Rockland has the Maine Lobster Festival, where every summer the king crustacean is celebrated 100 ways to Sunday. Now, this July, Portland hosts the state’s first Lobster Roll Festival, calling chefs from across the country to compete for a new title: World’s Best Lobster Roll.
Who rolls the tastiest version in the land of Maine’s signature sandwich?
The inaugural fest, put on by Down East Magazine, aims to find out at Thompson’s Point.
“We all know Maine has the best lobster rolls in the world, and this festival is a chance for us to prove it while enticing people from near and far to come to Portland to experience the bounty of the Maine coast,” said Kathleen Fleury, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
The event picks up where the now-defunct Lobster Roll Rumble, held in New York City, left off. For three years The Clam Shack in Kennebunk swept the competition. In 2013 Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland won too. After working on a story on the definitive history of the lobster roll, the magazine decided it was time to step up, reclaim the showdown and bring it home.
“The goal of the event is to illuminate the spirit and culture of Maine by offering an afternoon of some good old-fashioned summer fun,” said Fleury.
Steve Kingston, owner of The Clam Shack, is ready.
“I’m psyched,” he said. “This is our product. Maine has blueberry pie and lobster rolls. The competition belongs in Maine.”
And, like the New York rumble, it’s expected to draw top chefs from all over.
A dozen cooks from Maine to California, and everywhere in between, will be selected to compete. During the event ticket holders can vote for the top three rolls. Then a panel of judges will crown one king of the roll. Food, music and Allagash beer is part of the day-long bash.
Restaurants and vendors specializing in the portable delicacy must enter online by May 8 to compete. May the mightiest roll win!
Down East Lobster Roll Festival is July 8, Thompson’s Point, Portland.