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Seafood Throwdown Maine-Style

Seafood Throwdown graphicHi, my name is Cynthia. I am stationed at the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) headquarters most of the time working on the day to day ins and outs of our nonprofit; but sometimes I get out and enjoy Seafood Throwdowns with our Partners.  On Saturday, June 27th, I’m taking a road trip to an extraordinary Seafood Throwdown, which will take place as part of Maine Fare on the waterfront in Belfast, Maine with our partners Penobscot East Resource Center and Maine Farmland Trust.  If you haven’t heard about Seafood Throwdowns, here is a little bit about them:

Fish cooking in the pan

A Seafood Throwdown is a friendly cooking competition between two local chefs. When the competition starts the chefs are given $25 to shop at the local farmers market and are introduced to the secret ingredient, ‘The Mystery Fish.’ Some may have never seen this Mystery Fish before because it is not the ordinary fish that we all see in the markets.  But… it’s very ordinary for the fishermen to see this species every time they go out.  What do the fishermen do with it when they catch the Mystery fish? They throw it back into the ocean because there is no demand for these species. We call them the under-loved, underutilized, and underappreciated fish of the ocean.  Together we can build a demand for these species and it starts here!  At the Seafood Throwdown the chefs take this under-loved fish and create an amazing dish for all to taste.  They get 1 hour to create, plate, and present their dish to a panel of judges. The judges score the chefs on the following criteria: use of the whole animal, taste, presentation, and originality.  While the chefs are cooking, the attendees get a play by play of the action; at Maine Faire, the Emcee will be Kathy Gunst of NPR and famous author of many cookbooks!

Chef presenting fish dishSo come enjoy the show and this lovely setting at the Steamboat Landing Park on the waterfront for an extraordinary Seafood Throwdown! Prepare for your senses to be woken up by the aromas of the mystery fish and local produce cooking under the tent. So much to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste! This Seafood Throwdown will take place in Belfast on the main stage at the Steamboat Landing Park from 12:30 to 2:30pm.  You don’t want to miss this one, see you there!


Cynthia Bush is Finance Coordinator and Program Associate at NAMA. To learn more about the Seafood Throwdown, including other events in VT and MA, check out the NAMA website.

 Crowd Pleaser Alert!  The players are: 

 The Chefs: 

Michele Levesque chef and co-owner of El Frijoles in Sargentville. Michele has been adding flavor to the Blue Hill peninsula since 2006.  From her unassuming barn-turned-restaurant, Michele serves up traditional Mexican street food made with the finest and freshest local ingredients.

Tom Sigler is the owner and chef of Comida in Rockland. Tom's culinary expertise spans from southern Creole to classic French, and the menu at Comida reflects his affection for Latin and Spanish flavors. He's cooked in restaurants from New York to Florida, but is continually blown away by the quality of the produce and seafood that he can source from farmers and fishermen in Midcoast Maine.

The Judges: There will be 5 Judges in this event, each judging the chefs creations by 4 categories:

Taste (10 points), Use of the whole animal (10 points), Presentation (5 points), and Originality (5 points).

#1-Sam Talbot is a Celebrity Chef!  

#2-Gary Libby is a commercial fisherman from Port Clyde, where he owns and operates the groundfish vessel Leslie & Jessica.  

#3-Ben Conniff is a food writer and vice president of the popular restaurant Lukes Lobster. 

#4-Kerry Altiero is a local chef from Cafe' Miranda.  

#5-Chellie Pingree is a current US Congresswoman for Maine's first district. She is a former organic farmer, and currently owns Nebo Lodge and Turner Farm on North Haven Island.

The Emcee: Kathy Gunst  recently received a 2015 James Beard Award for Journalism and is the author or co-author of countless articles and 13 cookbooks, including Notes from a Maine Kitchen. She is also the resident chef for "Here and Now" on NPR.

Featured Image of Portland Fish Exchange courtesy of Susan Tompkins, Rising Tide PR