The barn at Laudholm
Participating chefs and staff
Headliners, from left: Melissa Kelly, Primo; Justin Walker, Earth; Pichet Ong, NYC pastry chef; Brian Rae, Rialto
The stunning table settings in the barn.
Flowers by Fleuriste
One of the tables
Tables were varied in size,
Late-afternoon light streams into the barn.
An apron was at each place setting
Chef Melissa Kelly cooks potatoes for her rabbit dish.
Guests were offered Champagne as they arrived.
Chef Jeff Landry of Native Maine Produce grills lamb belly.
Chef Justin Walker of Earth
Garnishes at the Bar
Ryan Patrick Morang of David's pours a Gardener's Tea cocktail.
The Gardener's Tea cocktail: Ingenium gin; muddled Thai basil and lime; lemon zest sun tea; blistered pepper garnish
Melissa Kelly's quail appetizer
Jeff Landry's lamb belly appetizer.
The beautiful grounds at Laudholm
Guests gather outside the barn.
Everyone finds a seat.
Chef Justin Walker's Earth burrata with wood-fired cherries, tea berry emulsion, oxalis, mustard seed, crunchy olives and peppercress.
Chef Brian Rae's little neck clams with nettle risotto, spring onion and preserved lemon vinaigrette
Chef Melissa Kelly's Maine rabbit dish
Chef Pichet Ong's caramelized condensed milk cake with rhubarb, white chocolate, iced goat milk and garden herbs.
All photos by Ted Axelrod
A new — and spectacular — event at this year’s Kennebunkport Festival, Wood Fired Maine, was blessed with perfect Maine weather last Friday evening. It had the further blessing of a stunning setting, Wells Reserve at Laudholm, a 19th century saltwater farm listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The resorted former dairy farm, with its many pale yellow buildings, is now the headquarters for the Wells Reserve, a a 2,250-acre National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Guests, sipping specialty cocktails or Champagne and nibbling hors d’oeuvres, strolled around the bucolic grounds savoring the venue, the warm breeze and the golden, early evening light. Because the event was also a fundraiser for Share Our Strength Maine there were a few, pre-dinner speeches from local chair John Woods, Tim Harrington of event sponsor the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, and Share Our Strength founder Billy Shore.
The excellent, four-course dinner was prepared by an all-star line up of chefs, including Justin Walker of Earth in Kennebunkport, Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland, Brian Rae of Rialto in Boston, and Pichet Ong, author of “The Sweet Spot.” Cocktails and wines were under the expert guidance of Ryan Patrick Morang from David’s Restaurants and Danielle Walker of Earth managed the superb service staff.
We’ve been to many special galas and dinners, but this one was truly memorable for the extraordinary food and drink, the fun we had at our table with six people we had just met, and the generosity of all those who contributed to Share Our Strength Maine’s mission to help feed hungry children in Maine.
To say it was a magical evening may sound cliche, but that’s exactly what it was.