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Top chefs join forum to help support Maine fishing industry

by Kathleen Pierce, Bangor Daily News

ROCKPORT, Maine — They fist-bumped a James Beard chef, knocked back pollock and mahogany quahog ceviche, and remarked on the wonders of a handheld lobster smoker.

Amid the heady discussions of shrimp regulation, advancements in clamming and the state of elver fishing, 70 fishermen, farmers and aquaculturists gathered at the Samoset Resort in Rockport last week to celebrate Maine’s marine bounty.

For the first time in 40 years, four top chefs joined the Maine Fishermen’s Forum to put on a dazzling display of new kitchen trends for familiar and emergent food from the sea.

Echoing farm to table, chef Barton Seaver whipped out a smoking gun to turn Maine lobster into a delicacy served atop gourmet seaweed salad — and the crowd went wild.

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In keeping with the mantra “sell the dish, not the fish,” he laid out smoked lobster on seaweed salad and sauteed kelp with blood orange and onion.

“I was using lobster to introduce them to kelp,” said Seaver. “It’s restorative and an opportunity for the working waterfront. It’s healthy and nutritious, a huge economic opportunity in Maine.”