Jennifer Lakari, 50

Sommelier Jennifer Lakari passed away recently after a long battle with cancer.

Jen graduated from the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University In 1997, and in 2008, Jen became a certified sommelier. Food and wine became one of her passions, and among the many food venues she worked in were Fore Street, Grace, Purpoodock Club, Browne Trading, and Bow Street Beverage. When she opened Flock and Vine Bike and Beverage in Cape Elizabeth and, later, in South Portland, Jen taught others about wine, often hosting lively wine tastings and seminars.

A celebration of her life is scheduled to take place June 19th, 6 – 8 pm at Grace, 15 Chestnut St, Portland.

Southern Smoke Foundation Mental Health Program

The Southern Smoke Foundation (SSF) has announced they’ll be partnering with the University of Maine to pilot their mental health program for food and beverage workers in Maine this summer. The program is called Behind You.

SSF is providing a grant to University of Maine’s Psychology Services Center to provide no-cost counseling to F+B workers across Maine through the Behind You program. A Behind You grant covers the cost of counseling for F+B workers who qualify through the SSF website and allows student clinicians to diversify their training by seeing a community of seasoned F+B workers with various backgrounds. A licensed clinical supervisor and the university program director supervise all student clinicians. In addition, SSF requires university partners to provide telehealth services to increase accessibility for workers with demanding schedules or living in rural areas with limited access to in-person services. The initial grant will be for a pilot program with hopes of expanding services in 2025.

SSF credits Jordan Rubin—co-owner of Mr. Tuna, Bar Futo and Crispy Gai—with advocating to SSF to bring Behind You to Maine.

“I’ve gotten the chance to work alongside the team at Southern Smoke Foundation for a few years now – whether that’s cooking at their annual Southern Smoke Festival in Houston, TX, or connecting my staff and friends in the industry with them to apply for Emergency Relief Funding,” said chef Jordan Rubin. “The fact that the Behind You program will now also be available to my team and other food and beverage workers across Maine to receive free counseling if they’re interested makes me so happy.”

Here’s a link to the full press release from SSF. The Southern Smoke Foundation also offers an Emergency Relief program for food and beverage workers.

Interview with Danielle Camarata

Mainebiz has published an interview with Danielle Camarata, an owner of B + B Bakery. The business recently moved to Cape Elizabeth from Fore Street in Portland.

MB: Why Cape Elizabeth?
DC: Our Portland location was good for visibility, but we didn’t have great parking for pick-ups and looked around at what our options were for moving. We knew our lease was coming up there, so we opted for Cape Elizabeth for the convenience. It’s still close enough to Portland, and there’s great parking and it’s convenient for employees. We live in Cape Elizabeth, too.

Michael Bergin at the Black Point Inn

Mainebiz has published a profile of Michael Bergin, the new executive chef at the Black Point Inn.

After honing his culinary skills at Johnson & Wales University, Bergin moved to Washington, D.C., to cook at Kafe Leopold. In 2007, he was named executive sous chef at Sel de la Terre in Boston, followed by a post there as sous chef of L’Espalier — both famed, old-school French restaurants that have since closed.

Review of Thistle & Grouse

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a review of Thistle & Grouse.

The duo’s menu is not Scottish pub food, as the name might imply, but New American, with a farm-to-table bent. Highlights include chicken-fried mushrooms on a golden brown Maine Grains cornmeal waffle, nutty ube cheesecake with lime curd, and a terrific lobster carbonara featuring homemade gnocchetti sardi pasta.

Today’s paper also includes an article about Maine native Justin Terry who runs a Japanese restaurant in Paris, and an article about teenager Pi Crosby and the community potluck event he launched on Peaks Island.

Edible Maine: Spring 2024

The Spring 2024 edition of Edible Maine is now available.

This issue includes articles about:

Portland Wine Week

Mainebiz has published an interview with Erica Archer about her company Wine Wise and her leadership of Portland Wine Week.

By definition, Portland Wine Week showcases the extensive wine offerings Maine establishments have to offer through engaging tasting events, wine classes and seminars, wine sails, and intimate dinner events at award-winning local restaurants. In reality it is a celebration of the people in our community. It’s your friends and my friends — it’s the Portland restaurant and wine industry coming together and doing what it does best.