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Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Named

Chef Chris Long of Natalie’s, Camden Harbour Inn, Camden, Maine, was named the winner in this year’s Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition, and Gourmet News has his recipe!

Lobster Chef of the Year, 2013 Chris Long of Natalies in Camden, Maine

Photos by Ted Axelrod

Long was one of four Maine finalists selected to prepare lobster dishes in front of a live audience and judges. The judges’ voting resulted in a near-tie, with the audience vote ultimately determining Long as the winner. Long’s winning dish was a butter poached Maine lobster with grilled local mushrooms, corn, parsnip ragout and thyme butter. Click here for the recipe.

Other competitors included Jon Gaboric, also of Natalie’s, Shanna O’Hea of Academe at The Kennebunk Inn and Brandon Blethen of Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery.

Long’s winning dish is currently on the menu at Natalie’s Restaurant. Also featured will be Gaboric’s submission: butter poached lobster with a corn and miso puree, shaved radish salad, geoduck dressing, crispy quinoa and yuzu foam.

“This was a great opportunity for Chef Long to shine,” said Raymond Brunyanszki, owner of the Camden Harbour Inn and Natalie’s. “He’s truly gifted in his ability to craft unique dishes using Maine’s finest ingredients – a talent we’re proud to have in the kitchen at Natalie’s.” Brunyanszki added, “Lobster is Maine’s most famous food, we’ve always loved Maine lobster in our kitchen. One of our most popular offerings is our lobster tasting menu, four courses of lobster dishes, each highlighting the sweet, fresh flavor of the meat. This menu is available year-round.”

Natalie's Restaurant in Camden, MaineLong joined Natalie’s after working as Executive Chef at Spread Restaurant in Portland. Previous experience includes working as a leader in the kitchen at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and as an apprentice to Master Chef Hartmut Handke in the Bocuse d’Or World Cooking Contest in France. Long is a graduate of the Greenbriar Culinary Apprentice program in West Virginia. He has received gold and silver medals for competing in American Culinary Federation events.

Long took home a prize of $1,000 for winning the competition.

The competition was judged by Kathleen Fleury, Editor in Chief of Down East Magazine, Chef Abby Freethy of Northwoods Gourmet Girl in Greenville, and Emily Lane from Calendar Islands Maine Lobster Company.

The Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition is presented annually by the Maine Lobster Promotion Council.

Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Shares Recipe

Here’s Chef Chris Long’s recipe that earned him the title of Maine Lobster Chef of the Year:

1 lobster

2 ounces wild mushrooms

1 cup corn

1/2 cup chopped parsnips

1 cup corn stock

1 shallot, minced

1 pound butter

2 ounces thyme

1 lemon

Optional:

parsnip chips

micro arugula

basil flowers

Lobster Chef of the Year, 2013 Chris Long of Natalies in Camden, MaineBoil lobster in salted water, 7 minutes for claws and 3 minutes for tail, and shock in ice water. Take lobster out of shell and place claws and tail in 10 ounces of butter.

Chop thyme and fold in 4 ounces of butter and set aside.

Saute shallot in 2 ounces butter, add corn stock and reduce by half. Add corn, chopped parsnips and knuckle meat and the juice from half the lemon. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill mushrooms and set in lobster butter. Gently warm up butter to heat up lobsters. Place ragout in middle of the plate. Take lobster and mushrooms out of butter and season with salt and pepper and lemon juice.

Lobster Chef of the Year, 2013 Chris Long of Natalies in Camden, MaineLobster Chef of the Year, 2013 Chris Long of Natalies in Camden, MainePlace lobster and mushrooms over ragout. Spoon thyme butter around lobster and ragout. Garnish with parsnip chips, micro arugula and basil flowers.

 

Photos by Ted Axelrod.

Study Finds Women Still Making Family Food Decisions

For today’s retailers and manufacturers, it has become increasingly complicated to pinpoint who are today’s primary shoppers. Soccer moms? Working women? Men? In a new study commissioned by the Private Label Manufacturers Association, GfK Custom Research North America answers the questions with some surprising results.

The study shows that, despite radical changes in society, women still dominate the retail marketplace. Although women’s personal and professional advancements have grown significantly in recent decades, the time spent grocery shopping has not decreased.

According to the study, two-thirds of women say they still handle much of the grocery shopping and, furthermore, they still take the time to make the decisions with three quarters of them forming shopping lists and 53 percent taking time to clip coupons and search for specials. And 40 percent of women shoppers say they spend about an hour in the supermarket.

Women are also the rulers of the kitchen. Eighty-four percent of women still act as the sole preparer of meals in the household, with 61 percent of women stating they prepare meals at least five times per week. And the majority of these meals are not prepackaged meals that require a quick nuke in the microwave, 64 percent make most meals using fresh ingredients which generally take more time.

Aside from meal preparation and grocery shopping, women are also responsible for the other important household areas: Seven in ten women say cleaning the house is their job and three-fourths take on the majority of the laundry in the home. Since women are those making the purchases, they have become frequent store brand purchasers, with only three percent saying they never buy store brands.

The survey was conducted to assess the role the women play in household shopping and thus how marketing strategies would be impacted for U.S. retailers and store brand suppliers. The study included over 1,000 women who were pre-qualified as their household’s primary shopper. The results of the study do show that for the majority of women their roles in the household have not changed in any significant way.

Sweet Hot Saturday Night Supper

raspberrychipotleBy Lorrie Baumann

If this were Cosmo, I could tell you what Fischer & Wieser’s Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is best at, but since this is Gourmet News, let’s just observe that it’s red, and it introduces itself just as sweet as can be, but then you taste a soft heat, and it finishes with a long, slow, sweet burn on your lips. Oh, yes, it’s saucy.

I tried it first with a duck, and yes, it was perfectly fine with duck, nothing to complain of there. But then a few nights later, I put it on the table with some pan-roasted pork chops, and oh sweet mama, this sauce takes pork to a place where pigs do not get to go.

Roland Barley CouscousFor a Saturday night supper, serve it with Roland All Natural Barley Couscous. It’s incredibly easy — you just pour some boiling water over it, let it sit for a few minutes, and then fluff it with a fork — and it will not distract from the main event. Plate your pork on top of the couscous and lay the Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce down next to it. Garnish with a green salad with a simple vinaigrette. But before you do all this, run the linens through the laundry and get yourself into the shower. It’s gonna be a long night; better start out fresh.

The Makers of Johnnie Walker Scotch Introduce Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

JOHNNIE WALKER GOLD LABEL RESERVE

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve arrives to the U.S. this fall in a striking and festive, reflective gold bottle. Previously only available in select global markets, the limited offering introduces a new step in the Johnnie Walker flavor journey and its special bottling provides an unexpected yet stunning profile for a Scotch whisky.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve represents the gold standard in blending. The luxurious, multi-layered whisky offers a smooth balance of sweet fruits and creaminess with a light smoke.

The flavors of Gold Label Reserve pop over ice and brighten when served as a tall drink with handcrafted soda water infused with fruits such as grapefruit or lemon.

“Gold Label Reserve features some of my favorite whiskies, including casks of Clynelish single malt Scotch whisky, whose water source flows from the Kildonan Hills – where gold was discovered in 1868,” said Master Blender Jim Beveridge. “It’s an exciting blend that offers a distinct new flavor for current Johnnie Walker fans and an appealing taste for people newer to Scotch whisky.”

From its flavor profile and suggested serve to its unique bottle design, the Master Blender crafted this smooth and luxurious blend for responsible enjoyment during celebratory moments and spirited nightlife occasions.

“The Johnnie Walker journey continues as we introduce this striking offering to the U.S. for a limited time,” said Brian Radics, Director of Scotch Whisky, Diageo. “Gold Label Reserve provides consumers with a unique flavor for high energy celebrations that may not have been traditionally looked at as a Scotch whisky occasions.”

The suggested retail price of the limited time offering of Gold Label Reserve in its special bottle is $87 (750ml).

Wild Sweets Wins Silver at International Chocolate Awards

Wild SweetsWild Sweets® By Dominique & Cindy Duby won a silver medal for its certified organic Walnut, Fig & Fennel Seeds chocolate bar at the 2013 International Chocolate Awards competition, which took place in London, England earlier this month. The competition judged the best of the best – gold and silver winners and finalist nominations from more than 800 products entered into the European and Americas semi-finals and the Israeli, Italian and Canadian national competitions.

The International Chocolate Awards was set up to recognize the best fine quality chocolate from around the world. The awards are designed to reflect international tastes and offer a level playing field for international entries. The judging panel is made up of experts, food journalists and pastry chefs from the host country, overseen by a grand jury who travel to each competition. More than 13,500 judging forms were completed in all competitions in 2013, by more than 300 judges worldwide.

 
This is not the first award for Wild Sweets. In the fall of 2012 it won several gold medals as well as the Best Overall Chocolate Bar (cocoa bean-to-bar) competition. Wild Sweets was also a recipient of the 2013 Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America Awards from TasteTV and the International Chocolate Salon. This spring, Wild Sweets won a bronze medal at the 2013 Academy of Chocolate competition in London, England. Wild Sweets also won several gold medals as well as the Best Overall Chocolate Bar and Best Caramels at the 2013 Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon in May 2013. This fall, Wild Sweets won several gold and silver medals as well as overall ‘Top Chocolate Bar’ Award at the 2013 International Chocolate Salon in San Francisco, USA.

Wild Sweets By Dominique & Cindy Duby is Canada’s only science-based artisan cocoa bean-to-bar chocolate-maker. It evolved from a three-year research and development project in collaboration with the University of British Columbia and is scheduled to culminate in the opening of a brand new virtual chocolate boutique concept next month (more details will follow soon). For more information on the cocoa bean-to-bar process at Wild Sweets® By Dominique & Cindy Duby, visit The Process page on the company’s website.

Quality, Service and Ambiance Create a Neighborhood Shopping Experience at The Fresh Market

By Lorrie Baumann

TheFreshMarket2-SRThe Fresh Market is a chain of 145 stores in the Southeastern, Northeastern, Midwestern and Great Plains regions of the United States. The chain has recently expanded into Houston, Texas and into the California market with four stores—one in Palo Alto and three in the Sacramento area. One more California store was under construction at press time. The Santa Barbara store is expected to be opening in December. The Fresh Market stores rely on quality, service and ambiance as the ingredients that create a relaxed, comfortable and friendly environment, bringing customers in to buy the fresh foods they will serve their families.

“Our focus is on providing customers with high-quality food and excellent service in a unique atmosphere, and our stores are designed to encourage interaction between customers and employees,” said Craig Carlock, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Fresh Market for the past five years. Carlock has been with the company for 14 years, originally coming over to the company from Procter & Gamble.

“I was attracted to the food concept, the growth, and the chance to be part of a special company,” Carlock says, explaining the unusual move from the manufacturing conglomerate to grocery retailing. “The chance to contribute to a growing enterprise draws a lot of people to The Fresh Market. I have found that we can attract very talented people because they want to be part of growing something from a regional brand into a national one.”

Customers will meet a lot of those talented people in The Fresh Market stores. In the produce department, there is a store employee on the floor at all times. The bakery, seafood and meat departments are always staffed with people behind the counter. “There’s service all around the store,” Carlock says.

The Fresh Market stores average 20,000 square feet and have about 10,000 items in stock, with a total of 20,000 items moving in and out over the course of the year. Each store has a full-service bakery, full-service prepared foods and deli department, a convenient selection of frozen foods, beer and wine, bulk snacks and nuts, candies and fresh-ground and whole bean coffee. The chain is also testing single-cup coffee service in a couple of locations.

Quality is ensured through demanding specifications in every category. Carlock says, “The quality is such that it’s hard to find that kind of food at other places.”

The stores strive to create a gentle, relaxed ambiance through soft lighting, tile floors, soothing music and the aroma of baked goods wafting from the bakery. These and other things are designed to help customers enjoy their time in the store. “We sample coffee throughout the day. We carry your groceries to the car,” Carlock says. “Quality, service and ambiance are really the three ways we think about bringing the customer to the market. We think all of that together creates a great experience…One of the things that happens in our stores naturally is that customers tend to slow down and enjoy the experience. There is an element of ease. Over time, many of our customers develop relationships with our employees. If you’re in there two or three times a week, you’ll learn the names and faces of the people who are helping you. Although we’re a chain, we strive to develop the name and style of a neighborhood market that’s part of the community. People and food that you can trust.”

TheFreshMarket1-SRThe passion behind those watchwords helps to explain why the chain is growing at a robust 15 percent per year, by store count. The chain slowed from that pace, intentionally, during the recession but resumed its growth at that rate in 2010. The stores in Houston and California opened within the past 12 months. Other stores opened this year in Charlottesville, Va., Aiken, S.C., Lincolnshire, Ill., Mt. Lebanon, Penn., Orlando, Fla., Overland Park, Kan., Lynchburg, Va., Naples, Fla. and Birmingham, Ala. Seven more stores are set to open by year end.

“We want to put our stores where the customers are. Our real estate strategy is to find trade areas where customers will be receptive to our fresh food and our ambiance,” Carlock says. That decision about the likelihood of a welcoming reception is based more on education levels and active lifestyle than on affluence, since The Fresh Market does well in middle-income neighborhoods as well as in wealthier ZIP codes. “We have found that people enjoy food, enjoy service and enjoy ambiance all around the country,” Carlock says. “People of all income levels come in.”

“Some of our customers use us as a primary grocery store and are there a couple of times per week, and others shop us for special occasions,” he continues. “People who come in regularly are usually using a European style of shopping, where they’ll buy fresh items for tonight and tomorrow night, and then they’ll come back a couple of days later and get another set of fresh items.” With a 20,000 square footprint, the stores are easy to get into and out of. This facilitates a European style shopping experience. According to Carlock, although customers become familiar with the core 10,000 items in stock, learning exactly where to find them in the store, the flow of those other 10,000 seasonal products helps to generate a sense of adventure as well.

The stores add to that sense of adventure with frequent sampling programs and monthly chef demonstrations. Local chefs demonstrate recipes and offer tastings. “During a three-hour period, our chefs prepare the month’s featured recipe two or three times, so customers can see step-by-step how to prepare it, and can sample it as well,” says Drewry Sackett, The Fresh Market’s Community and Public Relations Manager. Decisions about featured products and recipes are made at the corporate level and then promulgated throughout the chain. Recipes are posted on the company’s website along with a video of the demonstration, so that customers who are excited enough to try it at home can refer to the website when their memories fail.

“We try to focus on recipes and products that lend themselves to easy weeknight dinners. Chefs cook on a gas cooktop, so they only prepare recipes that can be done easily and quickly in a single pan, which our customers appreciate,” Sackett says. “The recipes are paired with wines (in the stores that carry wine), so they’ll sample the recipe along with a specific wine. In addition to the demonstrations, we invite customers to join us for the regular sampling events, where they can come in and try products that might be new to them. Our events are always centered around the food experience.”

 

Tartufo Caciocavallo

Forever Cheese is now offering the new Tartufo Caciocavallo – a 2.5-pound stretched curd caciocavallo with black truffles. The cheese has arrived just in time for the holidays and its beautiful and delicious.

Cheesemaker and owner Remo has been making cheese since 1989 but cheesemaking has been in the family bloodline since 1976. Remo loves seeing the results of what he makes with his own hands; he said it is the ultimate satisfaction for him. He loves also that he can make a difference in such an ailing economy, especially in Southern Italy, offering his employees not just a job but a family in which all of them are passionate about the cheese they make.

A specialty of Forever Cheese inc, LIC, NY Forevercheese.com

Fruit Center Marketplace Raises Funds for Schools

For the fourth consecutive year, Fruit Center Marketplace will support 19 public and private schools located in its primary business areas, Milton and Hingham, with a unique week of fund-raising that allows parents to raise funds for the school of their choice while they shop for groceries.  This is just one of countless ways, over the past 40 years, that this local gourmet grocer gives back to the communities it serves.

The program shines because it’s so simple: Consumers first download a voucher from the Fruit Center Marketplace website. The vouchers designate which school that the consumer intends to benefit from funds that are raised while shopping. Then the vouchers are presented at checkout during the week of November 11-15. Each voucher can be used an unlimited number of times. Finally, Fruit Center tallies the dollar amount of each individuals’ purchases during that week, and donates 20 percent of it to the designated school: $100 spent = $20 donated.

In 2012, says Fruit Center Marketplace marketing director Mike Dwyer, more than $10,000 was donated to participating schools.  The key, he adds, is for the schools themselves to alert parents of this opportunity, and to encourage a major shopping spree on behalf of education.  Printed vouchers can be used during regular store hours between Monday, November 11 and Friday, November 15, inclusive. Further details are at www.fruitcentermarketplace.com/givingback.

Produce Industry Focuses on Driving Demand at PMA’s Fresh Summit

8179980558_a7e586a43e_oIncreasing the appeal of and demand for fresh produce was the focus when the world’s fresh produce industry gathered in New Orleans October 18-20 at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Convention and Expo.

A major highlight of the event came when executives from the White House, the restaurant industry and a leading produce company joined PMA’s senior executive to call on the produce industry to focus its marketing efforts on creating more demand for fresh produce, particularly among children. Speaking to about 1,000 produce industry leaders, Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass joined National Restaurant Association President Dawn Sweeney, Bolthouse Farms CEO Jeff Dunn and PMA President and CEO Bryan Silbermann to discuss how the produce industry can transform its efforts from fulfilling demand to creating demand.

During the discussion, Kass – speaking by a remote feed from Washington, D.C., to attendees in New Orleans – reiterated how the produce industry can support the call to action to use the power of marketing to promote healthier choices, particularly among kids.

“The produce industry is sharpening its marketing efforts to help encourage better eating habits for children and adults alike,” said Silbermann. “It’s a collaborative effort that has a variety of benefits like better health and better business.”

Meanwhile, the Fresh Summit trade show was a buffet of mouth-watering fresh produce colors, aromas and flavors. More than 1,000 companies displayed their wares across 250,000 square feet, showcasing products from traditional fruit and vegetable favorites to the latest exotic and specialty items.

A multitude of new products were unveiled at Fresh Summit, appealing to a consumer’s eye, palate and wallet. Some of those new products for kids included:

This year PMA’s Fresh Summit drew more than 18,000 produce and floral industry attendees from more than 60 countries. In addition to being the largest U.S. gathering of the global fresh produce and floral industries, Fresh Summit is also one of the 100 largest trade shows held in the United States.

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