June 1, 2013

Chefs on the move in Portland

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Chef Chris Gould is shown at 414 Fore St. in Portland, where he plans to open a new restaurant. The brick structure was erected in 1828.

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Krista Kern Desjarlais poses in the kitchen at Bresca, on Middle Street in Portland. She's opening a snack shack, Bresca and the Honeybee, at Outlet Beach in New Gloucester.

2012 Telegram file photo/John Ewing

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Starting the popular lunch service at Bresca was an experiment to see if working daytime hours would help. It did.

"I'm starting to think I need to make decisions about my life and my health," she said.

When Desjarlais saw the Outlet Beach property was for sale, it occurred to her that refurbishing its 1929 snack shack could be a step toward helping her shift out of night work.

"It's seasonal, but maybe I could eventually turn it into a bakery," she said. "The building's a camp that I'd have to winterize over time, but there's no bakeries in New Gloucester or Gray, and it's a really family-orientated community."

The chef isn't ready to say that Bresca is over for good. She still holds the lease on the restaurant space, and if no one steps forward to take it over, she may have to rethink her situation come September.

But for now, Outlet Beach is open for boating and swimming, and Desjarlais hopes to start serving food by June 10.

In addition to hamburgers and hot dogs, the menu will include sandwiches, a garden salad, deviled eggs and homemade ice cream -- all items from which people can build a picnic. Desjarlais promises that all of her food will still "have integrity" (she's buying her ingredients from local farms, for example), and she will try to keep prices low so locals won't get sticker shock.

"I believe in this life you have to take risks and continue the journey and just keep going," she said. "Who knows what it will bring?"

Damian Sansonetti 

The operator of the Blue Rooster Food Co. is planning to open a new restaurant called Sonnet.

Damian Sansonetti hasn't exactly been twiddling his thumbs since he moved to Portland from New York City, where he worked for renowned chef Daniel Boulud for six years.

Upon landing in Maine, Sansonetti helped redesign the menu at Taco Escobarr, hosted a series of pop-up dinners and opened an over-the-top sandwich shop on Dana Street called Blue Rooster Food Co. that has things on the menu like "Farmers Breakfast Tots" -- tater tots served with a fried local heritage duck egg, house-smoked bacon, pork heart pastrami and crispy pork skin.

There is more to come. Sansonetti is planning a new restaurant called Sonnet, which is both a play on his last name and a reflection of the concept of the restaurant. A sonnet is a 14-line poem, "so we may only offer 14 dishes -- or 16 dishes, because there are 16-line sonnets."

The chef said he doesn't necessarily want the restaurant to be classified as fine dining, but he does want it to be a place where diners will be "pleasantly surprised" by the food, "kind of like what you get at Blue Rooster."

"We're not just a sandwich shop," he said. "We're something a little bit different in the way we pick the ingredients and source stuff and prepare things. We want it to be a relaxed atmosphere because we want everyone to come in."

The food at his new restaurant will be Mediterranean in style, and it will be made with ingredients from Maine farms.

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Additional Photos

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Chef Damian Sansonetti is shown at his Blue Rooster Food Co. restaurant on Dana Street in Portland's Old Port district. He has plans for a new restaurant.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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David Levi will be opening a new restaurant called Vinland this fall at 593 Congress St. in Portland. His goal: to help build "the sustanable local food economy."

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


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