Portland, Maine, Erik Desjarlais, Browne Trading Company, Fish, Smoked Fish, Fresh Fish, Where to buy fresh fish, where to buy the best fish, where do chefs buy their fish, where to eat seafood, best seafood cookbook, Hugo's, Esca, Uchi, Fish & Shellfish, The Cook's Indispensable Companion, New York, Manhattan, Austin, Portland, Maine, Amazon.com, Rod Browne Mitchell, Jean-Louis Palladin, Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, Bill Telepan, David Pasternack, Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, Tom Colicchio


When I was a kid I was blown away by the television series “Great Chefs.” I can remember an episode with the late, great Jean-Louis Palladin. I think he was still at The Watergate. He was making a venison loin with rhubarb and I remember the episode clear as day. He was sautéing in foie gras fat, and he said it OVER and over again in his thick, raspy, guttural French accent. “Foie Gras Fat.” Almost like it was one word.  “Fwah-grahh-fat.” I was fortunate enough to meet Chef Palladin before he passed away. I was a young, aggressive line cook, not even 22 yet, full of piss and vinegar. Greatness stood before me, with wild hair and the mustache of all mustaches. I don’t even remember what I said, but it began with “Uhhhhh... hi Chef....”

Rewind two decades or so. Jean-Louis came to the United States from his native France, and was pretty disgusted with what we had to offer for goods. He found a guy in Maine named Rod Browne Mitchell. Mitchell’s family had a long career, deep rooted in Maine hunting, fishing and guiding. Mitchell had followed his roots and opened a wine and cheese shop in Camden, Maine. Jean-Louis asked Mitchell to find him fresh scallops, like he knew from the coastal France. Mitchell was the first to offer the chef a true “Maine Diver Scallop” harvested by hand and shucked right out of the water, by a diver.  Mitchell knew about other local goodies, like piballes, urchins, and little sand crabs, nicknamed “Picked Toe.” The “Picked Toe” crabs were a by-product of the Lobster industry in Maine, and were usually tossed back, until some savvy down east lobstermen built little shacks to pluck the sweet crabmeat from the shells. Pronounce the word “picked” with two syllables, and the nickname evolved in to “Peekytoe,” a name all too familiar among chefs. These goods, harvested from our chilly Maine coastal waters and inlets, have put Mr. Rod Browne Mitchell on the culinary map, as an innovator, entrepreneur, and seafood guru. Big name chefs wanted his diver scallops, glass eels, and “Peekytoe” crabmeat.

In 1984, Mitchell worked his way into the caviar importing business, and to this day, brings us the best caviars in the world. Hand selected eggs sit in tins in the magical place, “The Caviar Room” as we cooks call it. If you are okay with wearing sanitized hairnets and booties, you can take a tour of this magical place. Glistening mounds of sturgeon eggs will surround you, and if you are lucky enough, you can taste. 

Beyond the local catch, caviars and shellfish, Browne imports seafood from the Pacific and European waters as well. Mediterranean fish of all sorts have passed through my doors and in to my bouillabaisse pot. Dover sole, turbot, loup de mer, mullet, scorpion fish and John Dory have all been roasted and carved table-side here at Evangeline

Hake, haddock, cod, wolf fish, monkfish and skate wing are all caught at our back door, and periwinkles and whelks are secured for the guests who love them.  

I have had wild arctic char actually from the Arctic Circle, net harvested by hand by a local fisherman. Fresh sardines and anchovies from Portugal, yabbi’s from Australia, and live glass eels from a culvert that “you can’t get to from here.”  Super fresh local halibut, actually from a day-boat, has adorned our center island prep table. Don’t be confused… day boats are actually a real thing, not just a buzzword to make the guest think it is fresh. 

Our Diver scallops this year were harvested by Ed Monat III, also known as “Diver Ed.”  Some were almost a quarter pound, and would twitch when poked. 

The staff at Browne Trading Company are top notch as well.  The Sales Manager, Lucas “Luke” Meyers, has been there for as long as I have been doing business with them... and longer, I’m sure.  There is a special thing going on. He can sell me $1,000 worth of caviar one day, and $20 worth of mussels the next day, and I know I’m still getting the same treatment as the chefs I look up to in New York, Las Vegas, and California. And I’m just me. The commitment to customer service is like nothing I have seen. Maintaining the relationship is paramount, and these guys know it. I don’t think they even try, honestly, they are all just good guys and gals, who understand quality of product, personality, professionalism and life. They have raised the bar… no, they have created the bar, and continue to maintain that level, and more often than not, exceed it.  They are all little fishmonger Buddhas, running amuck in a playground filled with langoustines, Maine shrimps, daurade and oysters. At the helm, Rod Mitchell and his wife, Cynd. 

The first time I visited Browne Trading Company, back in 2001, I was pleased to see a photo on the wall, of two young gentlemen crouched over some rocks, with ocean water swirling around their feet.  They were shucking live sea scallops from their shells. Jean-Louis Palladin and Rod Mitchell, somewhere in the 80’s, somewhere in Maine, loving what they do, and maybe not knowing exactly the impact they would have on chefs of the future. Especially yours truly, who’s life and career have been touched by their foresight, ingenuity, passion and overall understanding of what is good.

So thank you Jean-Louis, for demanding only the best. And thank you, Rod Mitchell, for providing us with only the best.


Browne Trading Company’s recommendations for restaurants in Portland, Maine, New York, and Austin.



Seafood Purveyor

Downtown Portland

Browne Trading Market

262 Commercial Street

Portland, ME 04101 (view map)

T: 800.944.7848 / 207.775.7560



Q & A

Recommended By

- Chef Marc Forgione

- Chef Erik Desjarlais

- Chef Krista Kern Desjarlais


Browne Trading Company’s recommendations for restaurants in Portland, Maine, New York, and Austin.

F.E.D. Travel Guides
Find a travel guide »


F.E.D. Travel Guides
Find a travel guide »../../../../../guide/download_guides.html../../../../../guide/download_guides.htmlshapeimage_22_link_0