Participants get hands-on experience at bread-baking workshop during the 2021 Kneading Conference. The conference is back next month in Skowhegan. Photo courtesy Jesse Cottingham Photography

Attention grainiacs and bread lovers, the Kneading Conference returns to Skowhegan for a 15th year at the end of July.

Hosted by the Maine Grain Alliance, the conference is scheduled for July 25-30 at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds. The Kneading Conference sets itself apart from other industry gatherings by focusing on artisan grain economies, and offering a variety of workshops demonstrating best grain uses across an array of disciplines.

Nine virtual workshops will take place during all five days of the event. The in-person conference takes place July 28-29, including dozens of workshops and culminating in the Maine Artisan Bread Fair on July 30. The fair will feature more than 50 vendors, live music, a kids area, and workshops focused on baking pizza and integrating local, stone-ground grains into home baking.

The conference’s keynote speaker this year is Roxana Jullipat, a Los Angeles-based baker who worked at legendary California restaurants including the former Campanile, Bastide and Lucques, as well as AOC. Jullipat opened Friends & Family bakery in 2017, with a focus on ancient grains and seasonal offerings.

Since the first Kneading Conference in 2007, the event has annually drawn thousands of home bakers, farmers, brewers, chefs and cooks, along with grain researchers, maltsters and wood-fired oven fans. Attendees educate one another about the art and science of growing and milling grains, baking artisan bread and brewing beer.

A selection of conference passes, ranging from $50 to $375, are available at the Kneading Conference website.


The Ugly Duckling bakery coming to Danforth

Portland chefs Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti, the James Beard Award-nominated owners of Chaval and the former Piccolo, plan to open a bakery and cafe in the city’s West End this summer.

The Ugly Duckling will be located at 246 Danforth St. in a space that formerly hosted PrintCraft. Lopez hopes to open by the second week of August.

The new cafe will feature a 15-seat horseshoe coffee bar, with additional seating at tables in the front of the store. In the evenings, The Ugly Duckling will be available for use as an event or party space, Lopez said.

The specialty of the house will be buttermilk English muffins in various flavors, to pair with house-made jams and preserves (also available for retail sale), as well as tarts, mousses, custards, trocaderos (a chocolate-cream pastry) – with vegan and gluten-free options as well – and breakfast items on the morning menu. The cafe will serve espresso drinks and drip coffee from Speckled Ax.

The afternoon lunch menu includes sandwiches, tinned fish and charcuterie, along with wine and cocktail service. The Ugly Duckling will be open seven days, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Lopez said she and Sansonetti will institute a pay-forward system at The Ugly Duckling, to which customers can donate. Lopez said the pay-forward money collected can be used by any customer unable to pay full price for their order.

Lopez explained that she and Sansonetti want the entire community to be able to enjoy The Ugly Duckling. “And even if you can’t afford it, you can come too. But I don’t want people to feel ashamed or guilty for using the pay-forward system.”

Beer garden to open in Old Orchard Beach

Portland-based Definitive Brewing Company opens its new Old Orchard Beach beer garden on Friday.

The Definitive Beer Garden is located at 28 East Grand Ave., the site of the former restaurant The Landmark, which closed this year after the owners decided to retire after 26 years in business, as they told Saco Bay News. Definitive CEO Michael Rankin said the new beer garden can host as many as 300 customers, all outdoors.

Rankin said Definitive made substantial renovations to the property, including adding bathrooms and building a deck with an outdoor bar. Customers also can order food prepared in-house in the newly renovated kitchen and outdoor grill. Rankin did not disclose specific menu items, but said guests can expect American barbecue-type fare.


Definitive’s flagship property is in Portland, and it has a tasting room and small brewery in Kittery, and a restaurant at Sunday River Resort. The Old Orchard Beach beer garden will be open seven days a week through Labor Day, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday, and noon to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

The Buxton Common closes

On its fourth anniversary in business, The Buxton Common restaurant closed permanently last week, according to a post on its Facebook page.

“Though, in the future, we will continue some limited catering, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our regular dinner and takeaway service,” the post read, noting that June 24 would be the last day of service at the restaurant. The post did not elaborate on why the restaurant has closed, and despite repeated attempts we were unable to reach owner Max Brody for comment.

Two other longtime area restaurants were forced to close last week, both of them because of understaffing. Cafe Miranda in Rockland and Parker’s Restaurant in Portland both announced on Facebook that they would no longer be open after June 25 because they were unable to hire enough staff.

New cocktail and dessert lounge opening in Dover-Foxcroft


All the buzz in Dover-Foxcroft seems to be about TAP 62, its new bar and lounge, opening in July.

Located at 920 West Main St., TAP 62 is the second business in town for owner Tejai Lee, who also opened Chew 62 on North Street in December 2020. At TAP 62, Lee will offer local craft and classic beers on-tap, upscale cocktails and boozy shakes, along with appetizers and decadent desserts.

“This isn’t a typical bar,” Lee said. “This is an inviting lounge with comfortable leather seating and coffee tables, warm lighting, and a separate room with a sectional for larger parties. It will be the perfect place for a night-cap or a late night sugar fix.”

TAP 62 opens for business on July 1, with a Grand Opening Celebration on July 5 from 5-7 p.m. and a ribbon cutting at 6 p.m.

“The locals are so excited for the opening of TAP 62,” said Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce Director Denise Buzzelli. “It has great vibes: calm and classy, even intimate – unique to the area.”

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