Chef and owner Erin French prepares food at The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

Six years after she opened her nationally renowned restaurant in a quiet corner of Waldo County, Erin French, owner of The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, is set to star in a new TV docuseries produced by famed interior designing couple Chip and Joanna Gaines.

“The Lost Kitchen” will premiere next year on the Magnolia Network, the Gaines’ new standalone TV channel, which will replace the channel currently known as the DIY Network. The show will be among 10 brand new offerings on the revamped channel, which will also feature a new season of the Gaines’ popular show, “Fixer Upper.”

The show will follow French and her restaurant crew as they source ingredients from Maine farmers, fishermen and purveyors, maintain and decorate the dining room, and create a reservation list from the thousands of postcards they receive each year from all over the world. The only way to get a reservation at The Lost Kitchen is to send a postcard and hope to be chosen.

As with all restaurant owners in Maine, French had to shut down her restaurant in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Though she doesn’t typically open for the season until later in the spring, French has nevertheless chosen to stay closed this summer, since, as she said in a video posted yesterday by the Magnolia Network, masks and social distancing simply do not jibe with the experience she hopes to give her guests when they come to dine.

French said she remains optimistic, despite losing, essentially, an entire restaurant season to the pandemic.

“I feel really fortunate that I grew up in Maine, because I think there’s something about winter, where you know there’s always going to be spring on the other side,” she said. “I’ve always had it in me to think of spring, and know that you’re going to get through it.”

In lieu of having the dining room open, however, French has taken the opportunity to try several new things at her restaurant, including offering prix fixe outdoor lunches, and starting a farmer’s market, hosted outside at the Mill at Freedom Falls, the restored 1834 gristmill where the restaurant is located. Buyers purchase their food from the market online, and then come to the restaurant to pick it up.

French is also busy building several “glamping” style cabins on site, which next year guests will be able to rent to complete their experience after they dine at the restaurant. Those additions to the restaurant will be featured on the new TV show.

The Lost Kitchen typically closes for the season in mid-October, but French said she hopes to host some “romantic winter dinners” if she and her crew feel like they could reopen later this year or over the winter.

A specific launch date for Magnolia Network has not been announced, though its website says to expect it in 2021.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.