Culinary exchange between Maine and France will support Maine scallops

A group of chefs, seafood professionals, writers, economic development specialists and educators will travel to France from April 14-22 to explore French techniques for handling and preparing scallops in support of the scallop farming and commercial fishing sectors in Maine.  

The project is 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 will be in 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. 

A photo of scallops on the half shell.
Togue BrawnWhole scallops with compound butter.

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 on the PenBay Farmed Scallops website.

“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. 

France is a leader in utilizing scallops in their cuisine, and the Maine group will meet with chefs, fishermen, retailers, restaurateurs and scientists in the course of their travel. The delegation includes Chef Jean-Louis Gerin, master chef of France and a dual citizen of the U.S. and France. A James Beard Award winner and chef at two Michelin three-star restaurants, Gerin has helped the group establish connections in France and is uniquely positioned and qualified to serve as the group’s knowledgeable host and guide, and is prepared to share his deep connections to culinary leaders in the U.S.

“As a Maine based chef, I am thrilled to be able to support scallop fishermen and farmers through education and outreach to chefs and eaters,” said DumasOur group’s trip to learn about the French scallop industry will help inspire and inform our efforts to get chefs thinking about using more of the scallop, how to tell the story of scallop sustainability through the lens of both environmental and economic perspectives, and how to better market Maine scallops as a world class product.

Other delegation members include Sam Hayward, James Beard Award-winning chef and co-owner of Fore Street restaurant; Rowan Jacobsen, author of “A Geography of Oysters”; Andrew Peters, owner of Vertical Bay; Lisa Scali, co-owner of Ocean’s Balance; and Cherie Scott, owner and founder of Mumbai to Maine LLC and maker of award-winning gourmet regional Indian simmer sauces. 

Contact: Marcus Wolf, 207.581.3721;