PERRYSBURG — If you travel through Maine, you will likely be tempted to get a quick bite at lobster shacks along the highway.
Walt Churchill’s Market has brought the shack to Perrysburg, at Walt’s Kitchen, where seafood specialist Riley Richardson is in charge. His lobster roll is the definition of Maine culinary treats.
The waters off the coast of Maine are home to 80% of the lobster meat served in the U.S. A lobster shack is typically a small, stand-alone building with a walkup window to order and picnic tables for dining.
They are usually located along the water and have views of the ocean and the lobster fishing boats. Lobster shacks, in addition to selling whole lobsters and lobster rolls, usually also offer clam chowder and homemade desserts.
Richardson says Walt’s Kitchen’s lobster rolls are 80% meat, “so there is a lot of meat in there.”
“It’s just a high-quality lobster roll, lobster wild-caught, high-quality ingredients, authentic Maine style recipe,” Richardson said. “We make it for holidays, especially for a fish fry or our Lobster Fest event. We’re going to make a lot of lobster rolls.
“We are mainly doing the Maine style, which is a cold mayo-based which is a sort of lobster salad-roll in a brioche hot dog bun. They are really good,” Richardson continued.
It’s a quick sandwich suitable for summer.
“It’s a light, refreshing good dish. It’s cold,” Richardson said. “The Maine one is good in the summer. It’s not heavy so you can eat it and be refreshed.
“The other lobster rolls, the warm ones, I would not eat those in the summer so that’s why we do the Maine one.”
Saturday was Churchill’s Second Annual Lobster Fest, but don’t worry, there will be more “fests,” especially as demand calls for it. Lobster rolls will continue to be available at Walt’s Kitchen, too.
The last lobster fest was held for a week, Aug. 1-7, and included Coldwater Northern Lobster (flown in live and steamed), lobster bisque (cold or hot), grilled lobster on the half shell, lobster mac ‘n cheese, and lobster cheddar and chive scones.
Richardson, a 2022 Perrysburg High School graduate, has worked in the deli at Churchill’s since the first week after his 16th birthday.
His family is originally from North Carolina but has resided in Perrysburg most of his life.
“I love food, seafood especially,” Richardson said. “I’ve worked here for a while, and I’ve always done seafood, and my parents like seafood. We go to Florida a lot, so I’ve grown up eating a lot of it and know a good bit about it.
“You really learn as you go. From the day I started I really liked it. I like all the people back here a lot,” he said. “It’s nice, not a lot of pressure, you learn as you go. With how I handle seafood now, I can get a lot more creative ideas and freedom. These I come up with a lot more than I used to.”
The seafood is flown in from M.F. Foley Fish Company in Boston and New Bedford, Massachusetts, a fourth-generation family-owned business which has been in business since 1906.
Churchill’s Market has been operating in Northwest Ohio since 1917, so they know a good thing when they see it because of over 100 years of experience.
“I handle most of the fresh fish in our fresh case,” Richardson said. “We fly that in from Boston mainly, from Foley.
“They do a lot of high-quality seafood for a lot of high-quality restaurants around here, too — high-end steakhouses and stuff like that. This is great fish. We get it in three times per week. It is always fresh, never frozen,” he said.
“We make a lot of good dinners. We have a halibut dinner, which is popular right now. I make that one and I really like the way that one turns out.”
The lobster rolls are made from bulk meat, frozen and thawed, but the meat still comes from wild lobster caught in Maine.
Richardson is working on his business degree at the University of Toledo, then plans on going into law school.
“I want to get into business law, contract law, stuff like that someday. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” he said.
“I plan on working here through college, this isn’t my main career goal,” Richardson said. “It’s a really nice place to work, they are friendly, flexible and I enjoy working here. It is a good environment, so I plan on staying here for a good while.”
Maybe when Richardson makes his fortune in business law, he and his associates will partner to open a high-quality seafood restaurant in the metro area. He says that would be “awesome.”
Maine Lobster Roll
Split-top brioche hot dog bun or soft split top bun
1 pound cooked lobster meat (meat from about 3 1¼-1½ pound lobsters)
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream
¼ cup fine diced celery (squeeze dry)
¼ teaspoon celery salt
pinch ground black pepper
pinch granulated garlic powder
garnish of fine diced chives or green onion and lemon
Chill lobster meat/rough crop. In separate bowl, add all ingredients except lobster. Mix well. Delicately toss with lobster meat. Evenly spread over the three split top buns.
This makes three rolls.