How Much Is Dinner At The Lost Kitchen

How much dinner at The Lost Kitchen cost?

How are postcards selected? Postcards are selected at random. On April 1st each year, we pull cards one by one to fill all tables for our season. How do I find out if my postcard is pulled? If and when your card is chosen, we call you right away to inform you and help you pick a date to join us.

  • Cards are hand-pulled one at a time by our small team of staff members.
  • Our first round of postcard pulls takes place from April 1st until May the 15th.
  • If you do not receive a call within this timeframe, this means your card was not pulled.
  • In the event that we have cancelations, we draw again to fill the vacancy.

So this means your phone could ring anytime from April 1st until our final dinner of the season at the end of September. Do I get to pick which date I’d like to come for dinner? Yes! If and when your card is pulled, we work with you personally to help you find the best date and table for your party.

The first card pulled for the season gets the first pick, and so on and so on, until the last card of the initial pulling period is pulled. How many guests may I bring? We have a handful of tables and a few special spots at our counter which can accommodate anywhere from 1-7 guests per party depending on the table size.

Party size is dependent on table availability at the time of booking. Is there a cancelation list? Yes! If you send us a card this year (or even in years past), your card is eligible for our cancelation list for the entire season. In the event that we receive a cancelation, we pull another card to fill the vacancy.

Are postcards sent from previous years saved? Yes. We save every postcard we receive. However, only postcards sent in the current year are included in the initial drawing from the first day of spring until May 15th, Cards from years past are combined and included in all of our cancelation list pulls. Do you accommodate dietary restrictions? An evening with us consists of multiple courses made up of local ingredients including vegetables, fish, poultry, meat, dairy and grains.

We do not offer substitutions. However, in most dietary restriction cases, we have found that it may simply involve skipping a course or two, which over the duration of the evening will still provide for an enjoyable experience. If you or someone in your party has a dietary restriction, our staff will work with you personally to answer any questions and help you decide if TLK’s menu is appropriate for your diet.

  • How much does dinner cost? Dinner for the 2023 season is $250 per person (plus tax, gratuity & beverages).
  • Dinner is so much more than a meal at TLK.
  • It’s an evening, an adventure, a moment, and a memory.
  • A night with us lasts over 5 hours, consists of many, many, many courses and not only fills your bellies, but your hearts.

The mill is yours for the entire night, with an intimate group and the utmost personal attention from Erin and our tightly knit team. It is our duty to give you an experience that not only feels magical, but priceless and worth every hard earned penny at the same time.

Our dinners reflects the value of the best ingredients we can find, and our commitment to pay our staff fairly and consciously, the unique experience we work so hard to provide you with.2023 COVID dining room requirements? We currently do not have any dining room restrictions or requirements to dine inside at this time.

Please note; our dining room is small and dinners last up to 5 hours, therefore it is possible our environment may not be suitable for those who are immunocompromised.

Why is the lost kitchen closing?

The Lost Kitchen, which opened in the Gothic building in 2011, closed this spring with the only explanation for the sudden departure a blog post by owner and chef Erin French, who said she was taking a break after ‘going deep.’

Does Erin own the lost kitchen?

Meet its owner and head chef, Erin French. Erin French, head chef and owner of The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine.

Is Erin French still married?

Is Erin French married? – In an Instagram post from Aug.24, 2021, Erin wrote a sweet shoutout to her husband, Michael Dutton, for the couple’s third anniversary: “Celebrating three years of wedded bliss with my best friend. I already love you beyond all words.

  1. And the crazy thing is that my love for you just keeps growing exponentially every day.
  2. You root me on, you lift me up, and you’ve given this girl wings to fly and a runway to spread them.” She continued, “You let me be me, and you love me just like that.
  3. To find good honest love with you, to work side by side with you, to build this good simple life with you, is my greatest joy and honor.

Babe! Here’s to that one online wink that brought us together!!! Happy anniversary!” It appears she’s referencing Match.com, which uses a “wink” button to indicate interest. According to People, they did indeed meet on the dating site. Article continues below advertisement

Is The Lost Kitchen open in 2023?

Is The Lost Kitchen Still Open – The Lost Kitchen is closed during winter months and opens during warmer seasons. For 2023, it’s accepting reservations from 1st April to 15th May. The restaurant will open sometime after that.

How many courses are served at The Lost Kitchen?

Skip to content June, 2016 By: Karen Watterson Photography: Nicole Wolf With grace and grit, Erin French finds her way back to Freedom. Just before dinner is served at the Lost Kitchen, owner Erin French stands in the center of the simple dining room.

Her blonde hair is pulled back in a ponytail and her slim jeans are tucked into Bean boots. She wears a black linen apron, made by her mother, over a black t-shirt. French taps on a glass and diners turn their heads to pay attention. “It boggles my mind that you all keep showing up,” she says. “Thank you for proving everyone wrong.

Thank you for coming to the middle of nowhere.” Her words are heartfelt as she continues, “I feel safe, I feel loved. Cheers to Freedom. There’s no place I’d rather be.” With a gentle clinking of glasses, dinner commences. Getting to Freedom takes time.

  • There’s no hurrying on the country roads east of Waterville and northwest of Belfast.
  • It’s a journey over hills and past tumbledown barns, open fields, and family farms.
  • Freedom is French’s hometown, and it’s been a long road back, with many lessons learned along the way.
  • She left for college with dreams of medical school, but an unexpected pregnancy brought her back to Maine instead.

Her career in the kitchen took hold when she began working for Trillium Caterers in Belfast. “Karen Ruth really opened my eyes to seeing food as beautiful,” says French. After her thirtieth birthday, French reassessed her career trajectory. “I had to push forward and be my own boss,” she says.

  • She created a donation-only supper club in a Belfast apartment, serving 24 people at a time on Saturday nights.
  • It was hugely popular, with friends and eventually strangers jockeying for a place at the table.
  • A year later, in the space below that apartment, French opened a restaurant she called the Lost Kitchen.

There were no signs, and patrons had to search for the door. Still, the reputation of her fine food brought acclaim and even a prestigious invitation to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. But success is a double-edged sword, and can bring stress in many forms, including strain on a marriage.

  • It was a painful time for French, culminating in a contentious divorce in which she lost every single thing but the rights to the restaurant’s name.
  • You can hear the gratitude in French’s voice when she speaks of her return to Freedom and her parents’ home.
  • With their help, she took time to regroup both personally and professionally.

Much of her healing process took place in the kitchen; eventually the instinct and desire to cook for others took over. She purchased a 1965 Airstream trailer with the intention of turning it into a mobile restaurant, and soon was back in business. With staff from the Lost Kitchen offering help, she hosted pop-up dinners in and around Freedom, always with an eye towards a more permanent arrangement.

It wasn’t long after that when a space in Freedom’s old grist mill became available. The landlord had rehabilitated the space without knowing who the future tenant might be. “The space was empty, just walls and a floor and a waterfall outside the window,” she says. Her do-it-yourself attitude is now evident in every corner of the room.

Tables have been crafted from wood salvaged from a bar down the street, legs on the communal table in the room’s center are made of metal piping from a home improvement store, and Windsor chairs, purchased unfinished, are painted dark pewter. On one wall is a gorgeous, six-burner Lacanche range, the only one in commercial use in the country.

It’s both a centerpiece and a workhorse. French refers to it as her piano because “it sometimes looks like I’m playing it when I cook,” she says. A smooth concrete-topped island with a selection of cookbooks separates the kitchen from the dining area. I take one of four seats at the counter, which gives a full view of the culinary magic just a few feet away.

I feel as if I’m watching a caring friend cook dinner for me in the big kitchen of an elegantly simple farmhouse. French has decorated the room simply with free and foraged items, including large glass cylinders filled with cut birch logs and sprays of red berries.

  • At one end of the room, a salvaged Hoosier cabinet holds glassware.
  • Tables are set with charmingly mismatched vintage china and flatware scored at auctions and tag sales, with a few pieces that belonged to her grandmother.
  • Gray linen napkins were sewn by French’s mother, Deanna Richardson.
  • Richardson proudly fills the role of her daughter’s right-hand assistant, handling napkin-ironing, procurement, menu- printing, reservations, and, perhaps most importantly, buying and selling wine.

An old-fashioned law in the town of Freedom prohibits the sale of alcohol in restaurants, but the pair have turned that problem into the loveliest solution. Below the dining room, they have created a small wine cellar in the stone foundation of the mill, displaying bottles on top of barrels and antique shelving.

  • The evening’s menu is printed out for guests, so that they may choose a bottle from Richardson’s carefully curated selection that best complements the food.
  • While guests are visiting the candlelit cellar, French is upstairs, still at work on tonight’s dishes.
  • When we first arrived earlier in the day, she was still unsure of what would be on tonight’s menu.

A large saucepan of pears is slowly poaching on the stove, in an aromatic mixture of cinnamon, bay leaf, wine, and cognac. “I’m just making it up,” she says, having not yet decided what the fruit will be used for. “And I screwed up the gougères again,” she says unapologetically, taking it in stride.

She quickly mixes up a new batch and pipes the savory dough onto baking sheets. It’s important to note that Erin French is a self-taught cook. She learned the fundamentals and the joy of creating food while working at her father’s diner, starting at the age of 12, but soon realized she wasn’t satisfied with the standard fried chicken and burgers.

“Not going to cooking school has been a blessing in disguise,” she says, “Instead, I’ve been able to develop my own style. I cringe at the title of chef.” Her style is loose and unpretentious, driven by the availability of local ingredients. “They’re the stars and I just let them shine,” she says, arranging bright watermelon radishes alongside salted butter, bread, and olives on a “welcome board” fashioned from wood scraps left over from making the dining tables.

French will serve these herself as a way of greeting guests. There is one seating a night at the Lost Kitchen, and dinner is a single prix fixe meal of four courses, but French can’t seem to keep herself from expanding, usually into eight courses. She tries to explain: “We keep finding goodies at the market that I want to include.” Each extra is an enchanting surprise, starting with the new batch of pecorino gougères served with a ramekin of lemony crab salad, presented on a scrap of newspaper upon a slate tile.

Next, a pair of sparkling-fresh Damariscotta oysters is enhanced with a tangy and sweet apple mignonette. Afterwards, French presents us each with a palate-cleansing apple cider and fennel sorbet, possibly the most delicious, refreshing single spoonful I’ve ever tasted.

  • And we haven’t been served a single item from the set menu yet.
  • Those pears that were poaching on the stove? French has determined that they belong atop a salad of arugula and mustard greens with toasted hazelnuts, blue cheese, and cider-shallot vinaigrette.
  • She admits that she’s never made this particular salad before, but her instincts are spot-on.

The sweetness of the pears plays well with the bitter greens. It’s this sort of unbound, experimental approach that makes each meal a revelation. Now French is back at the stove, tending to eight smoking-hot cast iron pans. She sways gracefully as she places fish fillets in the sizzling butter, seasoning as she goes, then moving them to the oven.

  1. It’s a joy to watch her and the all-female staff work together like choreographed performers, elegantly in synch with French and her “piano.” One server spoons out parsnip puree, another piles on a bit of carrot salad, and Richardson stands by with sprigs of thyme for garnish.
  2. French places the delicate fish just so, and finishes the dish with buttery pan juices.

Tonight’s dessert is a light and creamy frozen orange terrine with a crunchy vein of salted pecan brittle and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. But for good measure, French pulls a batch of gingersnaps from the oven and serves them to us, chewy and warm.

To say that the Lost Kitchen is just about this evening’s dinner, or the glory of any particular dish, would be to diminish the experience. From the arrival at the old mill, to the hidden wine cellar; from the first glimpse of the unpretentious, gracious dining room to the last warm farewell from Erin French and her attentive staff; it all adds up to a celebration of creativity, excellence, and genuine hospitality.

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Freedom is the location of the Lost Kitchen and it is also French’s current state of mind. “I figured out how I want to live my life and I’m so happy. I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” she says.

How old is Erin French?

French, who is 36, has built a cult following with her own approach — open, intimate and personal.

What does Michael Dutton do for a living?

He is the Co-Founder of 6ccMedia, a content strategy and production company. He is also the Media Advisor to Chef Erin French and her brand, The Lost Kitchen.

Are children allowed at The Lost Kitchen?

Yes, the whole family are welcome! We ask that you supervise your children when visiting and ensure they are respectful of other diners, gardens and village community.

How did Erin French make her money?

How a Lost Restaurant Inspired Chef Erin French’s Culinary Success To eat at chef Erin French’s critically acclaimed restaurant,, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops. First, you’ll have to mail in a postcard to enter a lottery to get a table. Then, the next challenge is finding the place: From the mid-coast town of Belfast,, drive 17 miles inland through woods and rolling farmland on a two-lane country road.

Watch closely or you’ll miss the sign for Freedom. Take a quick left on Main Street, and there’s The Mill at Freedom Falls — The Lost Kitchen’s once crumbling, now beautifully renovated home. Cross a narrow bridge over a rushing stream, and you’re there. The dining room has sanded plank floors, exposed beams, and suspended mill trestles.

A wall of windows looks out onto the stream and bridge. Upstairs is a school for local kids; downstairs, a stone-walled wine store with bottles carefully curated by The Lost Kitchen’s sommelier. There are no restaurant liquor licenses to be had in tiny Freedom, but you can buy wine at the store to drink at The Lost Kitchen, or bring your own.

The restaurant opened quietly in 2017 but news of it spread, and customers now come from many miles away. Chef Erin French, who is entirely self-taught, creates unfussy, astonishingly delicious food using as few ingredients as possible in combinations that are both exciting and viscerally satisfying.

She doesn’t rely on fancy sauces or avant-garde culinary techniques; she is rooted in tradition. She gets some of her recipes from her mother and grandmother, elevating them and making them her own. French’s almost entirely female crew, whom she counts as close friends, are also local farmers.

“I get the best produce,” she said. “My friend will text me a photo of a cauliflower in her field, and I’ll say, ‘Bring me 12 of those.’ ” Later, that friend will serve the cauliflower herself. Another friend who raises ducks taught French how to confit them. A third plates the salad greens she grows. Everything French serves is in season.

Even in late-winter months, when local ingredients are scarce, she is resourceful, using wintered-over like beets in complex-tasting sauces for, or crisp brightened with citrus and mellowed with a smoky bacon dressing. The Lost Kitchen is as farm-to-table as it gets.

French even made the tables, in classic Maine DIY fashion, out of barn boards and plumbing fixtures. French herself is as local as it gets. She was born and raised in Freedom. By the time she was 14, she was flipping burgers on the line in her parents’ diner located only a mile from the old mill. After college at Northeastern in Boston, she moved to California to become a doctor.

At 21, an unexpected pregnancy derailed that dream. She moved back home to have her son, Jaim; her mother was her Lamaze partner. Returning to Maine proved to be a good decision. French sold her own baked goods and worked for a local caterer for years; then, when she was 30, she started an underground supper club out of her apartment in Belfast and called it The Lost Kitchen.

  1. She experimented and studied cookbooks obsessively.
  2. Her rigorous autodidacticism paid off — her weekly dinners sold out within minutes.
  3. She and her then-husband bought their building, an old bank; after a five-month renovation and build-out, French opened a restaurant downstairs.
  4. It had crazy success,” she said.

“I had a following.” In 2013, she lost the restaurant and many personal possessions, even her grandmother’s china, in a painful divorce. (French has since opened up about her custody battle and addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs in her 2021 memoir,,) Broke, homeless, and heartbroken, she moved to Freedom with Jaim, back in with her parents (“Thank God for them!”).

  1. They helped her raise money to buy a 1965 Airstream.
  2. She gutted it with a sledgehammer, then built a kitchen inside and gave pop-up dinner parties across Maine.
  3. A friend, a farmer whose chickens are now served at The Lost Kitchen, told French to check out the town’s old mill.
  4. The first time she walked in, her jaw dropped.

She presented a business plan to potential investors (mostly friends and family), cashed in an inheritance from her grandfather, and signed a lease. Over the next several months, she built out a simple open kitchen behind a polished concrete island. With symbolic aptness, The Lost Kitchen reopened in 2017.

  • Four nights a week, French cooks with focused but easy efficiency for a sold-out room while her crew moves from the fryer to counter to tables; the feeling in the candlelit space is calm, festive, and homey all at once.
  • Ensconced in her community, French is bringing the world to Freedom.
  • I’ve come full circle,” she said.

Thanks for your feedback! : How a Lost Restaurant Inspired Chef Erin French’s Culinary Success

Does Erin French own the mill at The Lost Kitchen?

WELCOME to the website for the Mill at Freedom Falls. We are happy that you looked us up. Our hope in producing this site is that it will lead other people to appreciate the beauty and the utility of the old water-driven mills that were so prevalent in the northeast, serving as the focal points for their communities; and to inspire others to consider this kind of project elsewhere.

Erin French’s restaurant, The Lost Kitchen occupies the mill and utilizes much of the new foundation under the western and southern additions. Her wine store is in the foundation under the north addition. The idea to restore the Mill, built as a grist mill in 1834, germinated several years ago. Research began in 2008; in April of 2012 the Mill was entered in the Register of Historic Places (#12000228), and on-the-ground rehabilitation began in May 2012.

The rehabilitation was completed in the spring of 2013, and the building is now fully occupied. We have attempted to give you some insight into the history of this particular mill and its recent rehabilitation. If you have further questions about the Mill or the project, please click here to contact us and please take a look at our blog which chronicles the rehabilitation process.

Is the owner of The Lost Kitchen married?

Erin French Details Her Struggle with Addiction in New Memoir: ‘I Wanted to Drown It All Out’ The waterfall outside, the restaurant opened in 2014, is a reminder of how far she’s come. “The first year we opened, I would stand at the stove and look out the window,” French — a home cook who turned Freedom, a remote Maine town with only 719 residents, into a world-famous foodie destination — tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

“It was like, ‘Oh my God, I would have never gotten to this beautiful point without all of that pain.’ I kept telling myself that I had to cry all of these rivers to find one waterfall.” In 2013 French entered rehab to treat an addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs. At the time, she was in the dark depths of a troubled first marriage, which resulted in divorce, a bitter custody battle for her son, now 18, and the loss of her first restaurant.

She was forced to start over—rebuilding her life, her confidence and her career from scratch. “It was a ride, but it was also really cathartic,” French says of writing her memoir Finding Freedom. Now French, 40, is opening up about her struggles in a new memoir,, and on, a series on Chip and ‘s Magnolia Network (streaming on discovery+).

  • She hopes her story helps others find their way through similarly difficult situations.
  • We all have imperfect moments,” she says.
  • It’s nice to be reminded in those moments that you’re not alone.” In many ways French’s success in the kitchen seems like destiny.
  • Born and raised in Freedom, she spent her afternoons doing homework in a booth at her dad’s family diner.

“My whole childhood is filled with memories there,” she says. “I remember the nutmeg-laced donuts, so warm and crunchy — I can still taste it.” She jumped into different roles, from washing dishes to waiting tables to flipping pancakes. “Food ran through our entire family.

  • We were surrounded by it,” she says.
  • But she still longed for experiences outside small-town life, so she left to study medicine at Northeastern University in Boston.
  • Two years later she dropped out and moved back home when she got pregnant at age 21 by a high school boyfriend.
  • I was really upset with myself and completely ashamed.

I thought I was given a chance, and I threw it all away,” she says. “My mother was crazy supportive. She told me, ‘There will be joy. We’re going to find joy in this.’ ” French’s son Jaim (with her in 2015) is “night and day different than me,” she says.

  1. He’s comfortable in his skin.”.
  2. Courtesy Erin French French raised her son Jaim (a play on the French j’aime, meaning “I love”) as a single mom and began honing her cooking skills in her parents’ kitchen.
  3. Along the way she also fell in love again, got married and, by 2010, was inviting friends over for supper clubs in their apartment in nearby Belfast.

There she established her elegant but humble cooking style, using whatever produce was nearby and in season. “When I started, I didn’t believe in myself enough,” she admits. “But I knew that if I was going to be making simple food, I had to find the best ingredients.” French still considers herself more of a host than a cook.

“I love caring for people,” she says. “It’s the setting of the table. It’s getting the lights just right. It’s the music. Watching everyone have that experience is my greatest joy.” For more of Erin French’s story, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. Her dinners quickly grew in popularity, and the couple saved enough money to open a restaurant in 2012.

It was an immediate success and attracted attention from all over the country — but behind the scenes her marriage was crumbling. “He put me down, made me feel foolish, emotional, young, dumb,” she writes in her memoir. She struggled with depression and anxiety, and prescriptions that helped her cope—pills like Xanax and Ambien—became an addiction.

“I was hoarding them, trying to get multiple prescriptions from one doctor or another because it was the only thing that made me feel okay,” she says. “I wanted to drown it all out.” In 2013 she checked herself into rehab and got clean, but her fight was far from over. A few days into her two-week treatment, French learned that her husband had secretly closed their restaurant and changed the locks.

“It was sort of that awakening moment, when you realize all your fears were true,” she says. “Because you want to believe, like, ‘Well, maybe he is a good person.’ ” Debt, divorce and a custody battle with her ex-husband over Jaim forced French to move into a cabin on her parents’ land.

She converted an old Airstream into a mobile kitchen she jokingly dubbed “the divorcemobile” and started cooking for people again. “Walls had never defined me,” she says. “It was what I brought to the table that defined me.” A year after she’d been in rehab, French opened the Lost Kitchen inside a restored gristmill “in the middle of nowhere.” She was also granted joint custody of Jaim.

By 2016 French had been nominated for a James Beard Award and, “Reservations got out of control. We couldn’t handle it anymore,” she says. She decided to ask people to send a postcard to be entered into a table lottery. She receives more than 20,000 cards a year, making it one of the hardest-to-book restaurants in the country.

  1. Courtesy Erin French When the pandemic put her business at risk of closing, French adapted to include an online market to stay afloat.
  2. I was like, ‘You’re an old pro at this.
  3. You’ve lost everything before.
  4. Let’s do it again,’ ” she says.
  5. Now she and her team — an all-women staff, many of whom returned from her first restaurant, and her mom, the restaurant’s sommelier — are preparing to reopen for the season.

A key part of her “village” is her new husband,, a media executive, whom she met on match.com and married in 2018. “I was fearful no one would ever love me again. I felt tainted,” she says. “But the relationship I’m in now — he’s so supportive and is never trying to put a cap on me.” It’s been a long road, but French says she wouldn’t change a thing about her life — and she only needs to look out the window at Freedom Falls if she loses faith in herself: “It’s those moments of difficulty that shape us.

How many nights a week does The Lost Kitchen serve?

All About The Lost Kitchen Freedom In Maine – Chef Erin French opened this restaurant in 2013 with a unique reservation system. The eatery is housed in an old mill in the small town of Freedom. Erin and her team support the local farmers and foragers for the restaurant supply.

The menu is changed every night. Erin French was famous for her cookbooks even before Lost Kitchen. Her skills and the unique reservation system are added parameters of the place’s popularity. It’s one of the best restaurants in Maine besides the White Barn Inn in Kennebunk. This 48-seater restaurant is open for four nights weekly in the warm seasons.

Upon entering the place, you can feel the vibes of a private club with candlelight on the tables, an open kitchen, and the beautiful beams and posts of an old meal. Customers can watch Erin’s cooking from the countertop. She visits the tables with a smiling face.

  1. The ambiance is friendly and cozy.
  2. Every year the restaurant sends an official newsletter with details about the season.
  3. The place is overflowed with thousands of postcards for reservations after that.
  4. The chef and her team choose the guest list for every night and call them to provide the reservation ticket number.

Most of the time, people have to be on the waiting list for a long, long time. If one cannot get a reservation, the best alternative is to get a cookbook by Erin French and try her recipes at home. The eatery supports local farmers and other noble causes like hunger relief programs.

What is Erin French’s son’s name?

October 9, 2022 / 10:12 AM / CBS News How Erin French found herself at The Lost Kitchen How Erin French found herself at The Lost Kitchen 05:47 By the time Erin French welcomes guests – 50 of them, twice a week – to her Lost Kitchen restaurant, they’ve been sipping and sampling for two hours already – and they haven’t even gotten to what’s on the menu yet. “I just wanted to pause a moment and welcome you all,” French told her guests. “I hope you taste our joy tonight because that is what we’re runnin’ on, and some good ingredients, and a lot of love!” And something else: baked into every meal she serves is the story of how, at the Lost Kitchen, she found freedom, and now fame, in Freedom, Maine (population: about 700). French said, “You make me feel like this is the center of the universe.” The cookbook author, bestselling memoirist and TV chef welcomes guests to The Lost Kitchen restaurant, one of the hardest-to get reservations in the world. CBS News So, it seems, it is. The Lost Kitchen is one of the hardest-to-get reservations in the world. Chef Erin French at The Lost Kitchen. CBS News Here’s what she told correspondent Martha Teichner: “My dad was a pretty hard guy to be around.” Her father, Jeff Richardson, owned a diner just outside Freedom. Erin started working there at age 12. “To have moments when I would make something on the line, and he’d give that quiet look of, ‘You did it right,’ that’s where I learned to figure out this challenging relationship with my dad, was to cook together.” Young Erin at work at her father’s diner. Erin French Her mother, Deanna, was a schoolteacher. “She would never speak out; she wasn’t allowed to,” French said. All Erin wanted to do was get away from the diner, out of Freedom, and she did. But after 2½ years of college in Boston, at 21, she discovered she was pregnant; dropped out; and went back to Freedom to have her baby, a boy she named Jaim – and to work at the diner.

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Even coming back home and diving back into food, I still wasn’t picking up on the cues that maybe I love this,” she said. Finally, it sunk in. At the age of 30, French opened a restaurant, the first Lost Kitchen. It was a hit, but her life was a wreck, especially her marriage. “My anxiety was growing. I was working these crazy hours, and I was in this miserable marriage.

I started taking prescription medication, and that’s when the spiral started to happen.” What came next? Addiction, a drawn-out, nasty divorce. French lost her restaurant. For a time, she even lost custody of her son. So, she had to drag herself out of the depths.

Her lifeboat was a land yacht – a wreck of an Airstream. “I spent a lot of, like, just recovery time just bringing myself back to life living here,” she told Teichner. “It was an absolute mess.” She took a sledgehammer to the interior: “I just had this one moment of, just let it all go, and just needed a good scream and a good cry, and a fresh beginning.” It became the Lost Kitchen on wheels.

Now, it’s parked a few yards from the 19th century mill where the restaurant has been for the last eight years, a tourist attraction even for people who can’t get reservations (and that’s practically everybody). The Lost Kitchen, now serving inside an old mill in Freedom, Maine. CBS News To get a reservation at the Los Kitchen, you have to send in a postcard; they are drawn at random to determine who gets in. This year, the restaurant received more than 50,000 postcards. Little Neck Clams. CBS News The Lost Kitchen is staffed mainly by women, all French’s friends, who don’t need to talk as they work to music – a soundtrack for the happy ending to this story about second chances. French said, “There was a moment that I realized that I had to go through all of that to get exactly right here, and that is that kind of beautiful and terrifying thing about life.” Nine years ago, French met media executive Michael Dutton.

  • They got married in 2018.
  • French’s mother, now divorced from her dad, does whatever needs doing at the Lost Kitchen.
  • And when dinner begins French presides over the Lost Kitchen, like a woman who has finally found herself.
  • She raised a glass to her guests at the restaurant: “Here’s to the memories we make in this room.

I hope they last a good long time. Here’s to three more hours of eating!” For more info:

The Lost Kitchen Restaurant, Freedom, MaineFollow Eric French on Instagram “Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch” by Erin French (Celadon Books), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound “The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine: A Cookbook” by Erin French (Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed), in Hardcover and eBook formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound For more information on Erin French and her upcoming cookbook, click here “The Lost Kitchen” (Magnolia Network)

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Who is Erin French’s mother?

Jeffrey Brown: Reinvention came through food, first driving around an old airstream to do pop-up dinners in barns, orchards and farms, then in the restored old mill back in the town she’d first so wanted to leave. This is a proudly women-run business, a small group of friends, with everyone doing more than one job.

French’s mother, Deanna, divorced from French’s father, learned the wine business from the bottom up, and runs the wine cellar and shop. The secret to her success, French believes, make the restaurant feel like home, keep the food simple and fresh, cook by intuition. Jeffrey Brown: They also raised money to fight food insecurity here in Waldo County.

To do that, they turned to their signature reservation system. Some 20,000 people around the U.S. and 25 other countries apply each year by postcard, some quite fanciful, to have their names drawn for a coveted table. French asked them, people well-off enough to pay $190 per person, plus tip, tax and wine, to include a few dollars for the aid fund.

  • She’s raised more than $330,000 to date.
  • Jeffrey Brown: And, for now, trying to have a 2021 season.
  • Last summer, with husband and business partner Michael Dutton, French built three small cabins in the woods for isolated dining.
  • Soon, she will open for outdoor meals and, playing it safe for now, hopes to open The Lost Kitchen indoors by summer’s end.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jeffrey Brown in Freedom, Maine.

Why did Erin French close The Lost Kitchen?

The Lost Kitchen, which opened in the Gothic building in 2011, closed this spring with the only explanation for the sudden departure a blog post by owner and chef Erin French, who said she was taking a break after ‘going deep.’

How do you get invited to The Lost Kitchen?

People send in post cards then the restaurant chooses from those, reaching out to people to book reservations. The Lost Kitchen has recently partnered with area nonprofits, encouraging potential diners to donate.

How old is chef at Lost Kitchen?

By Suzanne Rico Photographed by Séan Alonzo Harris From our April 2015 issue – In a humid summer night in central Maine, inside a defunct 1834 gristmill, Erin French is working in an open kitchen, moving purposefully between an elegant Lacanche range and a white double farmhouse sink.

  1. The dining room’s seven tables are full, and candlelight softens the faces of the guests, just barely illuminating the rough wooden walls and the beamed ceiling, still ornamented with the mill’s original pulley system.
  2. French is putting the finishing touches of flash-fried fresh rosemary on an appetizer of cherrystone clams in a garlic-studded broth.

Her shoulder-length blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail. She seems oblivious to the dining room beyond her countertop, unsmiling and focused on the plate in front of her, as if far more hinges on her perfect execution than only the success of this meal.

A 34-year-old self-taught chef who has cooked professionally for just four years, French is hoping that her new restaurant, the Lost Kitchen, will be her comeback venture following a humiliating downfall. In the span of a few months in 2013, she went from being an acclaimed restaurateur, invited to host a dinner at the renowned James Beard House, to losing her first restaurant, along with her home, marriage, and custody of her only child.

It was a dramatic fall from grace — complete with drugs, booze, lost love, the works — and it gave the gossip mill in her then-home of Belfast a story to grind for months. For French, it was a tumultuous time of self-loathing — and self-discovery. Until a couple of years ago, the Mill at Freedom Falls was a boarded-up wreck.

French grew up in Freedom and remembers the place from her childhood: “a dilapidated old place with all the bad boys hanging around, my mom used to tell me to stay away.” In 2012, a retired investment banker from Camden began an 18-month passion project — a complete renovation during which the mill’s moss-slicked stone foundation was rebalanced and fortified.

Around the time the project was being completed, French was doing some internal rebalancing of her own. When a local farmer told her that the mill’s new owners needed a ground-floor tenant, she saw an opportunity to dust off her psychic grime and move forward by doing what she loves: using fresh, locally grown ingredients to create meals infused with her country-girl personality.

  • I’ve come full circle,” French says one morning, seated in the empty restaurant, gauzy light streaming through the paned windows.
  • You know? ‘Freedom’ found and all that.” Though it only opened last July, the Lost Kitchen is already booking reservations weeks in advance, its reputation attracting diners who might otherwise have little reason to drop in on Freedom, population 719.

From the handwritten guest checks (no computer screens here) to the austere metal coat rack and plain pine hangers in the entry hall, every detail at the restaurant embodies the simplicity that French says she now craves. The restaurant’s only other full-time employee, helping to serve, seat, and clear tables, is French’s 59-year-old mother, Deanna Richardson.

  1. When French was a kid, her parents owned a diner just outside Freedom called Ridgetop Restaurant.
  2. She started learning to cook there when she was in kindergarten, around the same time she was learning to ice-skate on the pond next to the dilapidated old mill.
  3. On weekends and after school, French flipped burgers and stuffed lobster rolls, picking nasturtium flowers from her mother’s garden for garnish.

At home, she played restaurant instead of house. Whether her mother was serving hot dogs or spaghetti for supper, Erin would often decorate the table with candles and colored lights, placing a handmade menu next to each plate to create a dining experience, never wanting a meal to be consumed without contemplation and care. The Lost Kitchen occupies the ground floor of the restored Mill at Freedom Falls. It wasn’t until in 2010, when French turned 30, that she started taking seriously the prospect of a career in cooking. By then, she was a college dropout getting by on waitressing, bartending, and catering gigs.

  • She’d been married since 2006 to a Belfast boatbuilder, Todd French, and the two were living in Belfast, raising her eight-year-old son from a previous relationship.
  • With her 20s behind her, French suddenly felt a pressure to make her mark, and the place she felt most comfortable doing it was in the kitchen.

Without any formal training, however, she knew she’d be lucky to find work as a line cook. So instead, French launched a series of informal dinners that she called Secret Suppers, served on Saturday nights in a rented apartment on the top floor of Belfast’s Gothic Building, a landmark 19th-century former bank.

Each week, two dozen diners paid up to $40 (a suggested donation) for a seat at French’s table, where she served traditional Maine favorites with a twist, like miniature lobster rolls with baby arugula, aioli, and pickled purple carrot slaw. The first Secret Suppers were attended by friends and acquaintances, but within Belfast’s burgeoning foodie community, word quickly spread that something special was cooking at the Gothic.

Within a couple of months, French’s Secret Suppers email list — and waiting list — had grown long. “I wasn’t surprised that it caught on,” says Nancy Harmon Jenkins, a Camden-based food writer who attended some of the Secret Suppers. “Her food was glamorous, but not over the top.” French’s presentation, Harmon Jenkins says, was extraordinary.

  • Every time I posted something on Facebook, there would be people asking, ‘Where is it? How can I get in?'” The success of the Secret Suppers gave French an abrupt underground foodie cachet — no culinary education needed.
  • And to this day, she makes no bones about her up-by-the-bootstraps pedigree.
  • It makes me uncomfortable when people call me a chef,” she says.

“I’m like, nope! I’m just a girl who cooks.” In May of 2011, the girl who cooks and her husband took out a mortgage and bought the Gothic Building. Six months later, she opened a restaurant on the ground floor called the Lost Kitchen. It was more or less an instant hot ticket, garnering attention from the likes of The New York Times and Elle Décor,

French threw herself into the work, creating five new menus a week, cooking on the line in the evenings, handling the demands of intensely local sourcing, keeping up a rather grandiloquent blog — and, of course, parenting her son. “I felt like I got permission to follow my dreams,” she says. The Lost Kitchen had been open for more than a year when the James Beard Foundation invited French to Manhattan, to host a dinner at its prestigious Beard House series.

It was a huge vote of confidence. But as French’s culinary star rose, so did her stress level. She was putting in 18-hour workdays. Before long, the glass of wine she liked to nurse while cooking turned into two or three, then a whole bottle. She started taking, then abusing, prescription drugs for anxiety and depression.

As her downward spiral gained speed, her already tumultuous marriage — a seven-year union that included fights so virulent, the police were sometimes called — exploded like a poorly built house in a hurricane. “The restaurant tipped our stress point beyond what it could handle,” French says today. She keeps her tone neutral and chooses her words carefully when discussing her marriage, as if picking a path through a still-dangerous territory.

“And it was bitter. You know how you get those nasty divorces? Well, this was in the 1 percent of the nasty ones.” But as French’s culinary star rose, so did her stress level. She was putting in 18-hour workdays. Before long, the glass of wine she liked to nurse while cooking turned into two or three, then a whole bottle.

  • In April of 2013 — a year-and-a-half after launching the Lost Kitchen, and just weeks before what was to be her triumphant Beard House dinner — the court battle resulting from her divorce left French locked out of both her restaurant and her apartment.
  • Of the restaurant, the only thing French still owned was the name.

“One flip of a lock, and I lost everything,” she remembers. “Every whisk. Every skillet.” Worse still, a magistrate awarded temporary custody of French’s 10-year-old son to his father. “I considered suicide, big time. Between losing my job, my apartment, and my son, there didn’t seem to be much reason to go on.” French’s mom saw the warning signs.

A lifelong educator who has worked with troubled children, Richardson begged her daughter to get help. “I stayed with her for weeks to make sure she was eating and safe and sleeping,” she remembers. “We worked out a rating scale from 1 to 10, a 10 meaning that she felt good. She would say a number — ‘I’m a 2 today, Mom’ — and I would know she was feeling bad.” Bill collectors started calling.

French’s depression was devastating. She agreed to enter treatment at a women’s rehabilitation center in Chicago. Then, at the airport, French suddenly balked: If she left now, would she have anything to come back to? “I don’t often use the f-word, but that night I did,” says Richardson.

  1. Even now, at the memory, the emotion sets her mouth into a tight, protective line.
  2. I said, ‘You are getting on that f-ing airplane!’ She was so distraught.” French boarded the plane, landed in Chicago, and checked into rehab.
  3. She stayed two weeks in treatment before her insurance company refused to cover any further bills.
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Still detoxing, French flew to Arizona to stay with friends for two more weeks, attending outpatient programs and enduring the last tremors of withdrawal. She returned to Freedom on Mother’s Day — shaky and skinny, but clean and sober. Not a week later, she traveled to New York to host her sold-out dinner at the Beard House.

I think of it as ‘The School of Me,'” French says of rehab. “I walked in there and met so many women who were in for so many reasons. This one was depressed, this one was an addict — but we were all basically just these women in pain.” Seated in the empty Lost Kitchen dining room, French looks across the room at her son, engrossed in a book at one of the nearby dinner tables.

She now shares custody with her ex. “It was amazing to sit in there,” she says, lowering her voice, “and just to spill out this shit-ton of pain. It’s amazing the healing you can accomplish.” These days, French dedicates Sundays to rest, family, and good food — even talking about work is forbidden. A month after coming back, French borrowed $5,000 from friends and family to buy a 1965 Airstream trailer and parked it by the pond near her parents’ farmhouse.

She took a sledgehammer to its interior (extremely satisfying, she says), installed an upgraded kitchen, and, come summer, revived her old email list to let people know she was cooking again. French started offering private pop-up dinners much like the Secret Suppers, parking the Airstream in idyllic, handpicked spots around the midcoast: freshly mowed fields, apple orchards, an old barn sitting off a dirt road.

The Airstream became a mobile haven that allowed French to bring “fork to field,” as she wrote in a blog post. Her blog went on to detail the list of things she accomplished that summer. Among them: Used a skill saw for the first time. Got a wicked suntan.

  • Years overdue.
  • Dried zillions of calendula blossoms.
  • Still wondering what to do with them.
  • Adopted a dog.
  • Still question who rescued whom.
  • By fall, French had signed a lease for the mill space.
  • Her goal was to transform the loft-like ground floor into a simple, homey-yet-elegant restaurant.
  • To do it, she used a small settlement from her divorce, investments from friends, and cheeky determination.

When she found a range she couldn’t afford, she cold-called the French company Lacanche and described the restaurant she envisioned. They said they loved what she was doing and negotiated a price she could afford. French reached out to the local women farmers who’d stocked her larder at the Belfast restaurant and asked them to play a role in the reboot.

From the dining room, she points into the kitchen at a lithe, tattooed woman with a suntanned face. “She raises and kills the ducks,” French says, “and her daughter is washing dishes while she’s home from school.” Every detail at the Lost Kitchen embodies the simplicity that French says she now craves.

When they’re not in the field with their crops, these women help French cook and serve the meals she creates each week. They are central to the restaurant’s success in more ways than one: French’s culinary philosophy is to let their bounty determine the direction of the menu.

  • I don’t think about what I’m going to do for the week and then go out and buy the food,” she says.
  • I see what comes in, and then I create the meals around that.” In cooking, as in life, French has learned how to start from zero, and then assemble things using only what’s at hand.
  • She starts with clean, earthy flavors and follows her intuition to put them together in inventive ways.

She’s up front about her shortcomings and how keeping things simple helps to compensate. “I don’t know how to make sauces,” French admits, “so I just don’t sauce things. This is place-driven food. Here we are, right now, and this is what’s for dinner.” A recent dinner at the Lost Kitchen started out with skillet-roasted clams with rosemary, lavender, and lime, followed by golden beet soup with a dollop of goat cheese and roasted walnuts.

Then came line-caught, sushi-grade bluefin tuna niçoise, served with red potatoes hardly bigger than pearls. The farmer who grew them happened to be the waitress, so she offered some background on the soil and weather conditions in which they thrive. “Erin loves them,” said the farmer-waitress, before retreating to the kitchen.

“So we save all of them for her.” The restaurant’s tranquil atmosphere evokes a time when high technology meant water rushing through the big wooden waterwheel outside — the stream’s steady whisper is part of the restaurant’s soundtrack. When French wants flowers for her tables, she walks through a field behind the restaurant and retrieves them from a neighbor’s greenhouse.

  1. During the day, the farmers come and go, delivering shining Bermuda onions or chickens freshly plucked, sometimes pausing to suggest a new dessert item or remark how fast the corn is ripening.
  2. Whether the Lost Kitchen’s idyllic insularity will be an asset or a drawback remains to be seen.
  3. All the way out in Freedom?” wonders food writer Harmon Jenkins.

“In the summer, sure. But in November? We’ll see if she can sustain that.” “It makes me uncomfortable when people call me a chef,” French says. “I’m like, nope! I’m just a girl who cooks.” As for French, she’s the first to admit that she’s still learning to sustain herself.

Much like Freedom’s restored mill, she is sturdier now, but still vulnerable. To keep her stress level in check, she opens the restaurant just four days a week and dedicates Sundays to rest and relaxation — even talking about work is off limits. For someone who identifies as “just a girl who cooks,” she is increasingly savvy about marketing: French has a manager in LA, a potential TV project in development, and a cookbook on the way from a Random House culinary imprint, inspired by the town she grew up in and the state she loves.

After living for more than a year in the Airstream behind her parents’ house, she’s recently moved into a place of her own — though French says she’ll always keep the trailer as a reminder of how fast life can veer into a ditch. Walking out across the narrow bridge that spans the stream behind the Lost Kitchen, French turns around to look at the resilient old building that’s provided her this second chance.

How many people does The Lost Kitchen hold?

How much does dinner at The Lost Kitchen cost? – According to The Press Herald, a dinner at The Lost Kitchen isn’t exactly cheap. A fixed-price meal is $195, and that’s before drinks or tips. But what’s more daunting than the price of your meal may be the wait to even get a seat at the table.

  • People all over the world clamor for a chance to dine there.
  • Erin and her staff choose who gets to dine there at random out of the postcards they’ve been asked to send in.
  • That’s the only way to make a reservation.
  • Those chosen will be called to book their reservation.
  • Unfortunately, this process will probably mean people may wait years to get a seat.

Luckily, if you aren’t chosen or can’t get seated on the date you’d like, a waiting list is available. Article continues below advertisement According to People, The Lost Kitchen seats 48 seats available per night, four nights a week. And since it’s seasonal, it’s only open six months out of the year.

  • Erin told the publication that having people send postcards instead of calling in to make a reservation has made the process more personal.
  • Article continues below advertisement “I feel we’re getting to know these people as we see their cards,” she said.
  • They put themselves into each one.
  • It’s always exciting to see whose card it was when you get to meet them and they come into our world.” At the time of the People article, Erin had gotten 70,000 postcards from hopeful guests and hadn’t thrown any of them away.

She keeps them all in her attic. “You can’t throw them away,” she said. “They’re people’s hopes and dreams.” But if you’re stuck on her restaurant’s waitlist, try her cookbook, In it, you’ll find 100 recipes to choose from that can give you a feel of what to expect when you finally make your reservation.

How much does it cost to eat at Hell’s Kitchen?

Your dining experience will start at the cost between $150 – $200 per person depending on the menu and meal.

Who is Lidey from The Lost Kitchen staff?

Lidey Heuck Lidey Heuck is a chef, recipe developer, and blogger. She began her career working as an assistant to Ina Garten, testing recipes and managing social media for Barefoot Contessa. Lidey is currently a monthly recipe contributor to the New York Times and the author of her own food and entertaining blog, LideyLikes.com, where she shares seasonal, simple, and crowd-pleasing recipes.

How much did Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen cost?

Where Famous Foodies Get Cooking – Sure, chefs have shiny, swanky kitchens on TV, but where do they fix their family feasts and midnight snacks at home? Some celebrity chefs use their TV riches to create a super-kitchen, like the Gordon Ramsay recently did on a kitchen that already cost about $820,000 and included a $110,000 stove.

But as you’ll see in the following slides, Gordon is not necessarily the norm. We got up in the kitchens of chefs and famous food professionals to point out what was important to each of them and what Photo: Susan Serra Sure, chefs have shiny, swanky kitchens on TV, but where do they fix their family feasts and midnight snacks at home? Some celebrity chefs use their TV riches to create a super-kitchen, like the drastic renovation Gordon Ramsay recently did on a kitchen that already cost about $820,000 and included a $110,000 stove.

But as you’ll see in the following slides, Gordon is not necessarily the norm. We got up in the kitchens of chefs and famous food professionals to point out what was important to each of them and what special features they’ve installed. Many celebrity chefs and food professionals live in New York City, so they have small kitchens almost by default, including household names like Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, and two other famous Manhattan residents whose specially designed kitchens you can click ahead to see.

How much does Gordon Ramsay charge for a meal?

Gordon Ramsay’s Restaurants Tend To Be Quite Expensive – So, how much does it cost to dine at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants? Well., if you want the good stuff, you’d better be prepared to fork over some dough. According to Culinary Travellers, “The prices will be different of course.

  • But we need to take the cost as an average.
  • For example, a burger will cost you around $20.
  • If we are talking about a proper meal with 7 courses the price will be way above $100 per person.
  • A la Carte Menu for 2 at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay Michelin Star will cost you 260 Euros for a couple.
  • That is a cheap meal compared to the other meals that are available,” the site writes.

However, things get more expensive from there, should you be willing to pay a premium. “There is an option you could go called ‘Restaurant Gordon Ramsay Masterclass Experience’ which is far too costly than what I just said. This will cost you around $1200 for you and your partner.

A Michelin Star Experience at Gordon Ramsay Restaurants will cost you somewhere between $150 to $1200. This does not include any tips,” the site continues. Now, on the lower end of things, just over $100 is not too bad, all things considered. Plenty of upscale spots charge more than this. On the higher end, however, is where things get ludicrous.

Then again, if the bill is that much, then the food is likely divine. If you’re looking to get some gourmet Gordon grub, then start saving now, especially if you’re looking for the best experience available. Next: Why Did Gordon Ramsay Get Sued For ‘Kitchen Nightmares’?

How much is dinner at Hells kitchen show?

How much does it cost to eat at Hell’s Kitchen? – We’re going to focus on the dinner menu, as that’s a classic dining time for Hell’s Kitchen. A popular way to go if you’re someone who has trouble making decisions is a prix fixe menu. Let them choose for you! We don’t have to live a life of confusion.

The three-course fixed menu costs $89.95 per person and is bumped up to $148.95 per person if you pair it with wine. We always say yes to wine. With dishes like pan seared scallops, golden beet salad, beef Wellington, and sticky toffee pudding, you will not leave hungry. Article continues below advertisement Thinking you might go rogue with their regular dinner menu? Great, we love food confidence.

The cheapest option that isn’t a side is the pumpkin soup, which will cost you $16.95. Over on the higher end, you’re looking at $79.95 for the mishima reserve wagyu ribeye. In between those two things lives a wide range of meals in the 20- and 30-dollar ranges, with the non-prix fixe beef Wellington coming in hot at $69.95 (nice).

How many days a week does Lost Kitchen serve dinner?

How much does dinner at The Lost Kitchen cost? – According to The Press Herald, a dinner at The Lost Kitchen isn’t exactly cheap. A fixed-price meal is $195, and that’s before drinks or tips. But what’s more daunting than the price of your meal may be the wait to even get a seat at the table.

People all over the world clamor for a chance to dine there. Erin and her staff choose who gets to dine there at random out of the postcards they’ve been asked to send in. That’s the only way to make a reservation. Those chosen will be called to book their reservation. Unfortunately, this process will probably mean people may wait years to get a seat.

Luckily, if you aren’t chosen or can’t get seated on the date you’d like, a waiting list is available. Article continues below advertisement According to People, The Lost Kitchen seats 48 seats available per night, four nights a week. And since it’s seasonal, it’s only open six months out of the year.

  • Erin told the publication that having people send postcards instead of calling in to make a reservation has made the process more personal.
  • Article continues below advertisement “I feel we’re getting to know these people as we see their cards,” she said.
  • They put themselves into each one.
  • It’s always exciting to see whose card it was when you get to meet them and they come into our world.” At the time of the People article, Erin had gotten 70,000 postcards from hopeful guests and hadn’t thrown any of them away.

She keeps them all in her attic. “You can’t throw them away,” she said. “They’re people’s hopes and dreams.” But if you’re stuck on her restaurant’s waitlist, try her cookbook, In it, you’ll find 100 recipes to choose from that can give you a feel of what to expect when you finally make your reservation.