World Chefs: Gaier, Frasier show variety of Maine cooking

Tue May 10, 2011 11:53am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier explore the food history of Maine and offer their interpretation of the state's traditional dishes in their latest book, "Maine Classics."

Gaier, 53, and 50-year-old Frasier have been incorporating the area's traditions and local ingredients in the dishes at their acclaimed Arrows restaurant in Ogunquit, which opened in 1988.

They spoke to Reuters about Maine's rich food traditions, foraging and the recipe to their long partnership:

Q: What makes Maine's cooking unique?

A: Frasier: "Maine cooking is very satisfying and old-fashion food. When we examined the roots of the cooking, it's very rich. It's very straightforward. It's meant for hardworking people who want robust food. It goes back to who we are as people. Maine cooking is all about the American experience and how we grow up as frontier people, growing up with the Indian people and our shared experiences there, building the clipper ships going to China, going to Hawaii, going all over the world. (It is about) having to work really hard to get stuff from the rocky soil of Maine and surviving on the ocean with the lobster and the cod."

Q: What surprised you during your research for the book?

A: Gaier: "In the Damariscotta River area in midcoast Maine, there was evidence of huge, thriving oyster consumption many years ago. But due to pollution, there had been no oyster business. Now it has been coming back the last 20 years. Maine has become one of the bigger oyster producers in the country. It was eye-opening to explore that."

Q: So there's more to Maine than lobsters?   Continued...

<p>Chefs Mark Gaier (L) and Clark Frasier pose in this undated handout. REUTERS/Ron Manville/Handout</p>