Carolie “Cal” Hancock ’69
What is better than receiving a gift from ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things 2018’ this holiday season? Being listed on ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things 2018’, of course! Carolie “Cal” Hancock ’69, founder and president of Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company, was featured on the famed list in the December issue of The Oprah Magazine for her renowned lobster truffle mac and cheese. She says, “This special list is the ultimate catalog of Oprah’s favorite things and we are more than delighted to be included.”
This is not the first time Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company has been featured on an Oprah list. In fact, the specialty food business has been featured six times previously for other delectable lobster dishes. The company has also won several other prestigious awards throughout the years including eleven gold and fifteen silver sofi™ Awards from the Specialty Food Association at the annual Fancy Food Shows and a gold medal at the first annual Gallo Family Vineyards Gold Medal Awards. The company also won a lobster mac and cheese Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network.
So, what is all the hoopla about? It is about a company that specializes in creating gourmet, all-natural Maine lobster and seafood products that are delicious. Their offerings include an array of entrees, appetizers, soups, stews and desserts. Their most popular dish? The lobster mac and cheese. As with many of her lobster and seafood specialties, it was inspired by old family recipes.
Born to Frank and Kay Hancock, Cal spent her childhood in Maine and was very close to both of her grandmothers. Her maternal grandmother was a great cook and taught Cal the basics of the art of cooking. Her paternal grandmother (known as Nana) started a lobster restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine in 1946. Cal explains, “My grandfather bought the restaurant without her knowledge and presented it to her as a gift. He died of a heart attack before they could open it. She opened the restaurant and ran it with the help of her siblings, children and grandchildren for over 25 years. My parents worked there, and I worked there as a kid and then as a paid employee starting at age 14. My Nana taught me hard work and respect for all.”
Cal came to Colby Junior College in 1966. Although the college was primarily a junior college at the time, Cal was enrolled in a baccalaureate program and received a B.S. in health information management in 1970. After graduation, Cal spent many years working as a senior executive in several medical information management companies where she focused on customer service and quality control. Wanting to get back to her Maine roots, Cal eventually ventured back to Maine and created the Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company in December of 2000. At the time, Cal created a mission statement that still holds true today – to bring great Maine lobster to customers around the country using long held family recipes that combine ease of preparation with the highest standards of quality and customer service.
Today, Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company has 20 full-time and several part-time employees that introduce one or two new products a year. Cal says that she loves making great products that people love. When asked if she has a favorite dish that the company offers, Cal says, “They are all my children, so I don’t have a favorite, although I love a good lobster roll.”
Congratulations, Cal, on your most recent recognition!