Meet a Maine man who can shuck 1,000 pounds of lobsters in a day

This man looks friendly, but lobsters should beware. He’s a trained killer. He thinks nothing of dropping them into boiling seawater by the bucketful. Not only that, he can turn a steaming, red-shelled carcass into a mound of mouthwatering meat in just a few seconds.

That’s bad for lobsters, but oh, so tasty for the rest of us.

Steve Cymbrak, 69, started shucking lobsters at The Clam Shack in Kennebunk 26 summers ago. Since then, with help from his disassembly line team, he’s dismembered something like a million pounds of lobster.

The Clam Shack sits right on the bridge separating Kennebunk from Kennebunkport. It first opened in 1932 and the current iteration has been serving takeout sea vittles since 1968. Cymbrak started shucking in 1991 and came with the business when the current owners bought the place in 2000.

Mike Cymbrak, 69, shucks lobsters at The Clam Shack in Kennebunk on Tuesday. He's been shucking there for 26 years. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

Mike Cymbrak, 69, shucks lobsters at The Clam Shack in Kennebunk on Tuesday. He’s been shucking there for 26 years. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

Cymbrak,a retired French teacher who spent 38 years at Biddeford High School, said he sneaks a bit of lobster every day. He never gets tired of eating it.

Cyrmbrak used to shuck solo, but now he has a trained team of helpers. Once the lobsters are boiled and dumped into a sink, they go to work. Moving with deft hands, Cymbrak breaks off the tail and claws and discards the bodies. A helper then sets to work on the claw knuckles with a pair of scissors. Cymbrak pries the tails open with his hands. The same goes for the claws.

On Tuesday, he and assistant Niko Goranov shucked 100 pounds in about 15 minutes — and that was while talking to a reporter.

Mike Cymbrak, 69, has been shucking lobsters at The Clam Shack in Kennebunk for 26 years. The eatery opened in 1932. In July and August, Cymbrak and his team shuck between 5,000 and 7,000 pounds of lobster a day. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

Mike Cymbrak, 69, has been shucking lobsters at The Clam Shack in Kennebunk for 26 years. The eatery opened in 1932. In July and August, Cymbrak and his team shuck between 800 and 1,200 pounds of lobster a day. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

You might think, after shucking crustaceans all these years, Cymbrak would be ready to call it quits. You’d be wrong, though.

“I go from year to year,” he said. “I think I probably have a few more left in me.”

You hear that, lobsters? You’ve been warned.

The Clam Shack in Kennebunk serves whole pieces of claw and tail meat in its lobster roll. You can have your choice of butter, mayo or both to top it off. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

The Clam Shack in Kennebunk serves whole pieces of claw and tail meat in its lobster roll. You can have your choice of butter, mayo or both to top it off. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.