The Wrap: Portland chef heads to New Orleans to compete in Great American Seafood Cook-Off

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Portland chef Dila Maloney will face off Saturday against 12 other chefs from around the country at the 18th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans.

Chef Dila Maloney of Dila’s Kitchen in Portland will compete against a dozen chefs in the 18th Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Dila’s Kitchen

Maloney, owner of Turkish-themed Dila’s Kitchen in Monument Square, applied to compete in the event this spring, and learned within a couple of weeks that she’d been accepted. “I was scared and excited. I’m very new to owning my own restaurant,” said Maloney, 33, who opened Dila’s Kitchen less than a year ago.

Contestants are expected to prepare a seafood dish using ingredients representative of their home state. Maloney said she will make lobster skewers – kebabs are a specialty of Dila’s Kitchen – seasoned with traditional Turkish spices and served with a haddock butter sauce.

Maloney will have one hour to complete five lobster skewer dishes for the judging panel. “Honestly, I think I’ve got it in the bag,” she laughed. “I know how to prepare meals fast.”

BREAD & FRIENDS BAKERY/CAFE TO OPEN BY YEAR’S END

The Bread & Friends team plans to start work this month on the Fore Street space that will become its 3,000-square foot, brick-and-mortar home by December, if all goes according to plan.

Maggie Rubin, one of Bread & Friends’ four partners, said they expect building the bakery and cafe inside the space they are leasing at 505 Fore St. will take about three months. The cafe area will have 1,000 square feet of floor space and about 25 seats, Rubin said, with the bakery and pastry area taking the remainder of the footage.

For now, Bread & Friends continues to sell its artisanal breads, pastries, pickles and jams online and at area farmers’ markets, as well as at more than 30 stores in Southern Maine.

The casual daytime restaurant will offer an “elevated” breakfast and lunch menu and counter service. “There will be a lot of synergy between the restaurant and the bakery and pastry side of things. We’re trying to make it feel really cohesive,” she said.

The cafe’s coffee program features Bolt Coffee from Providence, Rhode Island. The bakery will be equipped with a wood-fired oven and a grain mill from New American Stone Mills in Vermont.

The four Bread & Friends partners worked in renowned California bakeries and restaurants like Tartine and State Bird Provisions before moving to Maine.

CRISPY GAI X TURKEY AND THE WOLF COLLABORATIVE BRUNCH

Portland’s Crispy Gai is to host Mason Hereford, one of New Orleans’ most talented, quirky and fun chefs, for a collaborative brunch party this month.

Acclaimed chef Mason Hereford of Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans, shown with a stuffed friend and his restaurant’s fried bologna sandwich, is collaborating with Crispy Gai for a brunch party this weekend. Photo courtesy William Hereford

Hereford operates New Orleans’ Turkey and the Wolf, which Bon Appetit magazine named restaurant of the year for 2017, and GQ and Food & Wine magazines included in their lists of the most important American restaurants of the 2010s. His funky, counter-service-only restaurant made a name for itself by specializing in exceptionally well-crafted, offbeat sandwiches like their fried bologna sandwich or collard green melt.

Hereford is now touring the country to promote his new, best-selling cookbook, “Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Tripping in New Orleans.” The Crispy Gai appearance on Aug. 21 will be his only stop in Maine.

Tickets are $50 for the event, which has three seatings: 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite, and include food from the Turkey and the Wolf cookbook – prepared with a Crispy Gai twist – and a signed copy of the cookbook. Special cocktails and mocktails will be available a la carte.

MONKFISH STEW NOW ON HANNAFORD SHELVES

Hannaford supermarkets announced this week that they’ve partnered with the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association to sell the group’s monkfish stew at five of its locations in Maine.

The stew is part of the association’s initiative to help feed hungry Maine residents, called Fishermen Feeding Mainers. Since February, the association has sold its Maine Coast Monkfish Stew at more than a dozen stores statewide, where it comes frozen in 16-ounce and 24-ounce sizes.

Proceeds from the sales are used to purchase fresh local fish, which are then donated to schools, food banks and community groups statewide. The Hannaford locations that carry the stew are in Falmouth, Kennebunk, North Windham, Yarmouth and York. A Hannaford spokesperson added that plans are underway to stock the stew in more Hannaford markets.

Cooked and packaged by Hurricane’s Premium Soups and Chowders in Greene, the monkfish stew uses local, sustainably harvested monkfish and Maine potatoes, along with carrots, cream and lobster stock.

In addition to raising funds for hunger relief, the stew also is “a way for us to introduce consumers to a local and sustainably sourced seafood choice largely unfamiliar to them and to support Maine’s fishermen,” Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association Executive Director Ben Martens said.

Since launching two years ago, the Fishermen Feeding Mainers program has provided more than 400,00o meals, according to association officials.

THE SHOP OPENS SERVICE WINDOW

The Shop by Island Creek Oysters, located on Washington Avenue, has opened a seasonal service window to sell summertime treats.

The new service window on the side of The Shop’s building sells soft-serve ice cream, frappes, frozen lemonade and gussied-up hot dogs.

The Shop on Washington Avenue has opened a summer service window to sell soft-serve ice cream, frappes, hot dogs and more. Jamie Mercurio photo

Menu items for the window include a Maine maple soft-serve, with walnut butter crunch and local blueberry jam ($6), a vanilla-lemon shortbread malt frappe ($6) and a fancy dog with seaweed salad, kewpie mayonnaise and crispy onions.

The offerings are a departure for The Shop, a high-end seafood market and eatery. The service window is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 12-9 p.m.

FORK FOOD LAB CELEBRATES WILD BLUEBERRIES

Shared commercial kitchen Fork Food Lab is hosting an event Saturday featuring a variety of sweet and savory goodies made with Maine’s wild blueberries.

About 15 Food Fork Lab members will whip up dishes showcasing the versatility of the berries in everything from scones and tiramisu to hot sauces and vinaigrettes. The blueberries to be used for the event were donated by Wyman’s Blueberries, event organizers said.

The makers will have limited quantities of samples available, with many of the special dishes available only for sale. The event starts at 9 a.m. at Food Fork Lab on Parris Street, and runs until 1 p.m. or until supplies run out. Entrance is free, but prior registration is preferred.

SUNDAY ON THE HALF SHELL EVENT AT HELM

Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro is featuring Mere Point Oyster Company this Sunday afternoon as part of its Sundays on the Half Shell series.

The event runs from 3-6 p.m. on the oyster bar’s patio at 60 Thames St. Kelly Punch from Mere Point will be on hand to answer questions about the company’s oysters as Helm’s chefs shuck them to order.

Helm described Mere Point’s oysters as “salty and sweet, with crisp, dense meat and a bright, earthy finish.” The event also features $5 beer and $7 cocktails and wine specials.


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