Where the Ocean Meets the Farm
Tune in this Tuesday night, October 30th at 8:30PM to watch Chuck Hughes feature Portland, Maine as his latest stop on “Chuck’s Eat The Street.” In this show, Chuck devours Commercial Street by visiting Three Sons Lobster & Fish (now Foreside Seafood), Vignola Cinque Terre, Standard Baking Company, and the Farmer’s Table.
What Chuck Has to Say About Portland
35-year old friendly, boisterous, and endearing Chuck Hughes is the tatted up Canadian winner of “Iron Chef America,” who has gone on to host several of his own television shows, including “Chuck’s Day Off,” “Chuck’s Week Off: Mexico,” and “Chuck’s Eat the Street” on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. IlovePortlandMaine got to speak with Chuck on Friday, and ask him a few burning questions about his time in our little city, which he cheerfully answered in his French Canadian accent:
ILPM: Do you really have tattoos of your favorite foods?
Chuck: [laughs] Oh yes! Much to my mom’s dismay! I’ve got them everywhere: Oysters, Arugula, Lemon Merengue Pie, Lobster, Shrimp, Fish, and even the perfect temperature of the oil for deep-frying potato chips- 275 degrees.
ILPM: On your show “Chuck’s Eat The Streets,” you’ve been eating your way across America one street at a time from San Francisco, to Memphis and New Orleans. What made you pick Portland, Maine?
Chuck: I grew up going to Maine every summer in August–my parents had a place on Goose Rock’s Beach. But, you know, we never really ventured out past that area. I knew Portland had to be something special, so it was important for me to go to there as an adult. Plus, there’s something about this whole area, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont… all the French Canadian names everywhere, just like in Montreal. We have to stick together.
ILPM: What did you think of it? What did you notice about Portland right away?
Chuck: Ohhh, Portland just has this salt-of-the-earth feel to it, an honest hard-working vibe. But also happy and fun loving. It’s authentic. The people are very real. What you see is what you get.
Portland just has this salt-of-the-earth feel to it, an honest hard-working vibe. But also happy and fun loving. It’s authentic. The people are very real. What you see is what you get.
ILPM: Why did you pick Commercial Street in particular?
Chuck: Because it’s a mix of the working waterfront, locals, and tourists… it’s a showcase of fresh food– simple and authentic.
ILPM: How is your show different from other popular traveling food documentaries, like Anthony Bourdain’s?
Chuck: Eat The Streets is all about discovering your own back yard. It’s an insider look at your own city, bringing people to places they might not know about– everyone has been to J’s Oyster, which is great! but maybe not so many people know about the Farmer’s Table. And I like to be able to meet with the chefs, bakers and fishermen so you can get a feel for everything that goes into bringing a dish to life.
ILPM: Speaking of oysters, what’s your favorite place in Portland?
Chuck: Oh, there used to be this great place in the Portland Public Market called Scales. You could sit right up at the counter and watch them shuck. It’s gone now, but it had the best oysters!
ILPM: Have you been to Eventide Oyster Co right next to Hugo’s yet?
Chuck: No! But I’ll be back in Portland again and will hit it up. Have you been to Bresca’s? It’s another favorite— it’s just a small place with ten tables, and it’s uber-feminine. I think that’s what makes it great. Women chefs are where it’s at now, they’re very patient and they add that extra touch to everything they make. [Chuck laughs] They’re pretty much the opposite of me, you know, all the bacon and the butter and everything.
When To Watch & Where to Go To Follow In Chuck’s Footsteps
The Portland episode “Where The Ocean Meets The Farm” is scheduled to air from 8:30 p.m.-9 p.m. this Tuesday Oct. 30 on The Cooking Channel (Channel 119 if you have Time Warner Cable). On this show, Chuck will feature two restaurants, a bakery, and a lobster pound: Vignola Cinque Terre, The Farmer’s Table, Standard Baking Company, and Three Sons Lobster & Fish Co. Chuck also mentioned Scales Restaurant in the Portland Public Market (the market is now out of business, but the restaurant was opened by Sam Hayward of the renowned Fore Street Restaurant) and Bresca as other personal favorites, as well as any clam shack between Portland and Kennebunk– “especially ones that are ghetto as all hell, because they usually have the best fried clams!”
If you’re going to be up Montreal way, you might want to stop in to one of Chuck’s own restaurants, Garde Manger or Le Bremner with its “speakeasy vibe in a beautiful basement setting in the ancient heart of the city.”
Know of a Person, Place or Event That Deserves A Little Time in The Spotlight? Let me know!
A native Mainer, Leona Vera moved westward to California the first chance she got…only to find her heart yearning to return to the East. She now happily resides in Greater Portland, and loves the quirky outdoors-and-artsy culture that can’t be matched anywhere else–not even on the Left Coast!