Dishes That Culinary Maine Takes Pride In

With so many natural resources to choose from, these dishes that culinary Maine takes pride in have been a central (if not essential) part of life in the state since the first people set foot in the area. Maine has been feeding people for 13,000 years.  People looking for food and resources have come to the esteemed state due to its abundant lands.

Certain dishes, however, stand out from the crowd. These foods were influenced by the industries, natural resources, and people who helped shape Maine into what it is today. Read on, and be sure you request one of them from your private chef when you visit Maine!

Bean Hole Beans

Maine has a long logging history. It lives up to its nickname as the “Pine Tree State.”  Around 1830, Bangor was the world’s largest lumber shipping port. During the winter, when frozen waterways allowed for easy timber transport, Maine’s woods were densely packed with logging camps.

One of the easiest and most delectable meals was bean hole beans.  The camp owners could prepare it easily for loggers in the woods.  They cooked them in a cast-iron pot over a hot bed of coals in a stone-lined pit covered in soil. This practice was adopted from Native Americans.  They cooked beans in subterranean, deerskin-covered clay pots with bear grease and maple syrup.

Blueberry Cake

Maine’s state dessert is blueberry pie, but the blueberry cake has been famous throughout the state’s history. Blueberry cake is frequently featured in Maine’s historic community cookbooks. 

Of course, the cake must include wild, low-bush blueberries, one of Maine’s oldest and most profitable crops. Wild blueberries are harvested every other year. Down East, blueberry barrens cover tens of thousands of acres. Every year, wild blueberries contribute millions of dollars to Maine’s economy.


Chowder is the quintessential dish for warming up working longshoremen.  It is a creamy broth filled with seafood, flavored with fat, and loaded with potatoes.  However, not tomatoes—the Maine State Legislature even considered a bill outlawing tomatoes in chowder in 1939).

Though the exact origins of chowder are debatable, its place as a mainstay in Maine’s culinary history is undeniable.  Some say it was brought over by the English and French, while others say it has native roots. Your private chef will definitely be excited to serve this dish to you!

Fiddlehead Ferns

The Wabanaki referred to the fern as “mahsus” or “máhsosi”.   The French-Acadians referred to it as “crosiers,” a reference to a curled bishop’s staff. However, English-speaking settlers discovered the ferns to be strikingly similar to the spiraling scroll of a violin.  Thus, they began calling them fiddleheads.

Although not all Mainers grew up fiddling with their families, fiddleheads are distinctively, natively Maine. They are as sure of a sign of spring in some areas as the ferns themselves.

Italian Sandwiches

If you haven’t already heard, the American “Italian” sandwich was allegedly invented in Portland. It isa soft roll with American cheese, onions, salty deli meat, tomatoes, pickles, peppers, and olives in oil and vinegar.

According to legend, baker Giovanni Amato was selling bread from his street cart in 1903.   Hungry dockworkers asked him to include meat, cheese, and vegetables in his rolls. Amato was excited and decided to open a sandwich shop. Across the state, shops selling similar sandwiches proliferated.

This spongy roll is perhaps the most reviled element of the sandwich by today’s culinary connoisseurs. It, too, tells the story of Maine’s immigration.

Lobster Rolls

Lobster rolls are arguably Maine’s most iconic food. Because you can’t talk about Maine without mentioning a lobster roll. Unlike the hot and buttered “Connecticut-style” lobster roll, traditional Maine lobster rolls are served cold.  So their creation comes with the tail, knuckle, and claw meat and mayonnaise on a split-top bun.


Ployes are spongy crepes and chefs make them with buckwheat flour, water, and salt. They’re simple, but they’re versatile. Chefs will sweeten them with fruit, cream, or maple syrup.  People will also dip them in hearty stews, substitute for bread in sandwiches, or eat plain. Finally, cooks will serve Cretons, a French-Acadian pork spread, on top of ployes too.


These are just a few of these dishes that culinary Maine takes pride in.  Other delicacies abound in Maine and those are worth trying too. 

If you need a private chef, reach out to Food Fire + Knives because we want to help everyone enjoy the perfect private chef experience. See our menu today!

Published By Kim Gandhi Kim Gandhi began cooking at 8 years old with a love of food driving her to experiment with her Hispanic and German heritage. She gained a BBA in Marketing and turned to the business world for much of her career. Her strong customer service background and her passion for great events that involve chefs, customers, and amazing food allows her to indulge in her love of cooking and enjoying what FFK chefs bring to the table.