Archive for the ‘People’ Category

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 rwandabean.com.

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 www.edlutjens.com.

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.

Vivian’s Drive-In

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

The Press Herald reports that Vivian’s Drive-In on Forest Ave is changing hands.

After 21 years of running one of Portland’s most beloved, and cheapest, burger joints, Donna Morgan is selling Vivian’s Drive-In. But despite rumors that the Forest Avenue business might be closing, Morgan said it isn’t going anywhere.

Vivian’s was founded in 1952 by Vivian L. Vintinner. Vintinner sold it in 1964 to Joyce Perry who then sold it to Donna Morgan in 1995.

Interview with Arlin Smith

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

The Portland Phoenix has published an interview with Hugo’s co-owner Arlin Smith.

LO: What do you think the secret is to excellent service?
AS: One thing that I try to push … is the difference between hospitality and serving. Anyone can be a server. You don’t have to have a voice, you just have to have feet and hands and be able to take food from one place to another. Hospitality is going above and beyond, to guide a person, to be generous, to anticipate their needs before they even know that they need them. That’s what separates just serving people and really taking care of people. This is one of the most unique dining experiences in New England, never mind in Portland. It’s not for everyone — you have to come here not just to get sustenance, you have to come here to have an experience, to allow us to take care of you. If you want to go out and be taken care of, I don’t know many places that do it better than here.

Maine Heirloom Apples

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

appletastingThe Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald reports on the growing interest in heirloom apples.

Bendzela and Essman are among a growing number of Mainers who have developed an appreciation for heirloom varieties of apples that for the most part disappeared with the rise of big agriculture. They have replanted varieties that were originally grown on the farm and added more that were once popular in Maine – apples with different textures, unusual tastes and whimsical names, such as King of Tompkins County, Fallawater, Esopus Spitzenburg (a favorite of Thomas Jefferson) and Hubbardston’s Nonesuch.

The paper also has an article on vegetarian chef and Maine-native Matthew Kenney.

Matthew Kenney’s restaurants and books are a force in the plant-based food world, but his biggest influence may be in the new chefs he teaches.

Interview with Joe Catoggio

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The Portland Phoenix has published an interview with Joe Catoggio, co-owner with his wife Diane of the Bayside American Cafe.

LO: Can you tell me a little bit about the menu?
JC: We inherited a brunch menu. As I said, he’d [Roger Bintliff] been winning “Best Brunch” quite often. We largely stayed with that same theme. We just tried to refine it a little bit, change it up about 15-20 percent every year … bring in some new items, lose some items. We’ve downsized the menu a bit so we could focus more on specials. The Louisiana Bayou Benedict (grilled andouille sausage, homemade corncakes, two poached eggs and spicy Cajun hollandaise sauce) was a special that we created for a benefit for Hurricane Katrina. It became a menu item directly after that because it was just so popular. It’s one of our biggest sellers. … We’re very well known for our corned beef hash. We created a special last summer, which was a cinnamon bun pancake, and that’s taken off unbelievably.

Paul Trusiani, 81 (Updated)

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Paul Trusiani (article, obituary) passed away Saturday at the age of 81. Trusiani founded Paul’s Food Center on Congress Street in 1975.

In his early years, Trusiani worked for Hannaford Brothers Co. as a buyer, retail counselor and head of procurement. He went on to work as vice president and general manager of Martin’s Foods before deciding to establish his own company, Paul’s Food Center. He operated the business with his former wife, Annamarie Ross Trusiani. The partners have 12 to 15 full and part-time employees.

Their son, Jim Trusiani, said the family has no plans to sell or close the business.

“The family’s intent is to continue to run the store the way Dad did,” his son said.

Update: For additional information see this article from the Portland Phoenix.

Restaurants You May Have Missed

Friday, September 4th, 2015

dispatch_ricchioJoe Ricchio has written an article for Dispatch magazine (page 40) listing the 20 or so restaurants he misses the most from the late 90s and early part of this century.

Mentioned in the article are Fresh Market Pasta, Mazza, Bandol, Haggarty’s, Go-Go Burger, Una, Perfetto, Village Cafe, Hu Shang, Carbur’s, Michaela’s, Ladle, Bodega Latina, G’Vanni’s, Portland Public Market, The Roma, Aubergine, Honey’s, Crab Louie, and Ruby’s Choice.

That era overlaps with when I first moved to the city, so many happy food memories….

The new issue of Dispatch also contains an interview with Alice Van de Water, bartender at Rosie’s (page 44).

Porthole Interview & Cheap Eats Guide

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

This week’s Portland Phoenix includes an interview with the head chef and owner of The Porthole,

LO: Can you tell me a little bit about the menu?
LC: I’d say that breakfast and lunch is basically “dinerific” sort of food, like high-end sort of diner. We have lobster pancakes … you know, it’s a nicer sort of breakfast for a cheaper price. (For dinner) we use fresh, local seafood. I buy my seafood from Harbor Fish, and we buy our lobsters here on the wharf so it’s very convenient and fresh. They’re in the ocean hours before you’re eating them.

and their annual student guide to cheap eats.

It’s no secret that college students are usually scraping by financially; just look online at the poor college student memes and Tumblr posts and you’ll get the idea. Higher education is expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should sit in your dorm room and eat Ramen every night. With the budget-friendly dining options below, you can afford to hit the town and still have enough money to do laundry.

Interview with Rob Tod

Friday, August 21st, 2015

The Press Herald has published an interview with Rob Tod, owner of Allagash.

Q: What attracted you to beer brewing?
A:
It combined everything I loved. It had a bit of science, biology and chemical reactions and it had a big creative component with recipe-writing and a mechanical component with pipes and wiring and valves. It wrapped up everything I loved in one nice package and on top of it all, it was beer.

Abilene Interview and Menu

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

The Portland Phoenix has published an interview with Travis Colgan and Anna Connolly, the owners of Abilene in Woodfords Corner, and a tasting report on their menu.

I began with Anna’s favorite dish on the menu, an appetizer called Manchego Toast, which consists of homemade focaccia bread, doughy and warm, topped with melted Manchego (a Spanish cheese), garlic, shallots and fresh mushrooms, over a sherry and mushroom broth. The bread soaks up the broth, and you can dip the toast in as well. However you choose to eat it, it’s rich, hearty and satisfying. Anna mentioned that, as she and Travis were drawing up the menu, this was the first item they knew they had to include. The dish, she said, evolved from working with a Spanish chef in a restaurant down in New Orleans.