of numerous Maine chefs in a fun atmosphere with live music. Some of the chefs take the opportunity to try something a little different that's not normally on their menus.

IT'S GOOD EXPOSURE for the restaurants at a time when the summer crowds have gone back home and they need to start filling seats with locals again. It's also as much of a good time for the chefs – there are 17 participating this year – as it is for the people sampling their food.

"FOR ME, IT'S REALLY a good opportunity to talk to people that go out to eat a lot," said Eric Simeon, the chef at Grace in Portland. "And it's a good chance to co-mingle with other chefs and restaurant people."

CHEF CHRISTOPHER BASSETT of Azure Cafe in Freeport said it's a great way to expose several hundred people to his food in a single night. "You have to have a dish that definitely gives them a taste of your restaurant," he said, "but also makes a lasting memory really quick so they walk away from your table thinking about you. I like that opportunity."

CHEF JONATHAN CARTWRIGHT of the White Barn Inn calls the tasting and Harvest on the Harbor "a great event with a great following, and it gets bigger and bigger and better every year."

HERE'S A LOOK at what the 17 chefs will be serving at the Grand Tasting:

Chef Jeff Buerhaus, Walter's, Portland: Sake Kasu Tuna

Chef Eric Simeon, Grace, Portland: Seafood Sausage made with Maine shrimp and lobster

Chef Melissa Bouchard, DiMillo's, Portland: Seared Diver Scallop with Pumpkin Bisque and Bacon Jam

Chef Harding Lee Smith, The Rooms, Portland:

The Corner Room: Lamb Polpettine (Meatballs) with Porcini Mushroom-Goat Cheese Fondita; Chicken Liver Crostini

The Grill Room: Beef Tartare with Truffle Aioli

The Front Room: Cheddar Apple Bacon Grilled Cheese on Brioche

Chef Dan Crook, The Blue Wave Grille, The Wyndham Hotel, South Portland: Roasted CornAhiAvocadoTower with Caper-Lime Essence

Chef Alan Cook, Twenty Milk Street, Portland: Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese and Forest Mushroom Confit

Chef Christopher Bassett, Azure Cafe, Freeport: Saffron Poached Potato and Roasted Garlic Balsamic Glazed Lobster with Red Amaranth Microgreens

Chef Jeff Landry, The Farmer's Table, Portland: Housemade charcuterie, including Bresaola and some chicken- or pork-based pate. Also serving fall pickles, including basalmic pickled beets, onion, and carrots or squash

Chef Al Hynes, Black Point Inn, Prouts Neck: Lamb Chops Peperonata and Cream Puffs

Chef Charles White, Cinque Terre, Portland: Duck Consomme and Duck Confit with Apricot Mostarda

Chef Tony Lavelle, Solo Bistro, Bath: Cured Halibut with a Ginger Beet Glaze and a Pickled Onion Relish

Chef Justin Rowe, Chebeague Island Inn: Devils on Horseback – Great Hill blue cheese-stuffed date wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon

Chef Jay Villani, Sonny's, Portland: Seasonal ceviche

Chef Jonathan Cartwright, The White Barn Inn, Kennebunk: Yellowfin Tuna with a Coconut-Cucumber Marinade

Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich, Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, CapeElizabeth: Cured Salmon Tartare on Cones

Chef Theda Lyden, Harraseeket Inn, Freeport: Whipped Triple Creme on Tender Pastries with House-Dried Tomatoes and Thai Basil; Petite Lobster Mousse Eclairs

Chef Joe Boudreau, Havana South, Portland: Spice Rubbed Seared Rare Sushi Grade Yellowfin Tuna on a Flour Tortilla Chip with a Charred Local Fennel and Tomato Salsa; Roasted Lamb Tenderloin on Roasted Jalapeno, Corn and Potato Cake

"It's kind of the Cajun version of chowder," he said. "Everyone in New Orleans has got a different gumbo – one name, but a thousand recipes, just like peoples' chowders up north are totally different."

Ruoss will be getting help preparing his gumbo from the culinary arts students at Southern Maine Community College, his alma mater.

The students will be doing much of the prep work for him, and he'll arrive early Thursday morning to teach them how to prepare the gumbo before bringing it to Portland for the seafood splash.

"I'm looking forward to working with Will Beriau, who was my instructor 20 years ago and now he's going to be my sous chef, helping me out cooking all the stuff," Ruoss said, chuckling. "And I get to boss him around, finally. A little payback time. He's going to be doing the dishes."

Beriau remembers Ruoss as "a skinny kid, and very ambitious, well spoken, worldly, and very interested in cooking."

"Mike is a great example of a person that saw beyond the horizon and went out and really made something of himself," Beriau said. "And now he's coming back to share. I think this is an absolutely wonderful opportunity for our culinary students."

Other seafood that will be served at the splash includes shrimp and crab from Old Port Sea Grill, and lobster rolls from Portland Lobster Co.

Remember the Lobster Club Sandwich throwdown in Rockland? Lynn Archer of the Brass Compass Cafe will be preparing her "Princess Lobster Club," the sandwich that made Bobby Flay her, um well, let's just say she taught the Food Network star a thing or two.


WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 22

WHERE: Ocean View Room, Ocean Gateway



Will it be Herb Grilled Maine Lobster Tail on Arugula with Chive Ricotta Gnocchi & Corn Milk?

Or will it be the Rustic Maine Lobster and Butternut Squash Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts, Sage and Maple Bacon?

Maybe the judges will prefer the Steamed Maine Lobster & Sweet Corn Tamale with Creamy Chilis and Leeks.

Those are the three dishes that will be duking it out at this year's Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition, a cook-off that will be held in front of 200 people and be filmed for broadcast on the New England Sports Network. (Yes, cooking is apparently now a bona fide sport.)

This year's competitors are Chef William (Bill) Clifford, 42, the new chef at the Portland Harbor Hotel who will be making the lobster and butternut squash ravioli dish; Chef Clifford Pickett, 27, a banquet chef at DiMillo's in Portland who will be making the lobster and sweet corn tamale; and Chef Kelly Patrick Farrin, 27, of the Azure Cafe in Freeport, who will be making the herb grilled Maine lobster tail.

The winning chef gets a $1,000 prize and bragging rights for themselves and their restaurants.

The contest began with recipe submissions that were judged by Chef Sam Hayward of Fore Street restaurant in Portland; Chef Will Beriau, professor of culinary arts at Southern Maine Community College; Chef Steve Corry of Five Fifty-Five restaurant in Portland; and Kathleen Fleury of Downeast magazine.

Ticket holders to the event will get to watch the chefs prepare their dishes, taste them and then vote on a winner.


WHEN: 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 22

WHERE: Ocean View Room, Ocean Gateway



There should be a rule about having so much culinary talent in one room, kind of like the rule that says the president and his Cabinet have to be separated during national emergencies.

(Continued on page 4)

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Additional Photos

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Amy Bouchard of Wicked Whoopies will be preparing a signature Harvest whoopie pie for the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition on Oct. 22 at Ocean Gateway. These Whoop-de-Doos are her classic Wicked Whoopie dipped in chocolate.

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This apple and crab salad, made with local McIntosh apples, lightly dressed and served on endive, was prepared by Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich of Cape Elizabeth's Inn by the Sea for a preview of Harvest on the Harbor. Kaldrovich is one of 17 chefs who will be cooking for the Grand Tasting on the Harbor Oct. 21 at Ocean Gateway.

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Michael Ruoss will prepare his seafood gumbo for the Ultimate Seafood Splash.

Courtesy photo

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Zac Young will host the Sweet Stage on Oct. 23.

Courtesy photo


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