Maine may arguably be the authority on lobster rolls, but that didn’t stop a contest in the state from crowning the world’s best version of the dish to an Atlanta restaurant.
Executive Chef Andrew Isabella of BeetleCat beat out nine other chefs, half of whom were from Maine, for the world champion title from Down East: The Magazine of Maine. The second and third place spots went to chefs from Park City, Utah and Kittery, Maine, respectively.
The celebrity judge's pick was from Paris, France, a press release said. Contestants in the July 7 event also hailed from Venice, Florida, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
More than 400 people at the event were invited to sample all ten rolls and vote electronically.
For some equipped with keyboards and opinions, the irony of landlocked Atlanta winning the prize did not go unnoticed. When the magazine posted news of the winner on its Facebook page, the comments rolled in.
“Whatever. I'm sure some hipster recipe,” one commenter said. Others replied to that with “They use gluten free lobster” and “With kale and ginger.” Those comments all got hit with laughing faces.
The magazine’s managing editor jumped in to say: “We’re secure enough in our Maine-ness to acknowledge when someone else makes a good lobster roll. 🙂 Also, attendees picked the winner by voting.”
The original commenter replied, “Maine has been inundated with hipster doofus foodie syndrome.”
Here’s a sampling of other comments:
• What the....? Never heard of this place!
• Wow! Out of staters taking the 2 top places..... Doesn't seem right but obviously well deserved. Congratulations to all participants.
• ... where does the lobster come from in Atlanta?
• ...those famous Georgia lobster rolls...
Over on Twitter, someone lamented: “That is in real (sic) we lose to a place in Georgia lobster rolls the Maine way so disappointed.”
BeetleCat, a restaurant from chef Ford Fry, opened in Inman Park in late 2015.
“BeetleCat’s executive chef, Andrew Isabella, is a Florida native who grew up fishing with his family,” food writer Bob Townsend wrote when the restaurant opened. “But like the style of wooden sailboats the restaurant is named for, the menu Isabella put together is more like New England — albeit with lots of global influences, and dishes mostly served as small plates for snacking and sharing.”
Isabella’s roll in the contest “was filled with fresh Maine Lobster meat and served on a buttery toasted slider bun,” the press release said. He won a check for $1,000 and will be featured on a page in the magazine.