Who are Todd French and Erin French?

The names Todd French and Erin French have been prominent in the culinary world in recent years. They were initially known as the former husband and wife team behind the inaugural Lost Kitchen, a renowned restaurant in Belfast, Maine, established in 2011.

Unfortunately, their marriage and business collaboration took a sour turn, resulting in a contentious divorce in 2013. This left Erin French without a home, job, and custody of her son. How did this situation unfold? And what steps did Erin French take to recover and launch a new Lost Kitchen in her hometown of Freedom, Maine?

The Beginning of a Dream

In 2006, Todd French and Erin French crossed paths; Todd, a designer and builder, and Erin, a waitress at her family’s diner in Freedom. Their love blossomed, leading to a swift marriage. Erin, with a passion for cooking and hosting dinners, transformed their Belfast apartment’s living room into an intimate eatery named the Lost Kitchen. The name stemmed from its discreet location, known only through word of mouth.

Erin crafted seasonal dishes using locally sourced, fresh ingredients, while Todd managed the design and logistics. The Lost Kitchen swiftly garnered a devoted following, earning acclaim from both patrons and critics. Erin’s culinary prowess even earned her an invitation to host a dinner at the esteemed James Beard House in New York City in 2012, a remarkable achievement for a self-taught chef.

The Downfall of a Marriage

Despite the outward appearance of success, a darker reality loomed behind the scenes. Operating a restaurant, particularly for Erin, proved to be a taxing and challenging endeavor. Struggling with depression and anxiety, she found solace in prescription drugs like Xanax and Ambien to manage insomnia and panic attacks.

Erin faced isolation and discontent within her marriage as Todd’s behavior became increasingly controlling and abusive. Resentful of Erin’s rising success and public recognition, Todd accused her of infidelity. Taking command of the restaurant’s finances, he concealed their debts and expenditures from Erin.

The breaking point arrived in 2013 when Erin sought rehabilitation for her substance abuse issues. During her absence, Todd covertly shuttered the Lost Kitchen, altered the apartment locks, initiated divorce proceedings, and aimed for full custody of Jaim, Erin’s son from a previous relationship. Todd’s actions resulted in Erin losing everything – her residence, business, finances, and custody of her child.

The Rebirth of a Chef

Devastated by Todd’s betrayal, Erin found herself at a low point, contemplating suicide. However, she summoned the strength to fight for her life. Returning to Freedom, she sought refuge with her supportive parents, gradually rebuilding her emotional and financial stability.

Reconnecting with her son, who had resided with his biological father during the divorce, Erin gradually rediscovered her culinary passion. Hosting pop-up dinners in an Airstream trailer on her parents’ property, she embarked on a journey of healing.

In 2014, Erin learned of a retired investment banker renovating an old gristmill in Freedom, seeking a tenant for the ground floor. Seeing this as an opportunity for a fresh start, she persuaded the owner to let her rent the space. Erin transformed it into a warm and rustic dining room with an open kitchen, accommodating up to 40 guests per night.

The new Lost Kitchen debuted in July 2014, featuring a unique reservation system relying on handwritten letters sent by mail. The demand soared, with Erin receiving thousands of letters from across the globe. Media outlets, including The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, Martha Stewart Living Magazine, and CBS News Sunday Morning, recognized her culinary prowess.

In 2017, Erin published her first cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom Maine.” In 2020, she ventured into television with her own show on Amazon Prime Video, titled “The Lost Kitchen.”

The Present and Future of Todd French and Erin French

Todd French has continued his career as a designer and builder. Unfortunately, information about whether he remarried remains unknown. On the other hand, Erin found happiness in her second marriage to Michael Dutton, whom she met on a dating site in 2017. They tied the knot on August 24, 2018, and although they don’t have children together, Erin maintains a close relationship with her 18-year-old son Jaim, who is pursuing studies at the University of Maine.

Erin French has discovered peace and joy in her new life, emphasizing an appreciation for simplicity and gratitude. Despite the challenges, she has forgiven Todd for past actions and wishes him well, hoping he has found his own path to healing and moving forward.

A beacon of inspiration for those overcoming hardships, Erin French exemplifies the resilience, creativity, and love that can transform challenges into opportunities. As a talented and passionate chef, she has not only built a unique and successful restaurant celebrating Maine’s beauty but has also become a remarkable woman turning loss into gain.