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Da Lobsta Headed to Lobster Rumble in New York, Launching Food Truck Here

 Da Lobsta is preparing to compete in the Tasting Table Lobster Rumble in New York, and to start up a food truck in Chicago.
Da Lobsta in Lobster Rumble NYC
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GOLD COAST — Da Lobsta owner J Wolf isn't doing much to prepare for a national lobster roll competition except putting his faith in the U.S. Postal Service.

As the only Chicago competitor in the Tasting Table Lobster Rumble June 5 in New York City, Wolf has to ship his ingredients overnight, save for the lobster itself (his supplier is on the East Coast).

The fifth annual event is, not surprisingly, crowded with New England heavies like the 46-year-old Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine.

"We were really honored they considered us part of the pack," said Wolf, 31, who opened his lobster shack at 12 E. Cedar St. last January, followed by a second location in the Chicago French Market, 131 N. Clinton St. "We're just going to go there and do business as usual."

Though Da Lobsta specializes in ethnic spins on the lobster roll, Wolf said he has the proprietary goods that make his traditional version stand out, which is what all 24 restaurants competing in the Lobster Rumble are expected to present.

"We infuse garlic into a special butter blend, and we make our own mayo that we infuse with tarragon. And we work with a local bakery to make our own New England-style bun. All those items, we'll ship overnight," he said.

Helping him at the contest will be his girlfriend, two friends who live in New York and two interns provided by event sponsors. He's been told to have ready 1,500 lobster roll bites, or roughly 500 lobster rolls cut in threes.

"Whether we win or not, the fact that we were just invited says a lot about our brand," Wolf said.

In Chicago, the Da Lobsta brand is expanding with a food truck that Wolf hopes to have running in the next few weeks.

In April, Wolf raised $70,000 for the truck in three days through Chicago-based Bolstr, an online marketplace that connects small businesses with investors via revenue-sharing arrangements.

The truck's menu will be similar to what's offered at the French Market location, anchored by the classic lobster roll, a lobster BLT and a lobster grilled cheese.

Lobster and shrimp tacos, new to the menu at the Gold Coast shop, might also make an appearance on the truck, Wolf said.