The best lobster roll at a Portland festival wasn’t from Maine — or New England

FILE - In this June 12, 2015 file photo, lobster are seen at the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine. The state's lobstermen set a record for the value of the lobster catch for the seventh year in a row. Maine lobsters were worth a little more than $533 million at the docks in 2016, exceeding the previous year's record total by more than $30 million, Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press/file

Who says the best lobster rolls have to come from Maine, or even New England?

A Maine magazine held a lobster roll competition Saturday, and the winning creation came from a restaurant in Utah.

Freshies Lobster of Park City beat out 11 other contenders, some from as far away as Los Angeles and Phoenix, for the prize at the competition organized by Down East magazine. Owners Ben and Lorin Smaha posed with a trophy Saturday bearing the words “WORLD’S BEST LOBSTER ROLL,” with Ben wearing a red hat in the shape of a lobster.

@freshieslobster just one #worldsbestlobster roll @downeastmagazine 1st annual competition!!

A post shared by Freshies Lobster Co (@freshieslobster) on


So, what made this particular lobster roll so great?

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“That first one was such a well-balanced lobster roll,” judge Michael Stern told the Bangor Daily News. “The meat was great, the bun was great, the seasoning was great, it was just kind of perfect.”

Stern said he has been eating lobster rolls since 1977 and estimated he’s eaten thousands of them. He said the judges did take into consideration that the winning company is based in Utah, but at the end of the day said the judges based their decision on which lobster roll was best.

The Smahas use both mayonnaise and hot butter in their lobster roll as well as the traditional New England-style hot dog bun, according to their website. And before you worry that New England lobster rolls are losing their touch, know that the pair hail from New England. Lorin is from New Hampshire, while Ben grew up in Maine.

The lobster roll competition was held as part of the magazine’s first-ever Lobster Roll Festival in Portland. Thunderstorms and larger-than-expected crowds put a damper on some of the festivities, however, and a number of attendees complained that they faced parking problems and long lines for food.


Attendees were evacuated from the event when thunderstorms rolled in, according to Portland Police, who posted photos of damage to tents following the storm.

Down East apologized for the issues in a Facebook post on Monday.

Christina Prignano can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.