LobsterCraft's Captain Mike Harden To Represent CT in Flavored Nation National Event

CTbites Team

‘The Coastal’ Lobster Roll named iconic food of Connecticut; Captain Mike Harden chosen to serve state dish at national event, Flavored Nation

Recruited by Flavored Nation’s expert culinary entertainment team, Harden among 50 chefs bringing a “taste of every state” to St. Louis, October 27-29

A new national food experience, Flavored Nation℠, is setting down inaugural roots in the Midwest, bringing with it a nationwide selection tastes and talent. Through extensive research conducted by a team of culinary experts and food entertainment veterans, Flavored Nation has identified the most iconic food from each of the 50 states. Those 50 dishes – as well as the restaurateurs or chefs who prepare them best – will travel to the St. Louis’ Dome at America’s Center, October 27-29, giving up to 12,000 attendees (as well as to-be-announced celebrity guests) the chance to feast from sea to shining sea. A taste of every state. 

Captain Mike Harden has been chosen to represent Connecticut at Flavored Nation’s inaugural event, serving the state’s iconic ‘hot with butter’ lobster roll (also known as ‘the coastal’) to thousands of food enthusiasts – alongside chefs and restaurateurs from 49 other states. A Coast Guard captain and licensed lobster fisherman, Harden founded LobsterCraft in 2012 after friends asked if he could catch, cook and prepare lobster for them. Realizing the void in fresh, local lobster, Harden purchased a truck with the help of close friend and food connoisseur, Trond Fletcher, and began rolling. Today, LobsterCraft has broadened to two full service lobster roll trucks that operate across Connecticut, New York state, Westchester County, and Misquamicut, Rhode Island.

Flavored Nation is spearheaded by its executive producer Richard Gore, who has been developing live culinary entertainment since the mid-1990s (back when food events weren’t a thing). He served as president of live events at Food Network and led the development of “Food Network Live” and “Food University™ at Caesars Palace,” in addition to creating “eat-ertainment” marketing campaigns for brands like Heinz, P&G, Unilever, Ikea and Family Circle. 

At Gore’s side are fellow food entertainment veterans, David Rosengarten, Jared Bobkin and Bobby Parrish. Rosengarten is a two-time James Beard award winning food writer and was one of the first on-air talents at Food Network. He hosted “Food News & Views” then created and hosted the program “Taste,” which ran for eight years. He’s now Flavored Nation’s head of content. Bobkin is a Detroit-area executive chef who made it to the final rounds of FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen” season 15. He’s also Flavored Nation’s culinary director, conducting nationwide research with Rosengarten to determine the United States’ iconic foods and top eateries. Parrish, a Chicago native, is a home cook whose online brand FlavCity has a social following of more than 400K. He appeared on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” in 2006 and is now the friendly face of Flavored Nation’s online video series.

Supporting Flavored Nation’s culinary talent is GateHouse Media, one of the largest publishers of locally-based media in the United States, with publications in 36 states and more than 555 markets. Its division, GateHouse Live, an industry leader in event production and execution, will utilize the footprint at downtown St. Louis’ Dome at America’s Center to bring Flavored Nation to life – including three stages of custom entertainment in addition to 50 vendors providing authentic flavors from every state.

“America is incredibly passionate about food, which has moved from our plates to our screens and become a core part of today’s pop culture” said Gore. “For cooks and non-cooks alike, how we speak about food today is not how we talked about it 15 years ago. Food is reviewed, read about and watched on TV; and our social lives often revolve around eating. However, in a nation of documented culinary diversity, most people’s personal food experience is still limited to local geography and some occasional travel. It’s why a Chicagoan can argue extensively about the city’s best deep dish but has never tried chislic or huddish… the iconic foods of South Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. This is the perfect time for Flavored Nation. We want to fuel debate about local favorites and at the same time spur discovery people crave, providing access to 49 other state dishes that, for most, will be brand new.”

The vendors who will be in attendance include chefs and restaurateurs almost as iconic as the state dishes they’ll represent. In addition to Harden:

Coming from South Thomaston Maine with feuding lobster style, representing ‘cold with mayonnaise’ (also known as ‘lobster salad roll’) will be McLoons Lobster Shack’s Bree Douty. 

From Louisiana, gumbo recipe in hand, Flavored Nation will feature Dickie Brennan Jr., a New Orleans native and highly visible owner of four New Orleans restaurants - Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Palace Café, Bourbon House and Tableau. He’s also the scion of arguably the country’s most famous restaurant family (the Brennans took over management of the Garden District’s Commander’s Palace in the 1970s and helped launch the careers of world-famous chefs Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme).

From Texas’s Horseshoe Hill in Fort Worth, celebrity cowboy chef Grady Spears will cook chicken fried steak in full western regalia. What is chicken fried steak? It is a thin piece of beef, often “cube steak,” which has been tenderized and is well-seasoned, battered or coated in some fashion. It then goes into the deep fryer until golden-brown on the outside and just cooked-through on the inside. Spears then ladles a cream gravy over it.


“No one wrote a guidebook on how to authentically identify the United States’ most iconic foods,” said Rosengarten. “It’s been an amazing adventure and challenge. Some states, like Louisiana, California and New York, are well known for multiple dishes. For other states, like South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska, I personally drew a blank. Through exhaustive research, consumer input via social media and conversations with state tourism boards, we’ve mapped it out. Now, we’re stacking our roster. Restaurants and chefs can’t buy their way in. This is invite only, and we’ll be bringing the best of the best for an unrivaled culinary experience this fall at Flavored Nation.”

For more information on Flavored Nation, and to purchase tickets, visit www.flavorednation.com. Also follow Flavored Nation on Facebook (facebook.com/flavorednation), Twitter and Instagram (@flavorednation), and share your iconic food passions by using the hashtag #flavorednation.

About Flavored Nation

Flavored Nation Productions LLC, located in New York, NY, are producers of original culinary entertainment properties available through live events, video, print, digital content, television programming and merchandising. More at www.flavorednation.com.