Meet Sarah and Bryce Hach – Maine’s food ambassadors!!! They are one of the reasons I felt inspired to produce this Bicentennial Food Podcast series.
With stellar non-profit backgrounds and a passion for all things food, they moved to Maine back in 2012 and came up with the brilliant idea to start a food tour with an educational twist. The tour was called Maine Food For Thought. (Isn’t that the perfect name for an educational based tour?)
Shortly after they kicked off the tour, in an almost prescient launch, Portland was voted the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year, Bon Appetit.
Sarah and Bryce are committed to sharing Maine’s food story – behind the plate. They partnered up with restaurants and chefs who feel the same way. Each notable chef has created a dish that showcases a specific Maine food system while also bringing their own respective personalities and culinary flair to the featured dish. Check out the beautiful pictures below.
UNION, The Press Hotel
EVO Kitchen + Bar (Hyatt Place Portland- Old Port)
Check out Matt Ginn’s Mediterranean-inspired Harra dish showcasing Maine’s humble but hearty potato.
A true reflection of “Maine’s urban sophistication and the rural yankee work ethic”- Bryce.
It’s not everyday that a World Pesto Champion moves to Maine and opens a restaurant as beautiful as Solo Italiano.
Meet Chef Paolo Laboa who is a master at handcrafting handkerchief pasta (a work of art) tossed in an authentic Genovese basil pesto. The pasta is made with 00 grade flour and the pesto is made with Langorian Olive oil, both ingredients imported from Italy. The star of this vibrant dish is the Genevose basil grown right at Olivia’s Garden (a state-of-the-art pesticide-free greenhouse garden up in New Gloucester, about 45 minutes north of Portland.)
The pasta was as smooth as silk with a thin coating of the freshest pesto making this dish an explosion of delicate flavors.
No garlic overload in this award-winning pesto! I was in heaven and didn’t want this bite to end.
So, I have to admit, I’ve been dreaming about this seafood dish since I left the tour. As we casually walked over to Scales where I devoured some of the best Mussels I’ve had in the longest time Maine’s sustainable initiatives with seafood farming, fisheries, aquaculture, kelp farming, lobster and climate change were all on the table for discussion as we dug into that cast iron skillet filled with Bang Island mussels. I tried to be as polite as I could waiting to see if anyone was interested in snagging that last piece of crusty bread from Standard Baking co.
Tender and sweet, these sea jewels were swimming in a broth that was so delicious, it was almost distracting. Bryce almost had my full attention. I wish I didn’t have to share that afternoon.
I was so stuffed by the time we left Scales, but somehow I managed to make room for yet another bite – an ooey-gooey lobster melt. This melt was so next level with 100% Maine lobster meat dressed in a lobster mayo that they make in-house with reduced lobster stock and fresh chives. The sandwich is topped with local Monterey jack cheese from Pineland Farms. The bread is from Southside Production bakery in South Portland.
After almost three hours of exploring the restaurant scene and eating one tasty bite after the next, we buttoned up this thought-provoking tour with a scrumptious dessert at Piccolo where Bryce shed light on food insecurity in Maine and global food waste. Piccolo is a leader in the restaurant community addressing food insecurity. Their culinary teams at Piccolo and Chaval (their sister restaurant) host community events to raise funds for various non-profit organizations focussing efforts on diminishing food insecurity.
I loved that this walking tour was only about a mile long with approximately 5-6 minutes between restaurants. I can’t think of a better way to restaurant hop, and take in the historic district of Old Port on a beautiful late fall afternoon. Each dish was expertly crafted and tied right into a discussion about Maine’s food systems. I had the best time chatting it up with fabulous foodies from all over the country. On my ride home from Portland to Boothbay, I felt a deeper connection to Maine. Bryce’s closing resonated with me all the way home:
“If you really think about it, we really do have a wide array of the food choices at our disposal everyday and what we decide to put on our plate is a reflection of our values and our circumstance. Hopefully today’s tour will spark in you changes you might make with your palate, your health, and your community in mind.”
Maine Food For Thought was an intimate culinary exploration that went beyond the plate.
It’s no surprise that within three years, Bryce and Sarah have already won a prestigious international award: WINNER, BEST FOOD OR BEVERAGE TOUR EXPERIENCE, by the World Food Travel Association’s 2019 FoodTrekking Awards for “Excellence & Innovation in Food and Beverage Travel Experiences.”
It was an honor to have Sarah and Bryce in the studio sharing their journey. If you are ever in Maine, please do carve out time to take this tour and also eat at these award-winning restaurants.
I hope you enjoy their podcast. I can almost wage you’ll be catching the next flight to Portland or tempted to get in your car and make a reservation to enjoy some of that award-winning pesto or those Bang Island mussels.