Portland, Maine, January 10, 2012 – When Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich of Sea Glass at the Inn by the Sea—one of Portland, Maine’s most coveted tables—arrives in New York later this month to cook at the James Beard House in Manhattan, he’ll be bringing a surprising source of inspiration: Argentina. Chef Kaldrovich was raised in Buenos Aires, and his cuisine is a unique blend of locally sourced Maine ingredients and Argentine technique and flavors. Lobster Bisque will appear on the menu at the Beard House, but so will Corn–Lobster Empanadas. And Chef Kaldrovich’s signature Butter-Poached Lobster and Tender Gnocchi will be followed by a Serrano-Wrapped Salmon Roast.
How does this celebrated Maine Coast chef keep his menus local as well as dynamic during a long Northeast winter? If you’re like Chef Kaldrovich, you shop for sustainable seafood that’s overlooked and underutilized, like northern Atlantic shrimp, which comes into season during bleakest mid-winter months. And who said Maine lobster is only for summertime? Winter brings the year’s biggest abundance of Maine’s prized hard shell lobsters, which taste sweeter in winter than at any other time of the year. That’s why it’s featured all winter long on the Sea Glass menu.
“My aim is to be light and fresh, to enjoy Maine’s natural flavors, and to let the food speak for itself,” says Chef Kaldrovich, who arrived at Sea Glass three years ago and quickly made it one of greater Portland’s most celebrated tables. For Chef Kaldrovich, fresh seafood, local produce, and farm-to-table practices are the essential ingredients in his kitchen. But the Argentina-raised Chef Kaldrovich accompanies them with European culinary skills honed in cutting edge restaurants in Buenos Aires, Patagonia, California and Florida.
On Cooking in Maine in Winter
The weather may be dramatic on Casco Bay, but Chef Kaldrovich is clearly a cook for all seasons. So when the snow flies and Atlantic winds blows, he needs to become especially innovative.
“Cooking in Maine requires its own natural rhythms on many levels,” Chef Kaldrovich says, “and that has an impact on my menus and my approach. It’s more seasonal, and often challenging, with shorter growing seasons. Yet by supporting Maine, I find great pleasure in creating new dishes based on local, sustainable resources.” So Chef Kaldrovich’s handmade gnocchi will be paired with butter poached lobster and served with classic root vegetables like baby turnips and carrots, which are still abundant in Maine during the winter. And while Chef Kaldrovich is perfectly capable of reaching deep into his Argentine roots to wrap salmon in Serrano ham, the accompaniments are from Maine, from the local sea (seaweed) and the winter cold cellar (leeks).
Sustainable Seafood Practices
When it comes to seafood, Chef Kaldrovich calls on nearby Alewive’s Brook Farm and Harbor Fish Market located down the road from his kitchen door. Chef Kaldrovich also supports a sustainable seafood program that began with research from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), a handful of knowledgeable seasoned fishermen and all star chefs from the Portland area. They are bringing attention to abundant and delicious, but far underutilized, seafood from the Gulf of Maine, such as northern shrimp. The lobster and the Jonah crab are wild, fresh caught from the Gulf of Maine waters right off shore, but sustainable cooking means sourcing farm-raised salmon, oysters, clams and mussels.
Keeping it Maine and Keeping it Simple
Chef Kaldrovich gives a great deal of credit to the excellent purveyors he knows in the greater Portland area, where one of the most dynamic dining scenes in the U.S. keeps the standards exceptionally high. He makes a point of not only buying from local organic farmers but actively cultivating relationships with such celebrated purveyors as Fern Hill Farm Goat Cheese, Backyard Farm Tomatoes and the Maine Sea Salt Company.
“If I had to define what I’m doing, I’d say that I’m keeping it simple,” Chef Kaldrovich says. “We have great ingredients from the sea and from the local farms that surround the hotel. I don’t cover it up with too many ingredients. It’s New American, and it’s about balance. I take the best of what Maine has and approach it with Mediterranean techniques. This is all about light and healthy food, sourced locally and often to keep it fresh.”
Sea Glass offers an unsurpassed Maine dining experience with spectacular ocean views from its intimate dining room or al fresco deck. Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich marries the freshest regional ingredients with his Argentine roots to create a unique and memorable culinary experience. The restaurant is located at Inn by the Sea, along on a mile of sand beach just seven miles south of Portland’s chic little port city offering guests a relaxed but elegant Maine coast experience in 57 luxuriously appointed one and two bedroom suites and rooms. Selected one of Travel & Leisure’s Best 500 Hotels worldwide for 2011, Inn by the Sea has also made Forbes Traveler’s list for Top Ten Green Hotels in the US and Canada. www.innbythesea.com
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