Luke’s Lobster’s Ben Conniff Talks About Forthcoming Cookbook

Conniff and seafood-sandwich partner Luke Holden are co-authoring a collection of recipes and stories about Maine.

Famous for their seafood-stuffed sandwiches, the co-owners of Luke’s Lobster are writing a cookbook. Photograph by Flickr user roboppy.

Earlier this month, Publisher’s Marketplace reported a forthcoming cookbook from the owners of Luke’s Lobster—the New York-based seafood spot with three locations in Washington (in Penn Quarter, Georgetown, and Bethesda). We caught up with Ben Conniff, who co-owns the chain with Maine native and Georgetown grad Luke Holden, to get the details on the forthcoming tome, The Luke’s Lobster Cookbook: Real Food From the Heart of Maine.

How long has the book been in the works?

Just about three years now. It’s been a long process from getting the idea to making it a reality.

What prompted you to write one?

Since we’ve opened, we’ve always thought the rest of the world deserved a better idea of what Maine food is really about. I think when DownEast Magazine named us the Best Maine Food Ambassador Outside of Maine in 2010, we thought, “That really distills exactly what we want to be.” And writing a cookbook is a way that we can do that even better.

Is it all recipes, or a mixture of recipes and stories?

It’s a mixture. So much of every meal is about your scenery and the people around you, and Maine has some of the most unique and inspiring cooks out there. Their stories are as fascinating as their recipes.

Where does the content come from? Family? Restaurants?

A mixture. We’ll include recipes from Luke’s, from our families and friends, and from chefs, home cooks, farmers, and all manner of folks making food all over the state.

What other cookbooks were you inspired by?

So many. In particular, those that have a firm sense of place, people, and story and a dedication to natural, local ingredients. Hugh Acheson’s A New Turn in the South comes to mind. The Frankies Spuntino [Kitchen Companion]The River Cottage Fish Book. Also great food writing that’s not recipe-related, like Calvin Trillin, Bill Buford, and E.B. White, a great Maine writer himself.

When do you expect it to come out?

Spring 2015.