World’s best lobster roll? It’s in Utah

Lee Benson, Deseret News

Lorin Smaha, with husband Ben, founded Freshies in 2009.

PARK CITY — Earlier this summer, when the Park City husband-wife team of Ben and Lorin Smaha waltzed into Maine for the Down East Magazine Lobster Roll Cook-off and waltzed back to landlocked Utah with the grand prize of “World’s Best Lobster Roll,” a lot of New Englanders were understandably left with mouths agape.

Where did they say they were from?

Let’s imagine a realistic comparable: Massachusetts winning Best Snow? New Hampshire winning Best Funeral Potatoes?

But there it was, straight from the judges’ mouths and stomachs: search the ends of the Earth and you won’t find a tastier lobster roll than the one Ben and Lorin serve up at Freshies — either at their brick-and-mortar restaurant in Park City’s Prospector Square or from their food truck that makes the rounds of the Salt Lake Valley.

After surviving a day of taste-testing by 250 specially invited lobster roll aficionados — each of whom paid $100 for the privilege — Ben and Lorin found themselves in the finals against two restaurants from Maine, the very epicenter of lobsterdom, and since the festival took place in Portland, Maine, and the five finals judges were respected food critics from the East, the couple’s expectations to ultimately prevail were lower than a lobster stuck at the bottom of a net.

“Didn’t think we had a chance,” recalled Lorin, who also wryly confessed she had the same thought when she and Ben were about to catch a redeye in Salt Lake City to fly back to the competition.

“I got to the parking lot and thought this was a dumb idea. ‘We’re just wasting our money,’” she said.

They’d heard about the contest from a friend who’d read about it in Down East magazine; on a whim, they sent in their entry and were accepted. Now she was having second thoughts.

In the airport terminal, Lorin went so far as to ask the airlines if they could get their money back.

“Nope. Nonrefundable,” she was told.

“Well that settled it,” she said, smiling, “We’d already…

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