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July 12, 2018

'World's best lobster roll' isn't made in Maine, again

Courtesy / Down East magazine
Courtesy / Down East magazine
BeetleCat Executive Chef Andrew Isabella's winning entry was made from “fresh Maine lobster meat and served on a buttery toasted slider bun,” Down East said in a press release.

The winner is in, and the "world's best lobster roll" for the second straight year ­­­­­comes from nowhere even close to Maine.

BeetleCat, a restaurant in Atlanta, took home the top honors in the Down East Lobster Roll World Championship, sponsored by Down East magazine.

Second place went to Freshies Lobster Co. of Park City, Utah, which won the inaugural cook-off in 2017 during an event that was eventually called off because of bad weather.

Bob's Clam Hut, of Kittery, took third in the international crustacean competition.

The top finishers were selected from 10 semifinalists, which included restaurants from as far as Paris, France (Homer Lobster) and Venice, Florida (Burgundy Square Café).

In addition to Bob's, four semifinalists represented Maine: Congdon's Doughnuts, of Wells; The Greeks of Peaks, Portland; Highroller Lobster Co., Portland; and Shannon's Unshelled, Boothbay Harbor. Summer Shack, Cambridge, Mass., owned by Boston restaurateur Jasper White, was also a semifinalist.

BeetleCat Executive Chef Andrew Isabella's winning entry was made from "fresh Maine lobster meat and served on a buttery toasted slider bun," Down East said in a press release.

More than 400 people, paying $100 apiece, attended the winners' selection at Thompson's Point in Portland, and voted electronically for their favorite rolls. Besides winning the $1,000 prize, Beetlecat will be featured in an upcoming issue of Down East.

Isabella is a Florida native, but "grew up fishing with his family," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Maine's modest showing in the competition comes as the state's $500 million lobster industry is already girding for a more serious threat: the impact of the Trump administration's tariffs on U.S. trade.

But there were some consolation from the Down East championship. While also from away, Freshies has a Maine connection: Co-Owner Ben Smaha grew up in Cape Elizabeth.

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