Assistant baker and Telstar senior Kyra Rose-Espinoza will head to Johnson and Wales Culinary School in the fall. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — Last summer for three days each week, Kyra Rose-Espinoza of Albany Township started her work day at 9 a.m. at Gemini Cafe in Bethel and ended it across the street at Le Mu Eats at 9 p.m., taking just an hour off in between.

“It was worth it. I loved them both, I was torn,” said the future Johnson and Wales University (JWU) culinary student.

On April 27, Rose-Espinoza, a Telstar High School senior, was awarded the River Fund Maine 2024 college scholarship of up to $20,000 per year. At JWU in Providence Rhode Island she will pursue a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts.

Of her Main Street-Bethel-work-life, Rose-Espinoza says,  “All aspects of culinary interest me, cooking and baking … I liked the speed [of Le Mu],” where she worked on the line.  “[At Gemini], I liked the attention to detail. I also have a major sweet tooth.”

Because both restaurants have an open kitchen, she liked seeing people enjoying the food she made, too.

She said Le Mu, owner, Sav Sengsavang taught her it is all right to make mistakes in the kitchen, “you’re learning, you are a kid, let yourself figure it out,” he’d tell her.


At Gemini she learned to slow down.

At both places she learned community.

Part of the community she found was evident at her Telstar basketball games, where Rose-Espinoza had her own cheering section. Her co-workers, past and present, from Le Mu and Gemini came to hoot for her. At her her senior game they held signs, “Yes, Chef!” and “Shoot a three [pointer] for Chip [her cat]”

While basketball brought out her fans, field hockey is her game, she said.  She hopes to join the field hockey team at JWU. She is number three in her class and has received academic recognition from Mountain Valley winning MVC All Academic awards for basketball and field hockey.  She was awarded MVC’s field hockey First Team, 2024, for her athletic prowess.

Besides baking

Rose-Espinoza’s  parents are Jessica Rose-Espinoza and Andres Espinoza. As a child, she watched her father, also a chef, graduate from culinary school, “with the big hat. Then there are pictures of me wearing the big hat,” she said.


She has three brothers, too: Tristan, 21, Luka, 15, and Finn, 7. “Our relationship is really important to me,” she said of her brother Tristan, who she goes to for help with history homework and, “to talk to about anything.” She said she likes that they, “will be friends forever.”

Besides baking and sports, she reads non-fiction, historical stories, and memoirs like, “Glass Castle” and “Angela’s Ashes,” two books she was assigned for Dr. [Melissa] Poston’s Telstar English class. Two other teachers, Elke Blauss and Carrie Lynch,  “have been my cheerleaders this year and I love them so much,” she said.

Her friends have told her she is brutally honest, “I keep them in line. I’m going to be their Mom in a way … It’s all from a place of ‘I care about you and I want you to succeed.’ ” she said.

Rose-Espinoza moved here from Arizona at age nine. Now, at age 18, she has lived in Maine as long as she had lived in Arizona. She calls this place in time pivotal.

“I think I have finally realized that this place is going to be home for the rest of my life. I don’t think Arizona is considered that anymore – respectfully  …

“All my friends are talking about that this is our central point,” she said.

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