John Maher:  Hi. I’m John Maher. Today I’m here at Woodman’s with Curt Fougere, a fourth generation Woodman, and Kristi Swett, a fifth generation Woodman. Today we’re talking about throwing a backyard clambake. Curt and Kristi, welcome.

historic clambake photo

Kristi Swett:  Hi, John.

Curt Fougere:  Hi. Nice to be here.

Clambake Location Pros and Cons

John:  Kristi, I’ve decided to throw a clambake in my backyard. What are some of the pros and cons about having a clambake at my house versus holding it at an outside venue?

Kristi:  Either/or is a great option. It really depends on the type of event you’re having, and the amount of space or the formality of the event. It depends on the weather. Some people do choose to do a backyard, but then it adds a little bit of cost because they are bringing in a tent. They have to bring in tables and chairs.

If you go to a venue, most places do have some covered area, and have equipment there for you to use.

John:  How much space does the clambake equipment take up, and is there a rule in terms of the number of people that I can invite given the size of my backyard?

Curt:  The space that the catering part will take up is, basically, we use two eight‑foot tables. We’d need about five feet of space behind those tables, and then with our cooking equipment, usually about a 10‑by‑10 foot radius. We can cook in people’s driveways, or off onto the grass, or to the side.

The number of people that you can fit into your backyard is mainly the size of your backyard. If you’re going to have, say, 50 people over, you may need five 10‑foot round tables that you’re going to put 10 people at each one, be able to move around comfortably in‑between, and be able to get up to the catering table itself.

It really depends on the size of the backyard, the number of people that you’re going to be able to fit in there.

John:  Right. I suppose you’d want to consider also entertainment and things like that. If there’s going to be young kids maybe at the party, is there going to be a space devoted where they can run around? That might affect things a little bit as well. You want to keep all those things into consideration.

Curt:  You definitely want to consider all those things. If some parties want a DJ, they may want a dance floor out there. It can be a casual atmosphere, but you can also do all those things with it.

If you’re going to put up a tent, that’s going to be limited to the size of your tent on what you’re going to be able to put underneath it for bad weather, or you could be doing it inside the house and outside the house, so you may be able to fit more people, in that aspect.

New England Clambake Menu

John:  What’s typically on a New England clambake menu?

Kristi:  Typically you’d start off with some clam chowder, and then have some steamed clams, or mussels, or both. You’d have some boiled lobster, some type of meat option, in case there are guests that aren’t a huge fan of seafood. The sides are typically corn on the cob, coleslaw, and then finish up with some type of dessert.

John:  Do I need to provide some of the food myself, or does the caterer normally provide everything?

Curt:  Most caterers will provide anything that you’d like. If you’d like appetizers to start off, or a cocktail hour, raw bar, something that where people may just be mingling around and getting to meet each other, talk to each other at that time, but it really depends on if you want to do something yourself.

Some people like to do a potluck where people bring different appetizers to begin with, but most catering menus will take care of all of your needs from start to finish.

Other Clambake Supplies

John:  What about other supplies besides food? Is there anything that the homeowner needs to provide to the caterer, or that the caterer might need in order to do the clambake?

Curt:  Depending on the menu or the food items that you choose, generally you need an outside hose, water outlet. Usually most caterers will need some type of electricity powered to them.

Occasionally we may need to use an oven that may be inside the house for heating or warming up a certain food item, but other than that, that’s pretty much all that the caterers need.

How long does a clambake take to prepare?

John:  Kristi, how long will the clambake take to prepare, and how long before dinner should the caterer arrive?

Kristi:  If you’re just doing a standard clambake menu, we here at Woodman’s arrive one hour before the start of your first course. If you are looking for additional service or add‑ons, we do have people that can arrive prior to guest arrival to help you set tables, but it really all depends on the type of party you’re setting up.

John:  Kristi and Curt, thanks very much. That’s all good information.

Kristi:  Thank you, John.

Curt:  Thank you.

John:  For more information about catering, visit the Woodman’s website at or call 978‑768‑2559.

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