Leon Vuong cooks at a Memorial Day brunch at Cara Stadler’s Tao Yuan in Brunswick in May. Vuong is closing his Portland Public Market House stall, The Frying Dutchman, so he can help reopen Tao Yuan, where he will be head chef and business partner. Sofia Aldinio/Staff Photographer

The chef-owner of The Frying Dutchman food stall at the Public Market House is closing that operation to help reopen the Tao Yuan restaurant in Brunswick, where he will be head chef and business partner.

Leon Vuong said the last day for his food stall will be next Wednesday. Vuong, who launched Frying Dutchman in January 2022 with business partner Cody Leland, said he needed to close his Public Market food stall to free himself up to focus fully on Tao Yuan.

Tao Yuan, which served sophisticated, seasonal Asian food, has been closed since the start of the pandemic. Owner/chef Cara Stadler – who also owns Bao Bao in Portland and ZaoZe Cafe in Brunswick – has been looking for a chef to help her reopen the venue. “I’ve been looking for someone who wants to be a partner in this,” Stadler said. “Tao takes a lot of time and energy, and I can’t do it by myself.

Stadler reached out to Vuong earlier this year, and the two collaborated on a pop-up brunch at Tao Yuan on Memorial Day, in part as a dry run so the pair could see how well they worked together.

“If we were going to end up being business partners, I thought we should make sure we like each other and can be happy about working together,” Stadler said.

Vuong, who has fine-dining cooking experience including at the Barbara Lynch restaurant Menton in Boston, said he’ll retire most of his Frying Dutchman dishes along with the venue itself. At Tao Yuan, Vuong said he expects they’ll keep some of the signature dishes from the pre-pandemic restaurant, but about 50 percent of the small plates and tasting menu dishes will be new, like a bahn mi savory eclair course he’s been fine-tuning.


“I’ve put in a lot of hard work here (at the Frying Dutchman),” Vuong said. “I’m excited to dedicate myself to something more formal that can reach a lot more people.”

“We have similar sensibilities about food and the Asian cuisines we both love, and we both have an understanding of fine dining, which I think is really important when you’re doing high-end Asian food,” Stadler said. “It’s not just whether the food is delicious. It’s really an entire experience you’re delivering.”

Frying Dutchman is the third food stall to close on the second floor of the Public Market this year, along with the Vietnamese kiosk Pho Huong and Dila’s Kitchen, which featured Turkish cuisine. A Cambodian restaurant, Khmer Kitchen, took over the Pho Huong and Dila’s spaces.


Fika, a takeout Scandinavian bakery, opens in Saco on Friday.

Fika, a new takeout Scandinavian bakery, launches in downtown Saco on Friday.

Located in a 250-square-foot space at 17 Storer St. formerly used as a taxi stand, Fika will be serving specialty coffee – particularly the style of light-roast, single-origin coffee popular in Scandinavia – from Massachusetts-based George Howell Coffee, co-owner Samuel Wiese said. Fika’s extensive selection of pastries includes financiers, tarts, galettes and pistachio-olive oil cake, as well as Scandinavian specialties like cardamom buns, lingonberry buns and Swedish caramel cookies.


Wiese’s partner, baker Kristina Alving, has extensive experience at Boston-area bakeries and was the head baker at Lil’s Cafe in Kittery and ran the bread department at Rosemont Market & Bakery. Wiese and Alving are both of Scandinavian heritage, and Wiese explained that the name Fika is a Swedish term for a rejuvenating midday coffee and pastry break.

Beyond pastries, Fika will offer a breakfast and lunch menu with dishes ranging from $4 to $13, including biscuit breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast, a yogurt bowl with granola and an ancient grain bowl with smoked salmon, greens and pickled vegetables.

Fika will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“We’re making food that really comes from the heart,” Wiese said, “and we’re very excited to share our food and be part of the growing Biddeford-Saco food scene and community.”


The 16th annual Kneading Conference, hosted by the Maine Grain Alliance, returns to Skowhegan this month.


The event, which draws thousands of grain lovers and bread buffs from around the country, is set for July 26-28 at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds. The conference leads up to the Maine Artisan Bread Fair, which is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fairgrounds on July 29.

The three-day conference features more than 22 in-person workshops and discussions of grains and baking geared toward home bakers, chefs, brewers, farmers and more. The format of the events is designed to have attendees educate each other about the art and science of growing and milling grains, baking artisan bread and pizza, and brewing beer.

The conference’s keynote speaker this year is Arizona-based baker Don Guerra, winner of the 2022 James Beard award for Outstanding Baker. Guerra founded Barrio Bread in Tucson, in 2009 to revive native and heritage grains and build a sustainable grain economy in southern Arizona.

The bread fair this year features more than 60 vendors of artisan bread, pizza, pastries and other locally produced foods, along with live music and workshops centered on naturally leavened doughnuts and wood-fired fougasse.

The fair is free to attend, while full conference passes are available on the Kneading Conference website for $375.



Little Pig, the fledgling Thai-style takeout restaurant in the former Figgy’s space on Congress Street, is moving from weekend pop-ups to staying open six days a week.

Co-owner Michael Mcdonnell said that starting Monday, Little Pig will be open Monday through Saturday from 12-8 p.m. Mcdonnell and his wife, co-owner and co-chef, Piyathida, have been open for weekend pop-ups at the location since June.

“We’ve been really well received and we’re hearing some wonderful feedback from people,” Mcdonnell said.

The couple – who have five kids, all of whom are helping with the venture – had originally planned on Little Pig being open on Sundays as well, in part to cater to customers who work in hospitality industry on one of their usual days off.

“But then we remembered we have a family, and we should probably give ourselves one day to spend with them,” Mcdonnell chuckled.

Comments are no longer available on this story