Togue Brawn has a lot to say about scallops. Of course, Maine, where she was born and now makes her home, is known for its lobster, which dominates the fishing industry there. But as a result of this, scallops have been largely overlooked, said Brawn, overshadowed by the lucrative and popular lobsters.
“The guys down there needed income,” she said of the fishermen with whom she works in Down East Maine, one of the most fishery-dependent areas in the country. “I saw the scallop resource as a huge opportunity.”
Brawn started her company, Maine Dayboat Scallops, as a way to partner with Maine scallop fishermen and advise them on how to make their practices more sustainable — both environmentally and economically. She’s encouraged the fishermen to reduce the length of their season, decrease the daily fishing limits and close off areas of the coast as conservation areas. The result? Bigger, more profitable scallops. And Brawn is bringing them to New York.
“Why are we not differentiating this product?” Brawn asked. The difference between the fresh Maine scallops and the ones you would buy at the grocery, which are often plumped up in water before being sold, she said, is stark. “So many people have never had a real scallop before.”
With plans to convert New Yorkers to fresh Maine scallops, Brawn will be offering tastings on Wednesday, February 12, at both of the Brooklyn Kitchen’s storefronts (11-1 p.m. in Manhattan and 3-5 p.m. in Brooklyn). All of the scallops she brings will have been harvested within 48 hours of their arrival in New York, and they will never have touched fresh water or any chemicals since being plucked from the Maine coastline.
Brawn hopes to establish a regular market for the product in New York, where there are more restaurants and consumers willing to buy the scallops, and less fresh seafood, than in Down East Maine. In New York, “people have sort of accepted that you should know your farmer, that you know where your food is coming from,” said Brawn. “It’s the same with your fisherman, too. I don’t expect anyone to pay more just to help someone else. But in this case, the product is so much better — it’s a different product.”
Want more information about the tasting, or interested in ordering scallops for future pickup? Check out the Maine Dayboat Scallop Site here.