Erin French, celebrated as a chef and proprietor of the Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine, is also a two-time author, known for her books “Finding Freedom” and “The Lost Kitchen Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom.” However, her culinary journey began in her formative years, where her passion for food was cultivated under the guidance of her father.

Growing Up in a Diner

Growing up in the quaint town of Freedom, Erin French’s father, Jeffery Richardson, owned a diner just beyond its limits. In this close-knit community of fewer than 800 residents, Erin’s formative years were immersed in the diner’s ambiance. She actively contributed, engaging in a myriad of tasks, from dishwashing to waiting tables and flipping pancakes. The experience shaped her palate for uncomplicated, heartwarming meals crafted from fresh ingredients and infused with a touch of affection.

Reflecting on her childhood, Erin fondly reminisces about the warm and nutmeg-laced donuts from the diner. In an interview with People, she shared, “My whole childhood is filled with memories there. I remember the nutmeg-laced donuts, so warm and crunchy — I can still taste it.”

Biography Host notes that Erin’s father, characterized by heavy drinking and a volatile temperament, stood in contrast to her accommodating and loving mother, Deanna Richardson. Erin’s sister, Nina, was also part of the diner’s bustling activities.

Leaving and Returning Home

Departing from Freedom, Erin pursued a medical education at Northeastern University in Boston. However, after two years, she made the life-altering decision to discontinue her studies when she became pregnant at the age of 21 by a high school boyfriend. Returning to her roots in Freedom with her son, Jaim, Erin found solace and inspiration in her parents’ kitchen.

Immersing herself in culinary pursuits, Erin commenced hosting clandestine suppers and gatherings in her apartment, quickly amassing a devoted following enchanted by her culinary creations.

In 2009, Erin realized her dream of opening her first restaurant, the Farm House. However, the venture faced adversity, culminating in its loss in 2013 amidst a tumultuous divorce and a challenging custody battle for her son. Concurrently, Erin confronted personal struggles, contending with addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs, ultimately seeking rehabilitation to embark on the path to sobriety.

Finding Freedom and the Lost Kitchen

In 2014, Erin experienced a rejuvenation as she inaugurated the Lost Kitchen within an aged mill in Freedom. Collaborating with her family and friends, she meticulously refurbished the space, conceiving a menu that celebrated the bountiful local produce and seafood of Maine. Uniquely, Erin implemented a reservation system that required guests to send postcards to secure a table.

The Lost Kitchen swiftly garnered widespread acclaim, earning enthusiastic praise from both critics and patrons. It achieved prestigious recognition, being named one of the world’s greatest places by Time Magazine and acknowledged as one of the 12 restaurants worth global travel for an exceptional dining experience by Bloomberg.

Amidst her professional triumphs, Erin also discovered love anew, exchanging vows with Michael Dutton, a skilled furniture maker, in 2018. Her culinary journey and profound connection with food found expression in two books, and she further shared her story through the Magnolia Network series titled “The Lost Kitchen.”

Reflecting on her culinary roots, Erin attributes her enduring passion for food and cooking to her father. In an interview with CBS News, she fondly remarked, “He taught me how to make an omelet. He taught me how to make a pie crust. He taught me how to appreciate food.”

In essence, Erin French’s father remains not only the architect of her culinary success but also the keeper of her heart.