“We wanted to do a startup restaurant, a little cafe where we could be the heart of the community,” said Chef Kerry Altiero. He had been part of the farm-to-table movement in Southern New Jersey before moving to Midcoast Maine 25 years ago with his then-partner Evelyn Donnelly. They renovated the historic Owl Benevolent and Fraternal Club on Oak Street in Rockland, and they named the cafe after their Husky dog “Miranda.”

Kerry Altiero (far right) and an assistant serve up wood-fired pizza outdoors. (Photo by 5iveLeaf Photography)

By all culinary — and environmental — standards, Cafe Miranda is noteworthy. Altiero’s Headacre Farm, owned since 2000, is just up the road in Owls Head. A portion of the products used at the restaurant are grown there, just a mile away. In recent years, Altiero has been named a Downeast Chef of the Year and has published a cookbook titled “Adventures in Comfort Food.” And the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has recognized Cafe Miranda as an environmental leader.

“We compost all our trash — from coffee grounds to napkins — basically everything but plastic wrap,” Altiero explained. “We can serve 200 people and take out a bag of trash about the size of a milk crate.”

Cafe Miranda staff make the business tick. From restaurant to statewide catering with mobile wood ovens, Cafe Miranda is a complex, soulful entity.

Last month, Cafe Miranda marked its 25th anniversary by inviting supporters — its flock — to an outdoor music and food Flock Party that doubled as a fundraiser
for the Knox County Homeless Coalition.

“From millionaires to the skate punks, everyone was there,” Altiero said. “And we raised a lot of money for the Knox County Homeless Coalition.”

Threshers Brewing Co., Camden National Bank, Wallace Tent & Party Rentals and Rock City Coffee co-sponsored the event, where pizza, beverage and cookbook sales, as well as direct donations from attendees, raised $7,000. Hannaford Supermarkets contributed another $10,000, more than doubling the total funds raised for the homeless coalition.

Cafe Miranda wood-fired pizzas being served at their first annual Flock Party in Rockland, proceeds from which benefited the Knox County Homeless Coalition. (Photo by Dagney C. Ernest)

“Every fundraiser and every donation is important, because we rely on private and foundation support for most of our budget,” said Becca Gildred, development director for the Homeless Coalition, which serves about 300 people. “But the Flock Party was a great coming together of all cross-sections of the community, like a block party but under the guise of pink flamingos.”

It may have been the first Flock Party, but Altiero is sure it won’t be the last.

“We can leverage our brand, which is known for integrity, passion and a little bit of silliness,” he said, “and help more organizations.”

These monthly profiles are brought to you by Hannaford Supermarkets, partners with local chefs since 1883. Hannaford works with more than 800 local farms and food producers.

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