Finding Freedom A cook's story; remaking a life from scratch

Erin French

Book - 2021

"Long before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad's diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. This singular memoir-a classic American story-invites readers to Erin's corner of her belove...d Maine to share the real person behind the "girl from Freedom" fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin's life triumphant. In Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, and victories that have led her to the exact place she was always meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock-bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food-as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin's experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom"--

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York : Celadon Books 2021.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
viii, 292 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9781250312341
1250312345
Main Author
Erin French (author)
  • Hope. Bacon and ice cream ; Tapioca and kittens ; We were speeding, we were spoiled ; Days, nights, years in a diner ; Memories of a meatloaf ; The sound of Harleys ; The full boat
  • Unity. It better be blue ; Making a mother ; Singing for our supper ; Sawdust and shiny floors ; Amaranth and fried chicken ; Vinalhaven ; Layers of angst
  • Prospect. The triangle made of bricks ; The clinking of glasses, the flicker of candles ; Physical, mental, emotional ; Kicking, clawing, falling ; Nineteen steps ; Seventy-two ; Time to go, girl
  • Liberty. A gray day in Maine ; Who saved who? ; To the bat cave ; Bittersweet breakup brownies ; Potholes and pavement
  • Freedom. Leaves of three ; Take me back ; Starting from scratch ; Women of Waldo ; The awakening of a woman ; A house the color of strawberries ; There's no place like home.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

French, owner of the highly regarded Lost Kitchen Restaurant in a small Maine town called Freedom, candidly writes about becoming a successful chef and mother. The author takes us out of the kitchen to draw a picture of her growth and evolution into a personally and professionally successful woman in small-town New England. French's life is not all smooth sailing; a childhood of searching for parental approval while helping out in the family diner takes a sharp turn when French finds herself pregnant as a young woman. The next several years are punctuated by both successes and failures, culminating in a challenging struggle with addiction and overcoming the effects of a toxic marriage. The writing is frank and, particularly when related to her struggle to regain custody of her son, heart-wrenching. The redemptive arc of the final chapters is satisfying and will leave readers wanting to know more about the author's life and the band of restaurant workers she has brought together. VERDICT Openly sharing insight on overcoming difficult family dynamics and on struggling with addiction, French has written a standout chef memoir that will have readers turning the pages.—Rebecca Brody, Westfield State Univ., MA Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

In this affecting debut memoir, chef French unflinchingly chronicles the victories and failures that led to her establishing The Lost Kitchen, her renowned restaurant in Freedom, Maine. She shares vivid memories of growing up in Freedom, whether foraging alongside her grandparents or enjoying hot fudge sundaes at her father's diner. She artfully describes her growing passion for cooking, which began when she started helping out at the diner at age 12 and intensified after she dropped out of college due to an unplanned pregnancy. While waitressing as a single mom, she married the charming if troubled Tom, though the marriage predictably turned toxic: Tom had a drinking problem and was dismissive of French, and French was diagnosed with anxiety, was briefly committed to a psych ward, and got hooked on prescription drugs. During their messy divorce, French slowly began rebuilding her life with the help of her mother, friends, and food. Readers will root for French and will be fascinated by her efforts at survival, redemption, and rejuvenation. Notably heavier on insight and lighter on hubris than the average chef memoir, this will speak to both the brokenhearted and those with kitchen dreams of their own. Agent: Janis Donnaud, Janis Donnaud & Assoc. (Apr.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The award-winning chef from The Lost Kitchen in Maine shares the story of how she overcame severe anxiety, addiction and the challenges of single parenthood to become the proprietor of a world-class restaurant. 250,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Long before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad's diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. This singular memoir--a classic American story--invites readers to Erin's corner of her beloved Maine to share the real person behind the "girl from Freedom" fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin's life triumphant. In Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, andvictories that have led her to the exact place she was ever meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock-bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food--as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin's experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

**New York Times Bestseller**From Erin French, owner of the critically acclaimed The Lost Kitchen, a TIME world dining destination, a life-affirming memoir about survival, renewal, and finding a community to lift her upLong before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad’s diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. This singular memoir—a classic American story—invites readers to Erin's corner of her beloved Maine to share the real person behind the “girl from Freedom” fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin’s life triumphant. In Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, and victories that have led her to the exact place she was ever meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock-bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food—as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin’s experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom.