“World’s Best Lobster Roll” title goes to Utah business

Published on
July 10, 2017

Although guests were evacuated from Portland, Maine U.S.A.'s first ever Lobster Roll Festival on Saturday, 8 July, due to thunderstorm conditions, the event’s organizer Down East magazine was still able to name the winner of the "World’s Best Lobster Roll" competition: Freshies Lobster Co. 

The Park City, Utah-based company, which is helmed by Ben and Lorin Smaha, faced off against 11 other contenders for the title, emerging victorious following several rounds of judging from a five-person expert panel of food writers and lobstermen, as well as 250 VIP attendees. 

“[It] was such a well-balanced lobster roll,” Roadfood.com’s Michael Stern, one of the five judges, said of the Freshies lobster roll in a Bangor Daily News Facebook Live video. “The meat was great, the bun was great, the seasoning was great. It was just kind of perfect.”

According to Stern, the fact that Freshies has its headquarters in non-coastal Utah did ruffle feathers during deliberation, but ultimately, it wasn’t so much about location as it was about taste, he told the newspaper.

“That was a point that we debated,” Stern said. “Can a lobster roll from Utah really win? But we had to eliminate all that stuff and said ‘What is the best lobster roll?’ We really figured that was it.”

The Smahas are both originally New Englanders, and began the Freshies business as a food truck in 2009, after they moved to Utah. More about their journey, and the other lobster roll companies they faced off against, can be found in SeafoodSource’s roundup: https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/foodservice-retail/12-contenders-competing-for-worlds-best-lobster-roll-title

Down East magazine is offering attendees who paid for entry to the event and did not get to eat a sandwich  due to long lines and inclement weather  –  a refund. The magazine, which said it was overwhelmed by the number of visitors, is working to address complaints, according to a report from The Portland Press Herald.

On the festival’s Facebook event page, Down East wrote: “We’re sorry about the issues at the festival. Please contact us via email at [email protected] to make sure your particular situation gets addressed or for more information. Thank you.” 

Despite the issues that arose on Saturday, Kathleen Fleury, Down East’s editor-in-chief, said the magazine has every intention to try again next summer with the festival.

“What was very clear is there is a lot of interest in a festival like this,” Fleury told the Press Herald. 

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