SKOWHEGAN – Mark LaCasse’s grandmother, the late Florence Sterns, operated the Village Candlelight Restaurant in downtown Skowhegan and cooked at the restaurant at Lakewood Theater in Madison.
When LaCasse developed his own passion for cooking, Sterns warned him of the stress and commitment of the restaurant business. She advised him never to open one of his own.
So LaCasse, 38, and his wife, Kelly, 34, did the next best thing — they started selling frozen gourmet dinners at farmers markets in 2011. The business, called The Maine Meal, now includes frozen meal sales at the Sunday River ski area base lodge and two nearby hotels.
All the food is prepared, vacuum sealed and frozen in the kitchen of the former Candlelight on Madison Avenue, which family members still own.
The Maine Meal features Maine-grown food from local farms, fishermen and producers, resulting in 16 to 20 different meal packets. Each packet serves two people.
An entire meal will cost $30 to $35. Preparation time is 10 to 20 minutes, from frozen package to the table. All of the meals come fully cooked with “boil-in-bag” heating instructions.