Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Chef Mike Smith at Scales

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Mike Smith has been hired to lead the kitchen at Scales. Smith is a Culinary Institute of America graduate. He has spent six years in Boston working for Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette. Rising through the ranks of their restaurant group to serve as chef de cuisine at Toro. Smith returned to live in Maine last year.

Sam Hayward shared with me that he’s looking forward to working with Smith and to seeing his interpretation of the vision for Scales. The 100+ seat waterfront seafood restaurant being developed by Dana Street and Sam Hayward. It’s currently under construction on the Maine Wharf off of Commercial Street, and is  set to open in 2016.

Ben Alfiero, 59

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

benalfieroBen Alfiero, co-owner of Harbor Fish Market, passed away earlier this week at the age of 59.

Alfiero and his brothers, Nick Alfiero and Mike Alfiero, have been involved in the operation of the Harbor Fish Market since their father Ben Alfiero Sr. founded the business in 1969.

For years, Benjamin A. Alfiero ran the retail store for Harbor Fish Market, which is located at 9 Custom House Wharf on the city’s waterfront.

For more information and public comment see this facebook post by Harbor Fish.

Interview with Damian Sansonetti

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

The Portland Phoenix has interviewed Damian Sansonetti, co-owner/chef of Piccolo.

CP: Why did you and Ilma move to Portland?
DS: We knew NYC wasn’t going to be for us in the long run even though we accomplished so much while there. We wanted a family and our own place. We traveled to other cities and couldn’t find a place we both felt good in, and then our friend Rod Mitchell who owns Browne Trading in Portland, kept asking me to visit Maine. So we did, and the first night we hit up four places to eat and found ourselves coming back four more times in six months and fell in love with the place and the people.

Sansonetti and his wife Ilma Lopez will be the featured chefs for a dinner at the Beard House in New York City this weekend.

Andrew Regios, 58

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Andrew Regios, co-owner of Pizza Villa, passed away on November 11.

“He always had a compliment for you,” his sister-in-law said. “Someone referred to him as a sweet, zany Greek boy. He was very joyful, but he was also a prankster. He loved to make up jokes. He could be really corny. He had a sweet, fun and youthful side to him.”

See the obituary for details on today’s memorial service.

Interview with Rivalries’ Lance Meader

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

The Portland Phoenix has published an interview with Lance Meader, owner of Rivalries.

LO: Why did you decide to open a sports bar?
LM: I come from a sports background and a sports family. My dad’s been a college basketball coach for 40 years, and was a college baseball coach for 20 years. I was an athlete in college and I originally had a business partner who I bought out six or seven years ago — Jeff Libby — who was a former professional hockey player. We grew up together and were both living in Portland at the time … we were in our 20s at the time and going out and there wasn’t really a (sports) place to go. We just thought that no one else is going to do it, we might as well do it.

Interview with Chris Gould

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Plate has published an interview with Chris Gould, chef and co-owner of Central Provisions.

What meal changed how you feel about food?
I used to ski race, when I was in high school. I was competing in Megeve, France, and we were allowed to go out to dinner one night on our own. I decided I wanted to have a nice dinner. We had chicken liver mousse, and all these things that I had never had, but were incredible. Food was completely different than what I ever thought it was. Another night, while staying at a hostel, the lady who ran it made this veal blanquette, and it was the best thing I had ever eaten. So I stopped skiing and started cooking. I would also bake with my mom and grandmother. This was before cooking was cool, and people were like, ‘why would you do it?’ Now cooking is cool, and nobody wants to work.

Jeremy Bloom, Internet Farmer

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published an article about Jeremy Bloom, Internet Farmer.

Jeremy Bloom is an Internet farmer. Presumably you don’t know what that means. We didn’t either, so we called him up to ask. It turns out he’s a very diversified “farmer,” with his finger in many pies, including software development, urban agriculture, teaching fermentation classes and marketing restaurants.

Lobster Chef of the Year: Matt Ginn of Evo

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Congratulations to chef Matt Ginn at Evo. Ginn won the Lobster competition yesterday at Harvest on the Harbor for his dish of Maine Lobster with Turkish Pasta and Local Beans.

For additional information, see these reports from the Bangor Daily News and the Press Herald.

Heirloom Apple Tasting, Boda Interview, Notes from a Server

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

This week’s Portland Phoenix includes a report on the heirloom apple tasting that I put together with friends Sean Turley and Cecilia Ziko,

Anestes and Sean kicked off the tasting with a quick talk on what the tasting would look like, how the apples were selected and some anecdotal back stories. A beautiful grid of all 85 apples was displayed on a table, and tasting sheets were supplied. Imagine, these apples were a small sample of the many, many varieties growing throughout New England…

an interview with Boda’s manager Jeremy Sossei,

Lily O’Gara: How did you first get started in the restaurant industry, and what made you stay?
Jeremy Sossei: I started out doing cafe and coffee shop work in college about 14 years ago and transitioned into exclusively restaurant work about eight years ago. … My very first cafe job was procured mainly due to a need for gainful employment. However, I soon realized that I really not only enjoyed (it), but thrived in that environment. The fast-paced, near chaos becomes almost intoxicating. … And then the feeling of closing up after an especially busy shift is completely rewarding for me. That beer when you’re done is pretty great, too!

and observations by food writer and server Lily O’Gara on working in the restaurant business.

2. I’ve met the most amazing people, even during my short time in the business. Servers who are students, parents, spouses, college graduates, aspiring artists … in other words, people who amount to so much more than simply running food and bussing tables (things which are also important, of course). I’m learning to apply this understanding elsewhere, and I have a newfound respect for others who, like me, may not be working their dream jobs (yet!) but who are making it all work, and doing so with a smile.

Chefs After Dark

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Today’s Press Herald features an article about the Chefs After Dark monthly gatherings among chefs in Southern Maine and New Hampshire for social networking and good natured competition.

The format of the monthly get-togethers mimics The Food Network’s “Chopped,” where chefs, two in this case versus the reality show’s four, who are well-matched in experience and cooking styles, are pitted against each other and several mystery ingredients. Local suppliers donate the often exotic ingredients, such as chicken feet, curry leaves and bitter cucumber (December 2014 when Franke and Vargas squared off); or cod roe sack, sunflower buds and lamb sweetbreads (August 2015); or blue Hubbard squash, local apples and tripe (late last month).

Leigh Kellis from Holy Donut

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

MaineBiz has published an article about Leigh Kellis and her company The Holy Donut.

But creating a decadent but wholesome treat “was like a mission from God,” she says. “I love doughnuts and the idea of bringing it to Portland was exciting.”

Once she hit on a winning potato-based recipe, she brought six doughnuts to Coffee By Design’s Washington Avenue store to see if they’d sell. They did and she brought back a dozen the next day. Soon she got orders from Whole Foods Market and Lois’ Natural Marketplace and rented commercial kitchen space. Forty dozen doughnuts a week became 100 dozen. After eight months, she was yearning for a doughnut shop of her own.

Rwandan Bean Co.

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Today’s Press Herald includes an article about the Rwandan Bean Company in Portland.

Mwenedata, 30, and Mazuroski, 28, are the founders of the year-old Rwanda Bean Co., a coffee bean wholesaler. They’re also philanthropists. Or at least that’s the plan.

By buying coffee beans directly from a farmer’s cooperative in the western Rwandan province of Karora, they cut out the middleman coffee broker and pay the farmers more. But their commitment to giving back doesn’t stop there.

You can learn more about Rwanda Bean on their website

Interviews: Great Lost Bear & Lauren Fensterstock

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

The Portland Phoenix has published an interview with Dave Evans and Chris Milligan from The Great Lost Bear.

LO: You said earlier that you weren’t originally a beer destination. What changed?
DE: After Geary’s opened, we had about six or seven taps. Then Shipyard opened, and then Gritty’s. So those are the beginning three. … It just became addictive. We started like 24, 36, 50 … we’re up to 78 and we’re flirting with 82. We have five taps of just Allagash (aptly nicknamed Allagash Alley). At one time, we were top 10 in the United States but then everyone got on the bandwagon. Our big thing is that we have over 45 beers brewed in Maine. That’s what I’m proud of.

This week’s Phoenix also includes a report on the Inside, Outside, Above, Below immersive food/theater event that took place recently on Thompson’s Point, and interview with co-creator Lauren Fensterstock.

You never know if a meal is going to make your “top five” list, and this one surpassed all expectations. I hesitate to call what I experienced “dinner theatre”; that conjures up memories of bad theatre in the ’80s. On the other hand, it was by all counts theatrical.

Ed Lutjens, Cooper

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Today’s Sunday Telegram includes an interesting article about Ed Lutjens and his path to become a modern day cooper.

Ed Lutjens is a cooper. Yeah, we didn’t know what that was either, although at one time, Maine was full of them. This is the technical name for the people who make wooden barrels wrapped in metal bands, the kind fine whiskey is aged in. The kind that fall off the back of stagecoaches in old Westerns. Read on to learn how Lutjens teamed up with Maine Craft Distilling, took a trip to The Bourbon Trail and carved – sorry, irresistible – himself a niche market in one of the sustainable world’s more indulgent products.

For more information visit

Interview with Olive Cafe

Friday, September 25th, 2015

The Portland Phoenix has published an interview with Olive Cafe owner Rayan Elkhatib.

How did you first get into the restaurant business?
I’ve been in the industry since I was 15 years old. My parents kind of planted the seed. They both had little cafes like this (in Florida) and I always worked with them. My mom taught me the cooking part of the industry and my dad pretty much showed me the business side. It caught on, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Before I came here, I was the assistant manager for a really nice restaurant in Del Ray Beach called City Oyster. I was well-rounded, I had all the experience and it was time for me to open my own shop and see what I could do with it.