The latest cuisine to join the growing lineup at the restaurant at 1492 State St. in Veazie will draw from the German, Polish and Hungarian goodies that Vanessa Klein’s grandparents made when she was growing up.
Edelweiss Cafe will start serving up delicacies like schnitzel, chicken paprikash, goulash, bratwurst, kugel and matzo ball soup from the Veazie kitchen incubator space on May 24, and for dinner every Wednesday afterward.
Klein of Newburgh joins five other people who are cooking world cuisines part time in the tiny restaurant building, including Korean, Nigerian, Cajun, Cuban and Filipino foods.
Klein and her husband, Evan Mooney, education professors at the University of Maine and Husson University, respectively, live off the grid on a small farm in Newburgh, and plan to use their own vegetables as well as produce from local farmers in the recipes.
Klein said she’s been cooking since she was 12 years old and was given an American Girls cookbook for Christmas, which got her hooked.
“I have made a carrot soup recipe from that cookbook for every family holiday since I was 12. I have been experimenting and creating in the kitchen ever since,” she said. “I love looking through cookbooks, researching recipes, recreating dishes I’ve experienced as a kid and while traveling, and flexing my creative muscles in the kitchen.”
Klein’s family has roots in Germany, Poland and Hungary, and though they are of Jewish ancestry, she said that much of their cultural and culinary traditions were lost when they immigrated to the United States before World War II.
Klein said she is trying to reconnect with her Jewish roots through food.
“It was always really special when my grandma would make German dishes like rouladen, chicken fricassee and potato pancakes,” she said. “When I research some of the family recipes and traditions, it is amazing how many hail back to our Jewish background, especially on my dad’s side. I am hoping to reconnect with those traditions as well as with the Jewish community. I just feel like it is a part of me that I want to get back.”
Edelweiss Cafe will open on Wednesday, May 24, with takeout hours between 4:30 and 7 p.m. Like most of the other restaurants at 1492 State, Edelweiss will be takeout only, though she is considering offering lunch hours later on in the summer or fall. People can order dishes through Facebook or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rotating array of restaurants at 1492 State St. in Veazie was started by Eastern Maine Community College professor Changsu Kristopher Lee, who began Korean Dad, his part-time restaurant, there in May 2021. He still offers up Korean classics like bibimbap, japchae and bulgogi on Tuesdays for takeout.
Since then, he’s added Cajun food from Ca C’est Bon on Sundays, Nigerian food from African Cuisine on Thursdays, Filipino food from Kusina on Fridays, and Cuban food from Lilia’s Cuban Cafe on Saturdays.
Lee said that it’s unrealistic for many people who want to start a restaurant to embark on the expensive, time-consuming, difficult work of building and opening a full-service restaurant, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars in start-up money alone — an expense that’s even higher today due to rising costs of rent, energy and food.
“Here, we have a commercial licensed kitchen that’s all set up for takeout, and all you have to do is get your own license and bring your food and your skills to the table. If for whatever reason you decide it’s not for you, you’re not out $50,000. You’re not in major debt,” said Lee, in a January BDN interview. “And if it works, then you’re way better equipped to move on to something larger.”