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LISTEN: How The Lost Kitchen’s Star Chef Is 'Finding Freedom' After Hitting Rock Bottom

Nicole Franzen
Erin French (third from left), chef of The Lost Kitchen, is pictured with other restaurant staff.

In the rural town of Freedom, Maine -- population 700 -- there’s the renowned restaurant The Lost Kitchen. It’s the brainchild of owner and chef Erin French and the crew of women who work with her. During normal times, the restaurant is fully booked for the season -- months in advance. The New York Times has written about it. So has Martha Stewart Living. And The Magnolia Network has a TV series about how the business transitioned during the pandemic.

In her new memoir, “Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story: Remaking A Life From Scratch,” French documents her tumultuous path growing up in Freedom, frying clam baskets at her father’s diner and ultimately starting her own restaurant that has become a famous destination.

Along the way, French said she lost her first restaurant, her home, her marriage and -- temporarily -- custody of her child. But from there, she built herself back up with food and cooking as a guiding light.

“I felt comfortable in the kitchen, and to feel comfortable in a place when my world felt so uncomfortable was a place I wanted to keep returning to,” French told NEXT.

This interview was featured in a recent episode of NEXT from the New England News Collaborative. Listen to the entire episode here.

Morgan Springer is the host/producer for the weekly show NEXT and the New England News Collaborative, a ten-station consortium of public radio newsrooms. She joined WNPR in 2019. Before working at Connecticut Public Radio, Morgan was the news director at Interlochen Public Radio in northern Michigan, where she launched and co-hosted a weekly show Points North.
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