« January 2011 Table of Contents
Networking: Kelly Patrick Farrin
Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Sous Chef, Azure Café, Freeport, Maine
By James Wright
January 01, 2011
"I’m trying to get my name out there, but my heart is here in Maine."
Kelly Patrick Farrin has a very Irish name and the telltale
red hair that gives away his lineage. But it's the Italian
cuisine he whips up in Freeport, Maine, that's putting Azure Café on the map. Not that the restaurant is all that hard to
find: It's just a couple doors down from renowned
outdoor-outfitter L.L. Bean's flagship store.
At 27 years of age and with only a handful of entries on his
resume, Farrin's culinary career lies mostly ahead of him; he
joined Azure in early 2010. The Boothbay Harbor native did,
however, make a name for himself in October when he became the
Maine Lobster Chef of the Year by winning a cooking contest at
the emerging Portland foodie event Harvest
on the Harbor. When
presenting Farrin his $1,000 check, Maine Lobster Promotion
Council Executive Director Dane Somers told him, "Prepare to be
famous."WRIGHT: What was your winning dish
and its inspiration?
FARRIN: Herb Grilled Maine Lobster Tail on Arugula with Chive
Ricotta Gnocchi and Corn Milk. We were asked to portray a fall
harvest with fall ingredients. But we [put our recipe together]
in the middle of July, which was a challenge.How did you get into cooking?
I got thrown into it at 18, cooking breakfast at Andrew's
Harborside [in Boothbay Harbor, Maine]. Every restaurant there
is seasonal, very touristy. It's the Lobster Capital of the
World. The peninsula, on a map, kinda looks like a lobster. [My
time there] made me think it would be a good career, being
around all the seafood. We had lots of clambakes in the summers
as a kid.Would you describe the cuisine
at Azure as traditional
I'd say it's more sea-grill Italian; you can get your
classic Italian dishes but also baked stuffed haddock, salmon
and halibut dishes. There's a big variety of seafood beyond the
coast of Maine that we have access to.What seafood species inspire you?
Maine lobster, to start; there are so many variations. Maine
crabmeat is a delicacy and we don't even realize it here. Fresh
fish like halibut, haddock and salmon. But my favorite to cook
is tuna, because of all the temperatures you can utilize.Do you serve bluefin tuna?
No. We actually don't even have tuna on the menu. The
consistency isn't always the same. I worked for a bit in Key
West, and the tuna there is fresh off the boat. But it's not as
easy [to source] up here.How difficult is it to buy local in a northern climate like
In the summer it's fairly easy. We have our own garden for
fresh produce and herbs. Buying locally, as far as meats, we
have a local farm for beef called Wolfe's Neck. In the winter
we change over to root vegetables and broccoli, while in the
summer it's asparagus. We go with the season and what's
available. People want variety and change on the menu.Have you seen a change in your customers' mindsets that
tells you that the worst of the recession is over?
Yeah, definitely. People are starting to come more and more.
Freeport has more new shops and a new plaza now, and the
traffic is coming harder and harder. In the summers, people go
to Freeport to go shopping and we're right near L.L. Bean, you
can't miss us.
What was your reaction when you were told to "prepare to be
I don't know - the possibilities are endless. I'm trying to
get my name out there, but my heart is here in Maine.