LEWISTON — Restaurateurs and chefs from the Twin Cities will be well-represented this week at the annual Chef Summit hosted by Taste Maine’s Future.

In fact, the food scene in Lewiston has received enough attention that downtown Lewiston will be featured as a trending area of Maine, giving the city its own “food town” panel Thursday during the weeklong event.

Panelists will include well-known faces in Lewiston, such as Luke Livingston, founder of Baxter Brewing Co.; Thomas Ardia, mixologist and partner at Sonder & Dram; Kate Landry, owner of Fish Bones American Grill; and Allen Smith, owner of Forage Market. 

Taste Maine’s Future splits this year’s summit between O’Maine Studios in Portland and the Jordan Hotel at Sunday River, where the gathering of Maine’s culinary and beverage industries culminates in a “Grand Tasting” event. 

For Michael Dostie and the Downtown Lewiston Association, the inclusion of Lewiston and its popular dining and beer options is exciting, but it’s also partly an acknowledgement of years of momentum in Lewiston’s food culture. 

Dostie, chairman of the association and the moderator of Thursday’s panel, said that over the past several years, the culture around food has “fundamentally changed” in Maine and that he’s “seen the effects firsthand here in downtown Lewiston.” 

Dostie owns J. Dostie Jewelers on Lisbon Street, along a section of downtown that has seen a revitalization because of places such as the former Fuel restaurant and Forage Market, known statewide for its bagels. 

“Food has played a significant role in the continuing revitalization of this district,” he said, adding that local restaurants have inspired investments in many new local businesses. “So, it makes perfect sense that an event like this would develop and by extension, that there would be interest in downtown Lewiston.” 

The Chef Summit, founded in 2016, has grown in prominence and now attracts James Beard Award-winning chefs for workshops, panel discussions, chef demos, networking and tastings. 

The panel discussion featuring Lewiston will focus on how the food and beverage industry has changed, improved and shifted downtown Lewiston’s economy. The panel will convene from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, at O’Maine Studios in Portland.

In addition to Thursday’s panel, some of the panelists will have a hand in the rest of the week’s events. 

Paul Landry, chef and co-owner of Fish Bones, will take part in the summit’s “SashiME Rising” on Wednesday, preparing Irish whiskey-cured salmon gravlax for more than 200 attendees. Gravlax is a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar and dill.

According to the event description, SashiME Rising aims to showcase “sustainable and emerging Maine-produced farm and sea products with a cross-section of innovative chefs.”

At the summit’s largest and final event, the “Grand Tasting” at Sunday River, Ardia will be the mixologist for the crowd of about 250. Event organizers refer to the Grand Tasting as “The Foodie Event of the Year.”

Dostie said for the downtown association, taking part in the summit is “a phenomenal opportunity” to show off how the industry has led to positive changes in Lewiston that “are opening doors for businesses to build and thrive here.” 

“Food and drink are no longer complements to entertainment, they are entertainment and it’s important that we not only recognize that, but we embrace it,” he said. 

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Kate and Paul Landry, owners of Fish Bones American Grill in Lewiston, will take part in the 2019 Chef Summit in Portland this week alongside other well-known Lewiston food and beverage businesses. (Sun Journal file photo 2012)

In order to encourage support from the Lewiston-Auburn community, the Chef Summit team created a special discount code for 20 percent off Chef Summit ticket options. Just enter LEW1 at checkout when purchasing tickets.

For Chef Summit info, schedule and tickets, go to: https://www.tastemaine.com/chef-summit/


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