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features memorial day:
Can You Dig It? A Step-By-Step Guide to a Classic Clambake
By Amy Tarr

If you’re not a native New Englander, the term “clambake” probably conjures up images of Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae twirling around in “Carousel,” the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about a pair of star-crossed lovers living in a small fishing village in Maine.
» more
Chefs Todd English & Victor LaPlaca of Olives
•Traditional New England Clambake
•Olives 5-Clam Chowda
•Lobster and Vermont White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese
•Cold Potato Salad with Grilled Sweet Slab Bacon
•Bibb Lettuce Salad with Fiery Shrimp Dressing
•Crispy Spicy Pickles
•Crunchy Mango and Berry Cobbler with Lime Sorbet


At least that’s what came to my mind, until I had the opportunity to learn how to build my own clambake from Chef Victor LaPlaca, Executive Chef of Olives in New York.

Earlier this year, Victor and his partner, Todd English, transplanted the classic northern festivity to Miami Beach of all places, for the 4th Annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Hosted by Chef Jason McClain at Nikki Beach, the Olives chefs demonstrated their prowess in building a mammoth steam machine.

“Digging the hole is the hardest part,” says LaPlaca. “We had six guys digging the whole day before,” he says of the South Beach clambake, which served several hundred guests. “It would be a lot of work for one person.”

Just in time for Memorial Day, Victor offers this step-by-step guide to building your own clambake. In addition to the classic elements like lobster, mussels, clams and corn on the cob, he shares recipes for all the accoutrements, from Olives’ signature 5-Clam Chowda as an appetizer, to Crunchy Mango and Berry Cobbler for dessert. In keeping with the lively, communal vibe of the traditional clambake, Victor recommends serving all the sides family-style.

Serving berry cobbler at Nikki Beach on

Chef photos by Michael Katz

  • Star Chef Todd English of Olives
  • Grill Tips
  • Forum: Favorite Dishes at Olives

  •    Published: May 2005

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