Chef Blythe Beck along with the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaboration (MLMC) hosted “Maine After Midnight” at Pink Magnolia, Beck’s restaurant, to introduce a taste of Maine lobster to Dallas. Amid chatting with lobstermen, their families and local chefs and, of course, consuming tasty lobster treats, we were also educated on the natural sustainability model within the lobster industry.
The event allowed attendees to sample both Maine hard shell and new shell lobster; new shell lobster being a seasonal delicacy. As explained by Frank Gotwals, a Maine lobsterman, Maine New Shell Lobster is known for its culinary diversity, being softer and naturally saltier in flavor than traditional hard shell lobster that is firmer and with a more plain taste. Other lobster samplings, courtesy of Pink Magnolia’s kitchen, included lobster jalapeño poppers, chicken-fried lobster tail, lobster deviled eggs, street corn with lobster and grilled pimento cheese sandwiches.
The highlight of the event was not only the lobster but also the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions with many of the lobstermen. Considered a hidden gem, the Maine Lobster industry has a rich history, which they were happy to share.
Meet Dustin Delano, 27, who has been lobster fishing since he was five years old with his father and grandfather, both lobstermen themselves. He received his own license at the age of ten and managed his boat on his own with 25 traps. By the time he was in high school, had over 700 traps.
Now, he begins his day at 2 a.m. on his boat named “Knotty Lady,” and averages trapping between 400-1000 pounds of lobster daily.
“The beauty of the lobster industry is that there is no lobster ‘farming’; it’s all caught wild,” he said. “The regulations are set by the lobstermen without government interference.”
“The lobstermen work together to make the Maine Lobster industry is the most sustainable fishery in the world,” Delano noted. “We hand-measure every lobster, every day. We mark female lobsters with notches to ensure lobster breeding continues. The lobsterman, himself, must be present on his boat in order for it to out. While I’m in Dallas, my guys can’t just take my boat out. I have to be on it. I think it’s important to share our story, our communities, and the product that is our livelihood with chefs and media.”
And a naturally sustainable industry it is indeed. Chef Barton Seaver has made it a part of his personal mission to help promote sustainability. As a young chef, Seaver shared that he went out to save the world and quickly realized what needed saving was us.
“We don’t need to change the environment. We need to change ourselves and how we interact with it,” Seaver commented. “When it comes to the idea of sustainability and ecology of decisions, the story of Maine Lobster represents sustainability from a human dynamic better so than any other fishery. It’s a legacy fishery. it’s one of America’s first fisheries; you have fishing families where 5th, 6th generation are on the boat. As one of America’s unique food items, lobster is a national treasure and it’s overseen by 5,000 lobstermen and women who own and operate small businesses. These are perfect examples of rugged American individualism. These are the really sexy underpinnings of our culture.”
Matt Jacobson, executive director of the MLMC, rocks his lobster-themed sneakers while sharing more of the Maine lobster industry’s story. The MLMC recognizes that sustainability is not just focused on preserving the fishery but also protecting the men and women that work in the industry.
“Thirty years ago we caught 30 million pounds [of lobster]and in the last five years, that number has gone up to 130 million pounds,” Jacobson commented. “We can only catch what the ocean gives us because there is a natural sustainability model in place, which in turn, has rewarded us. There’s still the same number of lobstermen as there were a 100 years ago.”
For those hesitant of trying to cook lobster at home, Chef Beck suggests starting out with Maine New Shell lobster which is currently in season.
“There’s no labor, 100% yield, it’s already seasoned [from the sea water],” Beck said. “I love the Maine lobstermen. They are rock stars.”
The MLMC continues to share the amazing story about the Maine lobstermen and their families. It’s important to the economy as well as to preserving their way of life. And it doesn’t hurt that their product tastes delicious.
Chef Seaver’s last words at the event were regarding the Maine lobster industry and our community’s need to have more positive action.
“The action of sustainability is being a good neighbor. The action of eating is recognition and diversity is the corner of healthy.”
We’d like to thank the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC), Chef Blythe Beck and all staff at Pink Magnolia for inviting Piyusha to cover this event.
For more information on Maine Lobster, please visit www.lobsterfrommaine.com
For more information on Pink Magnolia, please visit www.pinkmagnoliadallas.com