Culinary Exchange between Maine and France Will Support Maine Scallops

A group of chefs, seafood professionals, writers, economic development specialists and educators will travel to France in April of 2024, to focus on culinary uses of scallops, in support of the scallop aquaculture and commercial fishing sectors in Maine.  The week of travel will be followed by educational programming in Maine for chefs and other culinary professionals, and is spurred by the dayboat quality of scallops both fished in Maine and for the whole, live products from the farm sector.

“The quality of dayboat scallops from Maine is becoming well known throughout the state and the region. Scallops from different areas have different flavors (merroirs) and Maine is the only state in the country offering whole cultivated scallops.”
Togue Brawn, Downeast Dayboat

Less well known – to both chefs and consumers alike – are the products from the farm sector: whole scallops, roe-on, and other dishes that can be made with the mantle or other parts of the scallop. According to recent Maine Department of Marine Resources landings data, Maine farmed scallop production was 3,373 lbs in 2022 and 14,349 lbs. in 2023. “That represents a four-fold increase from 2022 to 2023. It’s exciting to see this happening in Maine” said Dana Morse of Maine Sea Grant and UMaine Cooperative Extension.

With the farm sector increasing in production, the opportunity and challenge is to introduce these culinary opportunities to chefs, and since Americans eat most of their seafood in restaurants, to support the chef community as ambassadors of new scallop products to their customers and the home chef. In 2020 a cookbook titled Recipe Ideas for Farmed Sea Scallops. The Whole Story was released and co-authored by local Maine fishermen Marsden Brewer and natural history writer Marnie Reed Crowell, both Stonington residents. “This was a conscious effort to put scallops on the minds of chefs and food connoisseurs by publishing, promoting and distributing a resource dedicated to the preparation of farmed (and wild) sea scallops,” said Hugh Cowperthwaite, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. A digital version of the publication can be found on the PenBay Farmed Scallops website.

France is a leader in utilizing scallops in their cuisine, and the group will meet with chefs, fishermen, retailers, restaurateurs, and scientists in the course of their travel. The delegation includes Chef Jean-Louis Gerin, Master Chef of France; a dual citizen of the US and France. A James Beard Award winner and chef at two Michelin three-star restaurants, Chef Gerin has helped the group establish connections in France and is uniquely positioned and qualified to serve as the group’s knowledgeable host and guide, and is prepared to share his deep connections to culinary leaders in the U.S.

As a Maine based chef, I am thrilled to be able to support scallop fisherman and farmers through education and outreach to chefs and eaters. Our group’s trip to learn about the French scallop industry will help inspire and inform our efforts to get chefs thinking about using more of the scallop, how to tell the story of scallop sustainability through the lens of both environmental and economic perspectives, and how to better market Maine scallops as a world class product.”
Chef Rob Dumas, University of Maine

Delegation members include: Togue Brawn (Downeast Dayboat), Hugh Cowperthwaite (Coastal Enterprises Inc), Chef Rob Dumas (Univ of Maine), Chef Jean-Louis Gerin (Master Chef of France), Chef Sam Hayward (Fore Street Grill), author Rowan Jacobsen (A Geography of Oysters), Dana Morse (Maine Sea Grant and UMaine Cooperative Extension), Andrew Peters (Vertical Bay), Lisa Scali (Ocean’s Balance) and Cherie Scott (Mumbai to Maine).  

The group will be in Paris, Normandy and Brittany, from April 14th through the 22nd. The trip will wrap up with a Scallop festival in Paimpol April 20-21 

The project is made possible by a grant by the NOAA National Sea Grant Office to the Maine Sea Grant College Program. The delegations intended travel route:

A map showing the route of the delegation through France, From Paris to Paimpal, Rouen, and more.