Thursday April 17th 2014

Eat early, eat often: Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off

By: Shannon Bryan

Breakfast. It’s tops for us early risers. And we brunchers. And those of us who aren’t ashamed to eat pancakes at 8 pm. Celebrate the First Meal at The Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off March 1 at Sea Dog Brewing Co., South Portland.

Is it the bacon that makes breakfast the most looked-forward-to meal of the day? Or are we naturally inclined to fall in love with the first meal we see when we wake up in the morning (the same way a freshly hatched duckling becomes captivated by the first face it sees, be it duck face or non-duck face).

I’ll leave it to the experts to hash out the psychological implications, because the phrase “hash out” already has me distractedly daydreaming about hash browns. And corned beef hash. And french toast.

There’s a place for us early eaters – those of us who see every day as a waiting period between breakfasts. It’s The Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off, taking place March 1 from 7-9 am at Sea Dog Brewing Company in South Portland. The cook-off is a breakfast-centered competition between local restaurants. And we all win. Attendees sample the edible entries – from to eggs Benedict to the champion crème brulée French toast from Lisa Kostopolous of The Good Table, which has won the last three years.

The Good Table’s Lisa Kostopoulos has a creme brulee french toast that apparently can’t be beat. (It is excellent, but who knows what the competition will bring this year.)

The Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off is the first event of Maine Restaurant Week, which runs March 1-10. And the first meal is the most important (read: Eat up. You’ll need your stamina to make the most of MRW. Think “carb loading”). It also helps raised funds for the Preble Street Resource Center (an impressive $4,000 last year). That’s worth waking up early for.

Here’s this year’s culinary competition:
Norm Hebert, Bintliff’s Restaurant of Ogunquit
Gary Leech, Congdon’s Doughnuts
Jeff Landry, The Farmer’s Table
Darryl Murray, Freeport Seafood Co.
Lisa Kostopoulos, The Good Table Restaurant
Mary Payne, Pepperclub/Good Egg
Kevin Fallen, The Roost/Phat Boys Cafe
Matt Tremblay, Sea Dog Brewing Co.
Kevin Cunningham, Tavern, Inn at Brunswick Station
Paul Dyer, Thornton’s Grille
Shannon Bard, Zapoteca Restaurante Y Tequileria

Cook-off tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com . This event sells out every year, so if you want in, get on it.

FMI on The Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off and Maine Restaurant Week: www.mainerestaurantweek.com