Finding Freedom in the Lost Kitchen, Maine, Freedom An acclaimed Maine chef writes about a life of dizzying highs and dreadful lows

You wanted to go somewhere else and do something else with your life. Specifically, you wanted to be a doctor and you went to college in boston with the idea of becoming a doctor and then that dream was dashed. What happened? I got to boston and um ended up becoming unexpectedly pregnant with my son and that sort of changed everything. I was 21 years old and thought i had my my big life dreams in front of me and was chasing them pretty hard, but sometimes life has that way of sending you in other directions. You came back to maine. You got married. You were raising your son, you actually started a restaurant in belfast. You were miserable in your marriage. The work at the restaurant was exhausting. You started to drink heavily and started to take prescription pills. Where did that lead uh? It was a downward spiral. Those pills turned into other issues and i ended up getting to a point where i could not. I could not go along. I could not go on any any further. I knew that i wouldn’t survive another season, so i i went to rehab to work on my prescription drugs and get clean of those addictions and turn my life around and start all over again, you went to rehab out of state. What did you do on the plane ride on the way to rehab had a couple of cocktails? That kind of kept me going got me through the front door until it became that very sobering moment of uh, where i was and where, where i had, where i had landed and the hard work ahead of me, people who know your story from the lost kitchen Will think that the gods have always smiled on you that you have just been blessed by success, but at this point in your life, in the story you tell in the book we go into some dark, dark stuff, involuntary commitment to a psychiatric war, anxiety, depression, struggling With rehab uh the the grim experience of going through a marriage where you were just absolutely miserable, what was it that kept you going through those really awful times, that’s a hard one? I i really really struggled, and i got very close at some points to just calling calling it a day being done with it all.

I was very fortunate to have support of my mother, who was pretty strong in my life, helping me through it and um glimpses of moments. That would that would bring me to and say, there’s a reason to keep going and you can’t you can’t, stop. You’Ve got ta, you’ve got ta, keep going, and i know it looks like a fairy tale, but um that’s. Part of why i wanted to share this story is because i felt very alone in those times and so for, if there’s anyone else out there, who’s feeling that same feeling of feeling utterly alone you’re, not and that’s. What got me through it of of finding comfort in that you got clean, you came back to maine, you got divorced, but you were still in a world of hurt. Financially, you were you had nothing, so you got an old airstream trailer. You converted it and you began cooking out of that. Is it accurate to say aaron that at that point, cooking literally saved your life? Oh, for for sure i mean cooking was was all i had left. It was the only thing that i that i felt a bit of confidence in myself that i might be good at. It was the only thing i would give myself an ounce of credit, for we ended up opening the lost kitchen in an old mill building in your hometown of freedom, which you had bicycled past and walked past countless times.

When you were a kid, the restaurant became phenomenally popular and you just had this remarkable rebound when you were writing this book and thinking about the arc of your life from the lowest low up to being on the mountaintop with the lost kitchen. What do you make of what you’ve been through? I would never be here if i didn’t go through those hard moments. If i didn’t have all that friction, i could have never ignited this flame. That gave me the adrenaline to create what i’ve created the most difficult moments in your life. Those are the moments where you can sometimes find your greatest strengths. No doubt there’s a lot in the book that was painful to relive. How hard was it to write about it in an honest way? It was a process and i’d have to tell my my husband now. If i was finished, writing i’d have to say i apologize if i’m grumpy but i’m in 1992 right now – and that was you know a moment. So if i’m, a little grouchy, that’s that’s, where my brain is right now the book is divided into five parts. The titles of them are hope. Unity, prospect, liberty and freedom. Now, folks, from outside of maine, won’t appreciate it, but every one of those is a town in maine, no coincidence. Why did you do that? You’Re, the only person who has figured that one out um? I did that because i wanted to pay attention to these places.

It’S funny that we live in these towns that are um named in these hopeful ways, and so it seemed to make sense to to break it up into all of these things that happened in my life, but it’s also, the towns that are surrounding me and and Sort of this place that has made me freedom is the town that has indeed made you. This is where your life has played out and that was kind of a good break for you, because if you had grown up in say thorndike or albion, it just wouldn’t have the same literary ring. Would it it’d be a little different huh? The name of the book is finding freedom. There is no town in maine called finding happiness, so you couldn’t have used that, but have you finally found happiness in your life? I have. I found a good life and the funny thing is after writing. This.

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