“Real Maine Food” cookbook in the works

luke's lobster roll

The men behind the successful string of urban seafood shacks Luke’s Lobster are working on a cook book. Ben Conniff, who partnered with Cape Elizabeth’s Luke Holden to launch the Maine-centric eateries in New York, Philly and D.C. in 2009, is scouring the coast and The County in search of “Real Maine Food.”

What is he finding?

“The story of farmers and fisherman cooking Maine ingredients, and what their day to day life is like,” said Conniff, 28. “Some recipes are from the farmers themselves, some will be from Maine chefs.”

When the book, being published by New York’s respected Rizzoli Publications, comes out in spring 2015 expect to see less about their growing fast-serve biz and more about Maine’s burgeoning food culture.
Spreads on Bangs Island Mussels, wisdom from a day boat scalloper, the delights of hiramasa (Maine yellow tail) raised via aquafarming and edible insights from apple god John Bunker.
luke's lobsters
The company does not operate restaurants in Maine, but processes its lobster in Saco at a facility called Cape Seafood. “Because we are not a full service restaurant, we are very limited menu. The point is to focus on Maine food,” said Conniff, of his first cookbook. Portland food photog Stacey Cramp lends her artistic eye to the project.

Recipes from Holden and Conniff, such as lobster, crab and shrimp rolls and clam chowder, pepper the book, but the company’s genius is its brevity. Their love for Maine food compels them to see the big picture.

“We have no kitchens, it’s like a deli, we cook all our lobster in Saco,” said Conniff. “It’s simple, but you don’t need much when you have the best ingredient on earth.”


Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.