March 29, 2020
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Maine chefs sweep the lobster roll competition in New York

Courtesy of The Clam Shack
Courtesy of The Clam Shack
The Clam Shack of Kennebunkport, which produced this lobster roll, claimed the coveted Fan Favorite championship at the 2012 Tasting Table Lobster Roll Rumble. Owner Steve Kingston returned to New York City this year to defend the title.

The fourth annual Lobster Roll Rumble attracted more than 1,000 people when it was held in New York City Thursday, and once again, Maine chefs came up big.

The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport won the title of America’s Best Lobster Roll, in the competition sponsored by food news distributor Tasting Table, and Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland was named the Editor’s Choice.

The Clam Shack also won the Best Lobster Roll title in last year’s competition. The previous two years, the Rumble’s most coveted title was taken home by Luke Holden, a Cape Elizabeth native who owns a popular chain of Luke’s Lobster eateries in the New York and Washington, D.C., areas. Clam Shack owner Steve Kingston attributes his win to the rise of the lobster roll as a top delicacy.

“We have a very good reputation as a regional icon, and we’re starting to grow as a national icon,” Kingston said in an interview with the Bangor Daily News last month.

“We’ve done a few different shows on Food Network and Travel Channel and the Cooking Channel, and part of that has gotten us in the conversation to be invited [to the Lobster Roll Rumble]. Barbara Lynch, John Doherty, Marc Murphy — all these celebrity chefs have some version of a seafood restaurant or oyster bar, and all of them have some version of a lobster roll. These are major players with a lot of influence.”

This year four Maine-based operations — Eventide, the Clam Shack, Bite Into Maine in Cape Elizabeth and The Galley Restaurant & Pub in Naples — were among the 20 lobster rolls entered into the competition.

The Clam Shack’s lobster roll is a traditional combination of mayonnaise and butter with lobster meat tucked into a bun. Eventide uses brown butter and serves lobster on a steamed Asian-style bun, similar to a pork bun.

Eventide opened last year on Middle Street in Portland. It’s a new operation from the chefs and owners of Hugo’s Restaurant, currently closed for renovations, next door. The Clam Shack has been around since 1968, though it was purchased by current owner Kingston in 2000.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Eventide Oyster Co. is on Fore Street in Portland. The restaurant in on Middle Street.

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