(Belfast, ME) On Tuesday, May 9, at 7:00 pm Erin French, founder and owner of the acclaimed restaurant The Lost Kitchen in Freedom (Waldo County), will celebrate the release of her first cookbook, The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine. She will give a talk and sign copies of her new book (which will be released that day) at Left Bank Books in downtown Belfast.

Advance praise for The Lost Kitchen includes this review from Dana Cowin, former editor of Food & Wine magazine, and now chief creative officer with Chefs Club International: “One of the most magical experiences of my life was eating at. . .The Lost Kitchen, a magnificent restaurant-in-a-mill. The food was deeply personal, local, and delicious. I am filled with joy at the prospect of re-creating some of the dishes at home from the recipes in this gorgeous cookbook.”

French’s Recipes Highlight the Seasons

The Lost Kitchen reflects French’s emphasis on seasonal, and local, foods. She writes that one of the biggest reasons she loves Maine is because “it possesses four distinct seasons, defined by their climate, ingredient, and landscape changes.” Her evocative, gorgeous cookbook includes 100 recipes, arranged by those seasons. Highlight recipes include:

  • Spring: Spring Bread Salad with Asparagus, Radishes, Peas and Mint; Ramp and Fiddlehead Fried Rice; Chamomile Crème Brulee
  • Summer: Fried Squash Blossoms; Cornflake Fried Chicken; Peach and Ginger Cobbler
  • Cocktail Break: Rhubarb Gin Fizz; Blackberry Basil Mojito; Spicy Cider and Cilantro Margarita
  • Fall: Roasted Butternut Squash Cups with Apple Slaw; Apple Cider Doughnuts; Caramelized Pear and Cornmeal Skillet Cake
  • Winter: Warm Olive and Anchovy Dip; Dad’s Meatloaf with Parsnip Puree and Root Cellar Slaw; Chocolate Tart with Chocolate Wafer Crust

The Genesis of The Lost Kitchen

French opens her book with a very personal introduction that traces her childhood in Freedom, the early days of her culinary career that started with informal “Secret Suppers” served in her downtown Belfast apartment in 2010, and the devastating series of personal tragedies and losses that followed before she found herself back home in Freedom. There, she writes, she found herself and a home for the born-again Lost Kitchen in the village’s 1834 restored gristmill:

“When I walked into the empty space, floor covered in sawdust, I knew this would be next. . . .Now the mill stands strong and proud, part of the National Historic Register. It serves as a symbol of old ways found relevant once again. And at its heart is my restaurant, The Lost Kitchen, finally found, in Freedom.”

Now in its fourth season, The Lost Kitchen is open from May through New Year’s Eve. Each year when the reservation line opens, the restaurant is booked for year within hours. Patrons drive for hours to experience French’s food and the mill’s warm ambiance. The restaurant has received accolades and awards from throughout the culinary world.

French is an entirely self-taught cook (she does not like to refer to herself as a chef) who read cookbooks to form her culinary education. And, as she writes in The Lost Kitchen, “Growing up in rural Maine, I came to understand the value of a home-cooked meal, the joy of gathering around a supper table, and the importance of timeless dishes that form the fabric and culture of this place.” Both her restaurant and her cookbook reflect those values.

Event Information

Reservations are strongly encouraged for this free event. Call 207-338-9009 or email [email protected]  to reserve seats, which are limited. Left Bank Books is located in the historic Opera House block at 109 Church Street (across from the police station), in downtown Belfast. Ample on-street parking is available in front of the shop and in an adjacent parking lot.

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