August 1, 2012

Soup to Nuts: Lobster bake 2.0

The classic Maine summer feast has evolved in myriad ways from its fire-pit-on-the-beach beginnings.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Courtney MacIsaac, right, is the owner of the Maine Lobsterbake Co., which caters a lot of corporate events and wedding-related gatherings. She and server Cheryl Scribner-Rocha survey a steamer filled with lobsters and corn at a recent bake on Peaks Island.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Courtney MacIsaac perpares strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Additional Photos Below


A LOBSTER BAKE is a messy meal, and most people don't want to deal with the clean-up. Courtney MacIsaac of Maine Lobster Bake Co. composts all the waste from her lobster bakes. On Peaks Island, any leftover food goes to the local pigs, while strawberry tops and corn husks go to the horses. On the mainland, she takes the waste to Alewives Farm, including compostable plates and bowls. The rubber bands are taken off the lobster claws before they go into the cooker, and MacIsaac gives them back to her lobstermen so they can reuse them.


YOU CAN FIND contact information for companies that put on lobster bakes, including the ones mentioned in this column, at

Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport is also throwing weekly lobster bakes this summer that are open to the public. For more information, go to


He views the seaweed as just an added step. "Lobsters come right out of the salty water, you know. They already have enough sea juice in them, so to speak."

Toennis said he cooks items separately so he won't end up with undercooked potatoes and overcooked lobsters. He also doesn't have to worry about people with shellfish allergies falling ill when they eat corn or potatoes cooked in the same pot as the lobster.

"There's a certain amount of nostalgia to having a fire on the beach type of thing, but people only have so much patience," Toennis said. "They might go over there and check it out, then they'll go back to the tent or the bar or their lounge chair and mingle and chitchat. As it is, we cook with gas and we still get onlookers."

Oliver notes that caterers understandably want to have a fair amount of control over the outcome of the meal, "and when you're working with natural fire and rocks, unless you've done this a lot, you can get some variability in the outcome, and that makes people nervous."

She also notes that cooking over an open fire gives everything a "seaweedy, smoky flavor" that many people like, but might be offputting to customers who aren't expecting it.

Using modern technology, Oliver said, can make a lobster bake more economical and less labor-intensive.

"When labor was part of the recreation, it was different. There's something about a New Englander that thinks that working hard is fun."

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

twitter: Meredith Goad


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Additional Photos

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At the recent annual feast thrown by the Portland law firm Thompson & Bowie LLP and catered by Maine Lobsterbake, Tom Marczak, left, Roy Thompson and Mark Franco dig in.

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Cheryl Scribner-Rocha, Courtney MacIsaac and Jim Dinsmore plate servings of lobster and corn.

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Maine Lobsterbake head chef Jim Dinsmore loads the food into an insulated container to keep warm until dinner is served.

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Courtney MacIsaac stirs the clam chowder that will be the first course.


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