May 21, 2019

College offers ins, outs of lobster cuisine, trade

Want to eat lobsters every day while learning all you can about the state’s most famous crustacean? Consider attending Lobster College, a long weekend of study and dining to be put on this fall by the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute.

The college, to be run Sept. 13-16, aims to teach those with a keen interest in, but little knowledge of, everything lobster, said the institute’s director Bob Bayer. Participants will not only study the biology of the tasty crustaceans, but also learn about the importance of lobster fishing to communities along the Maine coast.

Bayer said Sunday he hopes students will come from around the globe. The institute’s Web page has quite a following. He routinely gets inquiries from people in Europe and other parts of the world, Bayer said. Although the college was just announced late last week, Bayer said he already had received a call at home from a man in Massachusetts who wants to attend. The college is limited to 24 people and costs between $700 and $800 to attend, with a portion of the money going to the institute’s endowment. The institute is a research and outreach organization whose mission is to protect and enhance the vitality of the lobster industry.

The college will be headquartered at the Oceanside Meadows Inn, a historic sea captain’s house, in Prospect Harbor. Faculty members include lobstermen, lobster dealers, chefs and UMaine professors.

While there will be a lot of lobster eating during the three-day event, the college has a serious side. Students will spend a morning on a lobster boat learning how traps are hauled. They then will go to a lobster pound in Bunkers Harbor to see how lobster are kept prior to being sold. They also will learn about bait and tour a herring boat.

Bayer said he hopes people who like to eat lobsters will learn about the biological, cultural and economic importance of lobsters by talking with the people who fish for them and those who sell them. Past and future challenges and opportunities, such as lobster stock management schemes, will be discussed.

There also will be a tour of a processing plant and discussion of using lobster and other seafood in new ways, such as in chips and other snack foods. There also will be scenic tours of the Schoodic Peninsula and Frenchman Bay area.

As for the culinary aspect of the college, “We will eat [lobster] as often as humanly possible,” Bayer said. Chef Cheryl Wixson will offer instructions on how to put on a traditional lobster bake, followed, of course, by a feast on the beach. There also will be a tour of the Bartlett Winery in Gouldsboro and discussion of what types of wine go best with lobster.

Bayer said he hopes participants will leave the college with “an appreciation for all things lobster,” as well as for the people who make a living from the crustaceans and for the importance of the fishing to coastal communities.

The college is sponsored by Bar Harbor Banking & Trust and the University of Maine Alumni Association.

Bayer hopes the college, which is the first of its kind, will become an annual event.

The enrollment deadline is June 22. For more information, call the Lobster Institute at 581-2751.

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