The 7th Annual Claw Down Chefs
Theron Thomas, Executive Chef – Newagen Seaside Inn
A native of Jamaica, Chef Thomas discovered his passion in 2002, obtaining a Culinary Certification in Food Preparation Management at the Heart Trust National Training Agency. Upon graduation, he worked at several well-known hotels on Jamaica’s North Coast where he quickly worked his way up to secure positions as Junior Sous Chef at Jewel’s Runaway Bay, and Head Chef at Mystic Ridge in Ocho Rios. He continued his career in the United States where he worked at high-end restaurants and hotels in Boston, Alabama, Florida and New York.
In 2016, Chef Thomas joined Newagen Seaside Inn’s kitchen as Sous Chef, and ascended to Executive Chef the next season. Chef believes that the most flavorful cuisine is made simply, with the highest quality products; his passion shines through in every plate that comes out of his kitchen.
Kelly Farrin, Chef and Owner – Carriage House Restaurant
A Boothbay and Southport native, Farrin’s culinary journey has come full circle. Starting as a short-order cook at Boothbay’s Andrews’ Harborside right out of high school, his interest was peaked. Stints at Boothbay Harbor’s Rocktide Inn and the Church Street Tavern in Burlington, Vermont each brought elevated degrees in volume of service as well as an introduction to fine dining, which led to his earning a degree in the culinary arts at the New England Culinary Institute in 2008. From there it was the Hot Tin Roof in Key West, Florida, and back to Maine at Azure Café in Freeport as Sous Chef. Farrin earned the title Lobster Chef of the Year in 2010 at Portland’s Harvest on the Harbor. This opened the door to a position at Primo in Rockland, Maine where Farrin worked under his mentor, Chef Melissa Kelly. In the spring of 2016 Farrin purchased and re-opened the Carriage House Restaurant which had been closed since 2002. Farrin’s menu features fresh seafood, local farm-raised produce, local meats, and the bar features craft cocktails and beer.
Timmothy Murray – Mine Oyster
From an early age, Chef Timmothy Murray had a growing curiosity about the power of food to bring groups of people together, and he appreciated the positive impact good food can have on people's lives. When he began his professional career at the age of 14 in the kitchen of the iconic Dolphin Striker in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, his appreciation grew into passion. He noticed how many important moments in life are centered around a communal 'breaking of the bread' and he knew he had found his life's pursuit. Over the next 16 years his passion grew as he climbed the ranks in a number of kitchens all over New England.
In 2014 Chef Murray met past Claw Down Champion, Chef Stephen Richards, and began his first season in Boothbay Harbor as his Sous Chef. Under Chef Richards guidance, Chef Murray honed his techniques and moved on to The Cloud 9 Restaurant at the Senator Inn in Augusta. He is now back in Boothbay Harbor where he works his magic at Mine Oyster.
Karin Guerin, Executive Chef – The Boathouse Bistro Tapas Bar & Restaurant.
Chef Guerin won the People's Choice Award in our fifth annual Claw Down! Chef Guerin grew up on a farm in Austria where her family grew their own produce and raised their own livestock. Inspired by her mother, Karin developed an appreciation for farm fresh ingredients. At 19 she was under the wing of a Master Chef who helped her to hone her skills at a five-star resort in the Austrian Alps! Karin's influence and inspiration is evident throughout the menu and tapas style format at the Boathouse Bistro. She brings over 25 years of experience to the Claw Down competition.
Ralph C Smith II., Executive Chef – Mine Oyster
Ralph will be representing Cod's Head, one of his three restaurants in Boothbay Harbor.
Ralph is a self-taught Chef that has stolen everything he knows about food from people he respects. He has worked all over the country and has worked with exceptional Chefs throughout the states. He continues to learn on a daily basis from young Chefs he employs in his restaurants. Hiring young talented people is exciting; watching them get all crazy about what they are creating is why the restaurant business stays fun to Ralph. Another of Ralph’s mentors is Chef Karin Guerin and co-owner of the Boat House Bistro. “Karin is probably the best Chef I have ever worked with, I watch in awe as she conducts her symphony of chaos in the kitchen at the Boat House Bistro. Karin’s preparedness, “mise en plase” is super human and unwavering,” says Ralph. She has inspired Ralph in many ways with her culinary genius.
Michael Head, Chef de Cuisine – Linekin Bay Resort
Born and raised in Manchester, NH, Michael started his cooking career at the age of 19 and attended Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI. His culinary career of 31 years has taken him from his beginnings in New Hampshire to Providence, RI, Portland, ME, San Francisco, CA, and Vermont. After having worked at Linekin Bay Resort in 1995, Michael returned this summer as the Chef de Cuisine. In his free time he likes to travel, Thailand being a favorite destination. He also enjoys biking, swimming, and reading.
Stephen Richards, Regional Executive Chef – Lafayette Hotels, Boothbay Harbor
Stephen has been passionate about food from a young age. Richards grew up in Wiscasset, Maine, and his enthusiasm for all things culinary has fueled his life-long passion for cooking. With over 20 years of experience in the kitchen, Richards’ effortless and experienced techniques shine through as he continues to push his creative style to new levels. At Fisherman’s Wharf, the restaurant he currently calls home, guests are wowed with his fresh, award-winning cuisine and innate understanding of the farm to fork approach.
Richards is no stranger to the podium—in 2014 he took home the People’s Choice Award in a landslide victory at Claw Down, and he stole the show at Harvest on the Harbor when he earned the coveted title of Maine Lobster Chef of the Year. In 2017 he defended his title by capturing the People’s Choice Award, becoming the first ever two-time recipient of Maine Lobster Chef of the Year. Richards was at it again this year when he took home the award for Best Bite at the 2018 Boothbay Harbor Fest.
Chef Richards prides himself in giving people a different eating experience and has a true appreciation for seasonality and integrity of ingredients. When not in the kitchen, Richards enjoys relaxing at home or spending time with family—especially with his nieces and nephew.
Dana Moos, Cookbook Author & B&B/Lodging Specialist
Dana and her husband escaped the bustle of the DC suburbs in Maryland in 2004 to buy an inn in Southwest Harbor. She has wholeheartedly embraced the state slogan “The way life should be,” since moving here. Dana is a cookbook author, food and beverage writer for Edible Maine and guest chef cooking instructor at Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. In her cookbook, The Art of Breakfast, she shares her recipes and tips for her artful gourmet breakfasts she served at her inn and that she has worked on perfecting since. Dana’s B&B was even acclaimed by such prominent publications as Condé Nast Traveler for her three-course breakfasts. She believes in creating artful and whimsical dishes with simple ingredients put together in unique ways.
Along with her love of food and food photography, she has immersed herself into Maine’s bed and breakfast hospitality industry selling B&Bs, inns, hotels and motels throughout the beautiful state of Maine. Dana is working on a second edition to the Art of Breakfast due out May 2019. It will have 60 new recipes including breakfast, brunch, small bites, cocktails and 10 specialty poached egg dishes.
Henning Vagtborg – Maine Craft Distilling
After growing up in Ohio, Henning Vagtborg began his culinary career opening King Eider’s Pub in Damariscotta, Maine. After several years he began a 15-year stay in Boston working with Jasper White at the Summer Shack, Lydia Shire at Scampo, Ron Abell at Fenway Park, and John Paine at The Brewer’s Fork. Returning to Maine in 2017 with his wife & daughter, Autumn & Isabel, he spent some time at Little Giant before finding his home in the kitchen of Maine Craft Distilling where he lives Farm to Table every day.
Anthony Barbeau & Arron Blount – Cod’s Head Fish House & BBQ
Anthony Barbeau has been working with The Boothbay Harbor Restaurant Group for 6 years (The Boat House Bistro, Mine Oyster and Cod's Head Fish House & BBQ). Working with Chef Karin Guerin for 4 years, Chef Ralph C Smith at Mine Oyster and Cod's Head Fish House and BBQ.
Aaron Blount has been working for 4 years at Mine Oyster and Cod's Head Fish house and BBQ as a lead on which ever line he works. BBHRG is lucky to have these fine young Chefs as part of their team!
Dick Reid, Owner – The Thistle Inn
Dick Reid probably considers himself more of a business man than a chef. Somehow with all the twists and turns life brought him, Dick’s office was always in the kitchen cooking. Through his 8 years in the pizza business starting as a General Manger for a corporate chain, with stints on the line at Damariscotta River Grill and The Anchor Inn, food & cooking has long been a passion for Dick. As the new owner of The Thistle Inn Restaurant, Dick is almost always in the kitchen, on either side of the line, carefully watching and perfecting each dish as it leaves the kitchen. Dick shares his accolades with his very talented culinary crew and takes little credit for any dish in it’s entirety. Since owning The Thistle Inn, Dick and the Thistle crew took People’s Choice in the 2017 Claw Down and won Best Taste in the 2017 Harbor Fest. Dick won judges choice in the 2018 Crab Cake Cook-off and The Thistle Inn took Best of The Fest in 2018.