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Exchange Between Maine and France Expands Maine Scallops' Appeal

University of Maine press release.

A group of chefs, seafood professionals, writers, economic development specialists and educators traveled to France in April to explore French techniques for handling and preparing scallops in support of the scallop farming and commercial fishing sectors in Maine.  

The value of Maine's farmed scallops is rising steadily as more chefs discover their quality. T.Brawn photo.

The project was made possible by a grant from the NOAA National Sea Grant Office to the Maine Sea Grant College Program. Among the Maine delegation of culinary professionals and other specialists traveling across France are Dana Morse, senior extension program manager and aquaculture lead at Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and Rob Dumas, UMaine food science innovation coordinator and manager of the Dr. Matthew Highlands Pilot Plant.

The group travelled to Paris, Normandy and Brittany. The trip will wrap up with a scallop festival in Paimpol April 20-21. The week of travel will be followed by educational programming led by Dumas to share what the group learned from its travels with other chefs and other culinary professionals. 

The project is spurred by the unparalleled quality of Maine dayboat scallops, both the traditional product from the fishery and whole live product from Maine sea farmers.

“The quality of dayboat scallops from Maine is finally getting the long overdue recognition it deserves. Scallops from different areas have different flavors (merroirs) and Maine is the only state in the country offering whole cultivated scallops. I look forward to learning from the masters of place-based gastronomy how to get the word out about our amazing scallops,” said delegation member Togue Brawn, owner and founder of Downeast Dayboat.

Less well known — to both chefs and consumers alike — are the products from the farm sector: whole scallops, roe-on and dishes made with other parts of the scallop beyond the “meat” (the adductor muscle) known to most Americans. The delegates want to change that, and it comes at a time when the nascent farm sector is growing.  According to recent Maine Department of Marine Resources’ landings data, Maine farmed scallop production was valued at $81,629 in 2021, $103,220 in 2022 and $584,691 in 2023. 

“Growers have really gotten their feet under them, and it shows in their production practices and the landings themselves,” said Morse.

With the farm sector increasing production, the opportunity and challenge is to introduce culinary opportunities to chefs. Since Americans eat most of their seafood in restaurants, chefs can serve as ambassadors of new scallop products to their customers and to 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 fisherman Marsden Brewer and natural history writer Marnie Reed Crowell, both Stonington residents. A digital version of the publication can be found at PenBay Farmed Scallops.

“This was a conscious effort to put whole 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 delegation member Hugh Cowperthwaite, senior program director of fisheries and aquaculture for Coastal Enterprises, Inc. 


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