Friday, December 6, 2013
By Meredith Goad firstname.lastname@example.org
If you just can't get enough of Harvest on the Harbor, Portland's big fall food and wine festival, you're in luck.
Southern Maine Community College culinary students competing in the Cutting Edge: Culinary College Competition include, front, left to right, Ensign Gerry, Audrey Carlson, Joe Lambert, Amanda Rock, Adam Robichaud and Megan Manseau; back, Marc Hill, Molly Jones, Leah Rothgaber, Kevin Ouellette, Nate Davies and Toan Nguyen.
Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
Michelle Ragussis, chef at The Pearl in Rockland and a finalist on the reality TV show “Food Network Star,” will host the event.
The festival, now in its fifth year, has been expanded to four days, and there are two new events designed to keep the menu of activities fresh.
The Grand Tasting has been moved to Wednesday evening, and the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year contest, normally on Friday, has been moved to Thursday.
There's a couple of different reasons for the addition of a day. First, every event sold out last year, so there's clearly demand out there. Second is Barbara Whitten's desire to have the Oct. 24-27 festival at least break even and not lose money this year.
The festival's budget is about $400,000, a figure that includes in-kind services from local businesses, according to Whitten, president of the Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau, organizer of the festival. The advertising budget takes the biggest bite, with a budget of more than $300,000. The huge tent that covers the Saturday marketplace costs $25,000. Then there's rent for Ocean Gateway, and the hiring of electricians and security.
"I think there's a misunderstanding of people thinking, wow, where does all that ticket money go?" Whitten said. "It costs a lot of money to put this event on, and we're not about making money on this event, we're about promoting the chefs, promoting the food scene, promoting Maine as a culinary travel destination, and bringing our next generation of chefs to life. If we can do that and not have it cost me a lot of money, that would be my goal for this year -- that we can break even."
In addition to the $400,000, the chefs who participate donate their food, their time and their staff's time. Vendors at the marketplace do the same, with many donating all products in addition to paying an exhibitor's fee so that they can get their products in front of a targeted audience.
Whitten says the investment has paid off, because the festival now brings in an estimated $2 million to the local economy. Sixty percent of festival visitors spend at least one night here, and most spend two nights, she said.
"Seventy percent of the people dine out in restaurants while they're here, and 80 percent or more shop in our area or attend area attractions," she said.
So, what's on tap for this year's festival? Here's what's happening, beginning with the two new events. (For tickets to events, go to harvestontheharbor.com.)
CUTTING EDGE: CULINARY COLLEGE COMPETITION
WHEN: Noon to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26
WHERE: Ocean View Room, Ocean Gateway, 14 Ocean Gateway Pier, Commercial Street
HOW MUCH: $65
WHAT ELSE: In addition to an appetizer and entree, this seated event will also include breads from Standard Baking Co., cheeses from Cabot Creamery Cooperative, dipping oils from Lakonia Greek Products, wines from USA Wine West, a dessert demonstration and tasting from Rosemont Market & Bakery and coffee from Coffee By Design.
It's not hard to predict who will win this competition for culinary scholarships.
It will be (putting on my Carnac the Magnificent hat)the team from Southern Maine Community College.
How do I know this? The organizers apparently asked all the other culinary schools in Maine to participate, and SMCC is the only one that stepped up to the plate for the main competition. So the school will be sending three teams of four students each to create an entree with salmon as the star ingredient.
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Kevin Walsh of Earth at Hidden Farm in Kennebunk is among the Top of the Crop competition finalists. The others are Shannon Bard of Zapoteca in Portland, Eric Flynn of Freeport’s Harraseeket Inn and Jeff Landry of The Farmer’s Table in Portland. Walsh is seen at last week’s Harvest on the Harbor preview at Ocean Gateway in Portland.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
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Ocean Gateway on the Portland waterfront is again the venue for Harvest on the Harbor. At last year’s Harvest, every event sold out.
2010 Press Herald file/Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer