The Wrap: Monkfish stew raises funds, Belleville to reopen
In a fundraising effort to help feed hungry Mainers, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association is selling monkfish stew at more than a dozen stores in the Arundel area of Ellsworth.
Coastal Maine Monkfish Stew, cooked and packaged by Hurricane’s Premium Soups and Chowders in Greene, uses local monkfish and sustainably harvested Maine potatoes, as well as carrots, cream and broth of lobster. The stew is sold frozen in 16-ounce and 24-ounce sizes, ready to heat and serve.
The fishermen’s association launched its Fishermen Feeding Mainers program in response to the pandemic, when Maine fishermen who catch species like burbot, pollock and hake lost markets for their harvests. Much of Maine’s burbot had been sold to Asia. At the same time, the organization has seen food insecurity increase in Maine.
All proceeds from the stew will be used to purchase local fresh fish, which will then be donated to schools, food banks and community groups across the state. To date, the Fishermen Feeding Mainers program has provided more than 400,000 meals to Mainers, the association said.
Ben Martens, the organization’s executive director, said monkfish is unfamiliar to many Maine home cooks, making reheat-and-eat stew an ideal way to “show off” the ingredient.
“Monkfish has a different texture and can be tricky to cook if you’re not used to it. The stew is a way for us to introduce consumers to local and sustainably sourced seafood choices and support Maine anglers,” Martens said.
In addition to seafood markets and specialty stores now offering monkfish stew, it is also served in Brunswick at the Frontier and Brunswick Diner. The stew is also available online through Harbor Fish Market in Portland.
For details on where to buy the stew, visit the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association website.
Biz School Report: Stories Sell
According to a study authored by the Maine Business School at the University of Maine and published in the journal Sustainability, artisanal food producers looking to make their products stand out should provide consumers with more information about their food at the point of sale. .
“When I buy a beautiful wheel of artisan cheese from one of Maine’s amazing cheese makers, everything about my experience with that product is different from my experience with a more conventional everyday cheese,” co-author of the study and Maine Business School assistant professor Erin Percival Carter said in a prepared statement. “We wanted to dig deeper into the consumer psychology of specialty products and help producers figure out how to make products even more appealing to those consumers.”
The study was published last July, although the university only issued a press release on its findings last week due to staffing shortages, a university spokesperson said.
Researchers surveyed consumers at the Maine Cheese Festival to find out how well they read package information for “typical” and “special” cheeses. They also asked participants if they were likely to seek out more information about the product and if what they had learned about the product had affected their shopping experience.
The study found that cheese makers and other artisan food producers could set themselves apart from the competition and boost sales by giving consumers more product information. The study suggested, for example, that cheese makers could offer customers cards detailing cheese provenance, milking date and other information about the cheese-making process, and direct them to online media with even more details.
“While many artisan producers feel pressured to emulate market leaders and embrace clean, stripped-down packaging, this type of packaging does not leverage the strengths of an artisan product,” said Percival Carter. “If you have a craft product, it’s important to think about the story of your product.”
The prestigious Belleville bakery, known for its flaky croissants, pastries and Roman-style pizzas, will reopen its store at 1 rue Nord on March 5, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the bakery’s Facebook page.
The Facebook post says the bakery will be open Friday through Sunday starting March 11. The owners plan to expand their hours this spring once they open their new location at 767 Forest Ave.
Belleville Bakery had been closed since last May except for occasional pop-ups. Owner Chris Deutsch told the Press Herald last year that just before the shutdown, his 250-square-foot bakery tried to produce up to 600 croissants a day to keep up with consumer demand, a pace he said , was unsustainable in the small workspace.
The new Forest Avenue location in Belleville will be a production facility with a retail storefront that will allow bakers to produce up to 1,000 pastries per day, Deutsch said.