Like your favorite TV cooking show, the 2023 Seafood Cooking Contest brought together five amateur chefs to compete for cash prizes and bragging rights on Aug. 4 at the 76th Maine Lobster Festival.

All the dishes prepared by contestants must be original recipes and highlight seafood found in Maine waters. Each dish is tasted by a panel of judges ranging from community members to food experts, and often, King Neptune himself. The judges look for taste, creativity, suitability of the seafood to the recipe, and simplicity.

Maine Coast TV was there to catch all the action and interview contestants, spectators and judges. You can watch video of the contest.

Every dish was delicious, but in the end, Hilary Mallette came out on top as the first place winner with her Lobster Andouille Sausage and Grits. Second place went to Joseph P. Veruto with his Joe’s Seafood Stew. Janice Abendroth snagged third place with her Haddock Jan recipe. Taking home fourth place was Christopher Panella with his Lobster Mac n Chese Rangoons. Fifth place went to Manny Chapilliquen with his Happy Lobster Ceviche.

Find Hilary’s winning Lobster Andouille Sausage and Grits recipe below, and check out the other contestants’ recipes.

Interested in competing in next year’s Seafood Cooking Contest at the 77th Maine Lobster Festival? You can apply online.


Lobster Andouille Sausage and Grits

By Hilary Mallette


Cook Time: 45 minutes


4 Lobster tails
1 tablespoon of Tone’s Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons of butter

2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of grits
1 ½ tablespoons of tomato paste
¾ cup of heavy whipping cream
2 handfuls of cheddar cheese (can use white or yellow cheddar)

Remaining juices in the pan from lobster
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 cup of water
1 chicken bouillon cube
½ cup of heavy whipping cream
1 ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco hot sauce to taste
1 Lb. of andouille sausage sliced


1. Take kitchen shears and cut lobster tails starting from the tail fan and cut up the length of the back to the top where the body of the lobster would be. Then take a knife and cut through the meat until the tail is cut through into two pieces.
2. Season the lobster tails with the Tone’s, paprika and Italian seasoning and set aside.
3. Heat butter in a skillet until melted and add the minced garlic. Cook until garlic becomes fragrant. About 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the lobster tails, meat side down, and sear for about 2 minutes.
5. Flip lobster tails over and cover pan with a lid. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until shell is red in color.
6. Remove lobster tails from pan (keep the juices in the pan for later) and set aside on a plate. Lightly cover with tin foil to keep warm.
7. Make the grits. In a medium sauce pan, bring water, butter and bouillon cubes to a boil. Add your grits and stir occasionally until cooked. About 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, heavy cream and cheese and stir together for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
8. Saute the sausage in a separate pan until crispy on the edges and set aside.
9. Make the sauce. Using the pan you cooked the lobster tails in, add butter to your remaining juices and melt. Once butter is melted, add the all-purpose flour and cook stirring constantly for about 2-5 minutes or until turns golden brown in color.
10. Add water and bouillon cube to roux mixture and stir constantly until thickened. Then add heavy cream, stirring constantly until smooth.
11. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Remove from heat.
12. Remove lobster meat from shells and fold into sauce. Fold sausage into sauce.
13. To serve, place large spoonfuls of grits to bowl and top with two pieces of lobster meat and drizzle with sauce, making sure you get several pieces of sausage. Enjoy!

This dish pairs well with a simple Crostini.