Woodman’s is one of the best places in New England, and the country, to get fresh, delicious seafood. They’ve shared their secrets in a new seafood recipe book, called "100 Years of Recipes." Enjoy making Woodman’s signature seafood dishes for your own family.
Katlyn Graham: Hello. I am Katlyn Graham, here with Maureen Woodman, the director of sales at Woodman’s. Today, we are discussing a new cookbook that Woodman’s has just released. It’s called “Five Generations of Stories: 100 Years of Recipes.” Welcome, Maureen. Thanks for joining us today.
Maureen Woodman: Thanks, Katlyn. I am really excited about this. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time.
Katlyn: Why have a cookbook, Maureen?
Maureen: The cookbook started, I would say, probably three years ago, as we were getting ready to prepare for 100th anniversary at Woodman’s. Woodman’s opened in 1914. We decided that a cookbook would be this marketing piece that would stamp this hundredth anniversary.
Food is so big right now. Food shows are really big right now, food magazines, food articles, Pinterest and food, food, food, food, so we were like “Hey we got to have a cook book. I mean, we’ve been cooking for 100 years. Who knows better than we do?”
Katlyn Graham: Exactly. [laughs] Now, what did you end up with? What kind of cookbook?
Maureen: As the cookbook became, we signed a contract two years ago. A year and a half ago we hired a designer, we hired a writer. My sister‑in‑law, Rhonda Woodman, was put in charge of the actual project, gathering all the history, all the articles, all the photographs, and the cookbook really turned into a story book with 100 recipes.
We realized that there was just so much history to keep this 100 year perpetual motion restaurant going, that the stories, as the writer was working with us, he said, “You got to write this down. Nobody’s going to believe what you guys went through from 1914 to 2014.”
Katlyn: There are really special stories. I’m sure that he wanted to include. It’s more than just a cookbook. Maureen, walk us through this cookbook. Where does it start, and how does it proceed?
Maureen: The cookbook starts by introducing Chubby Woodman, and Bessie Woodman. They were married. It starts when they opened their store. They had what would be equated today to a little variety store, you know, a Seven Eleven, or Richdale’s. Imagine that’s what was going on in 1914 in this sleepy hollow of Essex, Massachusetts.
They sold some fish, they sold milk, they sold some vegetables, they sold some donuts. People would just go to this little local variety store. We start the book there. Of course, the biggest thing that happened, was 1916. Chubby and his little friend ‑‑ the fisherman threw the clam in the potato chips, and the next thing you know we had the invention of the fried clam.
That is really the biggest thing that happened then. As the cookbook goes on, it goes through the Depression. The cookbook goes through a couple wars. The cookbook goes through the ’50s. The heyday. They boom. The cookbook goes through the ’60s, when times were changing. The ’70s, when the hippies were all around, and food was popular. People were going to the beach all the time.
Remember where we are, we’re stuck right on this gorgeous location of Cape Anne, and we were right in the middle of Cranes and Wingaersheek, and people just had to go by us and get fried clams. In the ’80s it talks more about the big boom that came. Then ’95 when we started doing all this clambake catering. Giant parties.
We were doing parties for 500, 600 people. We did the All‑Star Game. It just talks about how money was really just flowing all over the place. The late ’90s, and right up until September 11, 2001. Parties were just going crazy, and then it kind of talks about economic recovery after 2001, really up to today.
Then along paralleling what was going on in the world, it talks about 90 to 100 of these Woodmans that actually are descendants from Chubby and Bessie, which is just an amazing, amazing story of many, many, really women, and men, but a lot of women. And what great cooks they were, and how food got them through these 10 decades.
Whenever something seemed to go wrong, they seemed to come up with food, which made them revenue, which made them keep their business, or help people that were struggling.
Katlyn Graham: And survive. They were able to survive through the food. What’s your favorite story in this book?
Maureen: There’s a lot of really good stories. The first, I would say 40 years. 1914 up to 1950, let’s say. There is some incredible entrepreneurial things that Chubby Woodman did, and his wife Bessie. There are just ways of survival ‑‑ I think that’s a great word to explain how he kept this going ‑‑ but there’s a great story that I think local people will not realize.
It’s when 128 was built, and how it stopped in Beverly. There were a lot of people that said, “This will be the end of Cape Ann.” Once the road goes to Gloucester, nobody’s going to stop in the middle.
What happened was they stopped building 128 for a while, and the only way to get to Cape Ann, was to take exit 20 ‑‑ if you’re familiar with Cape Ann at all ‑‑ and you had to drive through Essex to get to Manchester, Ipswich, and Gloucester. Here was Chubby listening to all the naysayers back then, and he was extending the parking lot, getting ready to make it bigger and better.
He was actually pushing back the marsh back then, making more and more parking spaces. Local people thought that he was absolutely crazy. The first day that 128 stopped, and everybody came down, there’s a great story in there. It talks about a five mile backup. Everyone coming from Beverly, through Essex, and Chubby put a sign out that said, “Park here. Trade where you may.”
He was a smart little man, then, because everyone parked in his parking lot. At that time there were three other restaurants, and little stores. There was the fishing going on. They all ended up walking right through Woodman’s, and he sold them fried clams. It’s just an amazing story of when everyone says, “No,” to you, and you say, “Yes,” to them.
There’s probably 10 or 15 stories in there that Chubby did, like many people of his time, because he was responsible to take care of 4 or 5 of his sisters. I don’t know how many sisters his wife had. I think there were nine of them. He had five children, and his children had a whole bunch of children. Chubby did whatever he had to do, but he did some really interesting things.
Katlyn: To support his family.
Maureen: To support his family.
Katlyn: Very inspiring. What’s your favorite recipe in the book?
Maureen: There is a great recipe. I think it’s called Patty’s Lobster Newburg. Patty is my husband’s eldest sister. She’s the first‑born of Dexter and Virginia. I think she is the third grandchild ‑‑ second or third grandchild of Chubby and Bessie. Patty is probably the best cook, I would say, in her generation. I think her sisters might differ with me.
Maureen: She was responsible for the function hall. She was one of the first ones to learn how to fry food. She was also a girl. Again, there are a lot of women in our book. Dexter and Ginny had three girls before they had their four boys, so girls really took on a big role before women were working in business.
This recipe is just so easy to make. Patty has made it a thousand times. She’s fed hundreds, and hundreds of people at our function hall. She puts a little twist on it, where it’s very simple that the average could make a very fancy dish. Again, lobster Newburg, a very popular recipe from the ’50s and the ’60s.
Not a lot of people make that at home, but Patty makes it really simple.
Katlyn: Mm, sounds good. Out of this whole book, Maureen, what are you most proud of? What makes you the happiest?
Maureen: I really think, to me, that right now there are five generations. We are anticipating the birth of the sixth generation, which is going to happen this year. In our anniversary year. The first G6er is going to be born. That the kids ‑‑ as I refer to them ‑‑ there’s 29, actually the 30th is also going to be born this year, in September.
That they will be able to have this book that validates and shows them how hard that people have worked, and how lucky they are to have this, but also the responsibility that comes with Woodman’s for them. That they will appreciate what the generations before them did for them. And that we hope that the generations now, and the generations to come will continue to keep that spirit up.
I’m proud that they have this book to go back on, when times get hard, and see just how hard times have been, and how other people could make it, and that they could make it also.
Katlyn: They can find strength through this book.
Katlyn: Where can we find this book? Where can I get it?
Maureen: Right now, the book’s only been out a little while. You can buy it on woodmans.com. You can go right into the shopping cart, and you can see that’s actually free shipping and handling. The book retails for $19.95. You can buy the book at the restaurant. We’re open every day but Thanksgiving or Christmas, at 11 o’clock.
We also have a retail store that opens Mother’s Day for this season and opens until Labor Day. The book will also be for sale there.
Katlyn Graham: Great. Thank you so much, Maureen, for joining us.
Katlyn: This seems like a wonderful book. I’m eager to check it out.
Maureen: Thanks, Katlyn.