Olives New York
The W Hotel
Union Square
201 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Olives Traditional New England Clambake
Chefs Todd English and Victor LaPlaca of Olives – New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 10-15 adults, plus a few kids!


  • 5 1 to 1 pound lobsters ( lobster per person)
  • 3 or 4 (3-pound) whole fish such as snapper, grouper or black bass
  • 10 ear of corn (1 per person)
  • 60 littleneck clams (10 per person)
  • 60 Prince Edward Island mussels (10 per person)
  • 60 steamers, i.e. soft-shelled clams (10 per person)
  • 35 red bliss potatoes (3-4 per person)
  • 7 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 chorizo links, cut into large chunks (optional)
  • 5-10 eggs (optional)

Special Equipment:

  • 30 large pieces dry firewood
  • 1 large bag charcoal
  • 80 6-inch by 4-inch stones, about the size of cantaloupes
  • Canvas tarp, about 8-by-8 feet
  • Shovel
  • Straw broom
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Heat resistant gloves
  • Cheesecloth to wrap seafood in bundles
  • Kitchen twine
  • Long grilling tongs
  • 20 pounds of rockweed (type of seaweed commonly found in lobster tanks - order from fishmonger ahead of time)

Step 1: Pick a beautiful spot on the beach and dig a hole. For a 10-person clambake, dig a hole about 4-cubic feet (4-feet deep, 4-feet wide, and 4-feet long).

Step 2: Line the hole with round, heavy rocks, about the size of cantaloupes. For the South Beach clam bake, Chef LaPlaca bought rocks from a local nursery.

Step 3: Lay a little charcoal and a lot of wood in the pit and light a fire. “Basically you’re creating a huge bonfire,” says LaPlaca. “You want to let it burn and burn and burn until it’s just ash over the top, about four hours. “You’re heating the rocks to a ridiculous temperature to get the steaming effect.”

Step 4: Using a shovel, scoop out the big chunks of ash and pile them to the side of the pit. With a broom, sweep the smaller pieces of ash over the rocks to fill the spaces between the rocks, like grouting tile. “We started at 1 pm and let the wood burn for 5 hours before we started shoveling out the ash.”

Step 5: While the ash is burning for several hours, soak bushels of seaweed – like the kind you find in the lobster tanks at fish markets - in water for a few hours. Once the small pieces of ash have been swept between the rocks, throw the seaweed over the hot rocks. From this point on, it is important to work quickly because the pit starts to steam immediately.

Step 6: Create little packets of seafood, loosely wrapped in wet cheesecloth, and layer them around the pit. Lay packets of lobster down first, then mussels, clams, corn, red bliss potatoes, chorizo, and whole fish, spreading packets out evenly. Cover with more seaweed and then cover the whole pit with a canvas tarp that has also been soaked in water. (Make sure the tarp has no plastic or flammable lining.) Set a few rocks over the canvas so it doesn’t blow away on a breezy day.

Step 7: Steam for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Use tongs to remove cheesecloth pouches from the pit, place on plates, cut them open and serve with lots of drawn butter.

Helpful Hint:
When you scoop the ash out of the pit, pile it up nearby and set a pot of water on it. As you remove the cheesecloth pouches from the steaming pit, if you get sand in them, you can dunk them in the hot water and clean them easily.

Wine Pairing:
Trinchero Napa Reserve Vista Montone Chardonnay 2003
Trinchero Napa Reserve Main Street Cabernet Sauvignon 2000


   Published: May 2005