Dinner in Maine? Why Not?

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lost kitchen reservations
Photo from The Lost Kitchen reservations page.

I recently stumbled across a TV show called “The Lost Kitchen” on Magnolia Network. (That’s the cable network started by Chip and Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” fame.) It’s a documentary-style series about a seriously farm-to-fork restaurant (also called The Lost Kitchen) in the tiny town of Freedom, Maine. The restaurant’s owner, Erin French, is a self-taught chef who grew up in Freedom working at her dad’s diner and who sources ingredients from nearby farms, fields, woods and waters. The restaurant is open for only a few months every summer, and getting a reservation is crazily difficult. A few years ago, French created a reservation-by-lottery system, requiring would-be diners to send their request by postcard in the hopes that Freedom’s tiny post office, which was threatened with closure, would benefit. Now, 22,000 postcards a year pour into Freedom from all over the country. French and her all-female staff select postcards at random to decide who gets to dine at the restaurant.

Erin French
The Lost Kitchen Chef Erin French (PRNewsFoto/The Lost Kitchen)

This year, French decided to give the postcard system a little tweak: Before you can send in a postcard, you have to make a donation to PFAS Emergency Relief Fund, which helps Maine farmers whose fields have been harmed by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” Once you make a donation, you’ll receive instructions for submitting a request by postcard for a dinner reservation. You’ll also be entered into a drawing to win dinner for two and a two-night stay in one of the cabins on the property at The Lost Kitchen.

I know Maine is a loooong way from Sacramento, but I’ve already made my donation and sent in my postcard. If you’re interested in doing the same, go here.

lost kitchen
The Lost Kitchen at The Mill at Freedom Falls (PRNewsFoto/The Lost Kitchen)

I also encourage you to check out French’s TV show, her cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine” and her gripping memoir, “Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story,” in which she writes about her unconventional route to culinary stardom. Part “Wild,” part “Eat, Pray, Love,” the book is going to be made into a movie by a major Hollywood producer.