How does the Maine Lobster Festival keep up with the demand of cooking more than 20,000 pounds of lobster in five days, you ask? For the last 10 years, Rockland, “The Lobster Capital of the World,” has naturally been the home to one of the Festival’s most impressive pieces of equipment —The World’s Largest Lobster Cooker— and you’ll get to see it between August 1-5, 2018, at the 71st Maine Lobster Festival.
A mighty contraption for a massive job, this cooker is actually comprised of multiple components, featuring eight individual cooking units made of steel mesh, each capable of cooking 200 pounds of lobsters.
To illustrate the enormity of this cooker, just picture a typical turkey fryer-lobster cooker for a backyard party. Something like that would have enough heat to cook approximately 15 pounds of lobster in 15 minutes. But, it would have to take 112 of those outdoor cookers to do the same job at the Maine Lobster Festival. The World’s Greatest Lobster Cooker can cook 1,600 pounds of lobster in 15 minutes!
This cooker, which was invented a decade ago for the 2008 festival, was the result of some critical engineering and ingenuity by the lobster community. With electronic controls, tremendous capacity, temperature sensors, and safety shut-off devices, the cooker uses clean-burning propane, courtesy of Maritime Energy. Its design is approximately 50 percent more efficient than the old cooker, which relied on fuel oil. Not only that, festival volunteers would be surrounded by plumes of black smoke!
Another fun fact if you get to see the cooker up close: all of those customized bricks surrounding the cooker structure were each bought by a festival supporter; the proceeds helped fund the cooker’s construction.
Cooked in batches of 100 pounds, the steaming red lobsters are transferred to an insulated tote and carted to the Main Eating Tent, where hungry people are waiting with their bibs and all the fixings. This faster and more efficient method ensures that people don’t have to wait in long lines to get their lobster fix. In fact, at its peak efficiency, using the cooker helped volunteers serve more than 26,000 pounds of lobster at one of the past five-day festivals.
Make sure you get a chance to look at The World’s Largest Lobster Cooker when you come to the Maine Lobster Festival this year. It is not only a sight to behold, but it is also a testament to the endurance and innovation of Maine’s lobster industry.