Il Leone

Colby College has published an article about alum Ben Wexler and his Peaks pizza business Il Leone.

Step off the ferry onto an island with pristine sandy beaches, cliffside bed-and-breakfasts, and a destination-worthy wood-fired pizza oven. This isn’t a place on the Italian Riviera. It’s a small, 740-acre island called Peaks Island, part of the city of Portland, Maine.

SMCC Culinary School

This week’s Portland Phoenix includes an article about the SMCC culinary school.

Their instructor, chef Bo Byrne, explains why he has 50 pounds of chicken bones in a pot in the back corner of the kitchen (for 20 gallons of chicken stock) to be mixed into the pot of beans he also has going for a traditional French cassoulet.

Near the conclusion of their two-year education at the South Portland bayside college, these young professionals are on a new, nuanced track into the hospitality industry.

Visit the SMCC site for more information about the SMCC Culinary Arts Program.

30 Years of Fresh Approach

Mainer has published an article about the Fresh Approach Market.

During its first week, in February of 1992, the fledgling family business also got a boost from an unexpected source: Portland’s restaurant industry. Steve Harris, the legendary proprietor of Ruski’s Tavern, on the West End, and Rosie’s, the Old Port pub on Fore Street, walked into Fresh Approach just days after they’d opened and placed meat orders for both establishments. Harris, who passed away in 2009, was also the head of the local restaurant association, and by the end of the week Fresh Approach had eight or nine restaurant accounts. 

Falafel Time on Forest Ave

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about the new Forest Ave restaurant Falafel Time and its owner Qutaiba Hassoon and the growing restaurant community along Forest Ave.

To observe the operations at Falafel Time feels like a trip into their family’s kitchen. Hassoon’s mother, Anaam Jabbir, helps run the operation with Hassoon and Saeed. Other family members are among the employees, and they speak mainly in Arabic, working quickly to fill orders.

“I’m proud of him,” Saeed said of his son moments after tossing a pizza in the oven. “He’s always worked under someone and now he’s in charge. Owning a restaurant is hard work, but he’s good at customer service and wants to take care of the customers.”

Little Woodfords & BenReuben’s

BenReuben’s Knishery was recently featured in an article published by Beyondish,

Graeme shucked oysters at Big Tree Hospitality’s Eventide Oyster Bar in Portland and eventually became the chef de cuisine there and later the purchasing and distribution manager. Caitlin worked in the front of house and became the company’s HR director in 2016. Though they were surrounded by shellfish, the couple always dreamed of opening a Jewish deli.

Little Woodfords was featured in an article in Salon,

Little Woodfords opens everyday at 7 a.m. and closes at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. They don’t serve alcohol, but, as Zarro puts it, customers can have all the caffeine and housemade ice cream sandwiches they want. “When people think of gay spaces or queer spaces, they immediately think of a nightclub or bar — maybe a little hole in the wall,” he said. “They don’t necessarily think a bright coffee shop, but we’re happy to change that.”

Bresca and the Honey Bee

The Washington Post has published an article about Bresca and the Honey Bee and its owner Krista Kern Desjarlais.

Kern Desjarlais never stops experimenting. Her latest creation: artichoke ice cream. Basing her technique on a French recipe that dates back to 1825, she poaches fresh artichoke hearts in a sugar syrup with vanilla, and orange and lemon zest, then purees the mixture and folds it into a sweet cream base. After the ice cream is done, she tops it with candied grapefruit and toasted pistachio. This recipe seems to meld her interest in history, food and creating flavors that few have tasted before.

Eater: Preble Street’s Food Program

Eater has published an in depth look at the Preble Street food program and the many challenges it’s navigated during the pandemic.

But on March 25 last year, for the first time in its history, Preble Street closed its dining room. Suddenly, the delicate web of social services that Portland’s unhoused community relied on to meet basic needs, a system largely concentrated in Preble’s Bayside neighborhood, began to unravel. This unravelling, which led to a forced dispersal of the city’s homeless population, brought into stark relief the conflicting imperatives of public health, public safety, and emergency services brought on by the pandemic. It became clear that if Preble Street was going to keep feeding people, the model — and maybe even the organization’s entire mission — would need to be rethought.

The article was written by Christian Letourneau with photography by Greta Rybus as part of a collaboration between Eater and the Food & Environment Reporting Network.

For more information on the Preble Street visit www.preblestreet.org.

Interview with Bluet Winery

American Fizz has published an interview with Coco O’Neil and Ed Lutgens from Bluet Winery. Bluet is a Maine business that makes wine from wild Maine blueberries.

The Bluet winery is in a warehouse in Scarborough just out of town, and immediately gives you the sense that something interesting is happening here. Originally located in an 1820s barn in Jefferson, Maine, Bluet needed a bit more of a temperature-friendly location for their fermentations—too cold in those old Maine wooden barns. I was welcomed by Coco O’Neill, the sales lead for Bluet, and Ed Lutjens, assistant winemaker and sometimes-cooper for the winery. We talked about the inherent nature of blueberries, supporting the local Maine agriculture community, and the joys and hardships of making fruit wine.