St. John Valley

Crowd descends on Madawaska to take in the poutine

MADAWASKA, Maine — For the third year in a row, Poutine Palooza brought a crowd of spectators to watch the poutine eating contest, taste different variations on the traditional dish, and find out which restaurant offered the best poutine in town.

Poutine eating contest

The poutine eating contest, sponsored by Big Rick’s Burgers and Wings, had the most contestants this year. Fourteen men and women bellied up to the table to scarf down as many french fried potatoes covered in gravy and cheese curds as they could in a 20-minute time period on Friday night.

Each contestant was given a to-go box filled with 2.5 pounds of Big Rick’s traditional poutine to start. After each box was emptied, another was placed in front of the contestants, and they continued to consume as much as possible.

Many contestants had to tap-out around 5 pounds, but several stayed until the end.

Chris Cyr of Grand Isle, who won second place in the contest, said he was surprised he placed at all.

“It was a fun experience that I didn’t think I would have done,” Cyr said. “My wife and family were saying I should do it, so I figured why not?”

Cyr decided to recycle the prize money of $100 back into the community Saturday morning.

“My wife and I went to the craft fair and spent [the money] supporting some local craftsmen,” he said. “We were planning on doing that already, but the money was a welcomed addition to our funds.”

The winner of the poutine eating contest was Zachariah Miksch, originally from Pennsylvania. Miksch moved to Presque Isle with his wife for work last year.

“I entered on a whim when we decided to drive the hour plus to the palooza because I like eating and I like competition,” Miksch said. Miksch attributes his winning to his double fork alternating style.

Food truck

Down on the other end of Party du Main Street, Mainely Meat ‘n Potatoes opened up its food truck and served only poutines. But it offered more than just the traditional.

Rita Dionne, the matriarch of the family-owned mobile eatery, came up with new varieties of poutine while still offering the eatery’s famous Donair poutine. With the help of her family’s ideas, Dionne created 10 new dishes, including a Big Mac poutine that was requested by enough people for it to become a permanent addition to the menu.

“I come from a cooking family, and I put quality, pride and my heart into it,” she said.

The family food truck sold about 310 poutine dishes Friday night, using close to 600 pounds of potatoes.

Best restaurant

The evening ended with the announcement of the Best Poutine Restaurant Contest results. The judges, St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Brian Bouley, board members Brenda Forbes and Lois Muller, and residents Cai Bouley and Seth Lagasse, had tasted all of the entries the previous Friday, Aug. 3.

Roy’s Variety won third place for its Romeo poutine, in honor of the Romeo poutine from Rosette’s Restaurant in Frenchville that closed about two years ago. The poutine featured a traditional poutine with chicken salad.

Morin’s Variety took second place with its breakfast poutine, featuring french fries, eggs, sausage and green peppers. First place was awarded to Orchid’s for its bananas foster sweet potato poutine. Finally, the award for the best traditional poutine went to Big Rick’s Burgers and Wings.

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