Video: Maine Lobsterman Delivers A Lot of Heart With Homemade Smoked Lobster
How do you eat your lobster? On a roll? Smothered in butter? Mixed into macaroni and cheese? For Robert Young, a lobsterman based in Vinalhaven, Maine, the best way to eat lobster is smoked. Young has been commercial fishing for over 20 years, but things changed for him back in 2004 when his wife bought him a smoker for Christmas. While many Christmas gifts have a tendency to get used a handful of times and tossed aside, Young’s smoker ultimately led to his family business: Vinalhaven Smoked Lobster.
Like many foodies, Young began smoking lobster for his family and friends. And when a friend suggested that he start selling his smoked lobster, Young decided to turn his hobby into a business. That was back in 2015. A year later Young had a HACCP plan in place and approval from the state to start selling. Now the lobsterman is working with a couple of retailers and selling his product online. But this isn’t some mass produced, giant enterprise. It’s a gourmet, homemade item, created with a lot of heart.
“We’re just a small operation,” Young tells SeafoodNews. His wife, Kristie, goes to farmers markets with the spreads, and together they work on filling orders, their biggest to date being 400-500 spreads at a time. That doesn’t mean that Young doesn’t have big plans. His dream is to stop fishing and focus on his smoked lobster. But in order to do so, Young needs to spread the word about his smoked lobster — and that means thinking bigger. And what’s bigger than Seafood Expo North America?
Young headed to a meeting with the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC), an organization funded by harvesters, dealers and processors to grow demand for Maine lobster, whether it be a whole live lobster or a value-added product. And while the MLMC generally focuses on promoting lobster itself, the group ended up taking Young’s product down to Boston for North America’s biggest seafood trade show, where it was served to attendees at a breakfast meeting.
So, what’s next for Young? Well, hopefully world domination. Young offers a unique product — one that many don’t produce due to the cost and time (Young told us that you lose about 30-35% of water weight when you smoke the lobster). But that doesn’t stop Young from doing what he loves.