Jared Rudnick at left and Lina Mamut plan to open The Chametz, a fine dining restaurant in New Vineyard. They are seen at Sugarloaf earlier this year. Submitted photo

NEW VINEYARD — Partners Jared Rudnick and Lina Mamut have purchased property off Griffin Mount Road and started raising produce as part of long term plans that re-imagine how restaurants operate.

Through The Chametz Collective, their plan is to provide Michelin-level dining experiences using a co-ownership business model that provides a path to financial security for community members.

They have launched a fundraising campaign and have events planned 4-8 p.m. on the next two Saturdays, Dec. 16 and 23, at Cork and Rind, Sugarloaf Village Center, 9003 Main St., Carrabassett Valley, to introduce their concept and provide samples of what will be served at their restaurant.

The Chametz [pronounced haa-metz] means Not Kosher in Yiddish, which is an irreverent nod to our Ashkenazi Jewish roots,” Mamut wrote to The Franklin Journal on Dec. 6. “We’re going to be serving all the local pork, lobster and shellfish! It also is a reference to the fact that even though things have been done a certain way before that centers profits for owners over sustainability for the community and workers, we don’t need to do it that way in the future. Not only are both Jared and I Jewish, but I am also a first-generation immigrant, nonbinary, queer and trans.”

In a phone interview with The Franklin Journal on Tuesday, Dec. 12, Mamut shared further details about their goals.

At Cork and Rind a complimentary seven course tasting will be available for free to community members, Mamut said. People will get introduced to the kinds of food that will be offered at The Chametz and  hopefully help financially support the project, they stated.


There were several factors in choosing New Vineyard for The Chametz, Mamut noted. “The first parameter is we wanted to be close enough to Sugarloaf, Saddleback, Rangeley Lakes where we could attract folks for those markets as well as the local community like in Farmington,” they explained. “It was the half way point between all of those places. There’s not a ton of options in terms of property and we were looking for places that had existing structures, hopefully existing infrastructures as well, like electricity so we wouldn’t have to start from scratch.”

An artist’s rendition shows what the new restaurant in phase two of The Chametz,, located in the Carrabassett Valley geographical area will look like Submitted photo

They purchased property where the Swensons built a home and lived for about 50 years before selling it to the local game warden who sold it after being there about five years, Mamut said. “All the work on the property is pretty remarkable,” they noted. “There is a big addition attached to the kitchen which we are converting into the restaurant. It will be about 20 seats to start out with in phase one of our concept.”

The property comes with quite a bit of land and this past summer a fully biodynamic living soil farm was started, Mamut stated.

When asked about their KICKSTARTER website referring to ‘The Chametz restaurant in the Carrabassett Valley’ and if that would be confusing, Mamut said, New Vineyard is in the geographical Carrabassett Valley, not the town. “We were debating what to refer it to,” they noted. “Frankly, a lot of our target market will be coming up from Portland, Boston, New York and major East coast cities. They are absolutely not familiar with New Vineyard. We weighed the pros and cons and landed on saying we are in the geographical area of Carrabassett Valley.”

Rudnick is the chef de cuisine and agricultural lead for The Chametz, Mamut said. “He has a lot of experience in biodynamic living soil agriculture,” they noted. “We are looking to expand the notion of what sustainability is. Not just the micro ecosystem but thinking about the macro ecosystem that it actually inhabits.”

Raised beds are being used to be able to control the different inputs and nothing had to be added this year, Mamut stated. ‘It was a wetter season than usual so no additional water was needed,” they noted.


With the restaurant not yet open, produce harvested this year was used in recipe development, Mamut said. With her data science background, records of what did well in that microclimate were maintained and the data can be manipulated in the future, they noted.

The farm is focusing on heirloom varieties that could become extinct in the next 20 years, Mamut said. Fermentation and preservation techniques were used, a lot of things growing throughout the season cross utilized, they stated.

A cider fermenting vat is being used for pears and apples harvested from the property’s orchard to make some alcoholic drinks, Mamut said. A partnership is underway with a local brandy distillery that is starting up, they noted.

Some wines and other alcoholic beverages will be sourced from outside Maine, with some coming from New England, Mamut stated.

Mamut works for Target in supply chain logistics and is taking learnings from that to assist other restaurants. Sugarloaf sources foods that can come from anywhere in the United States or internationally, there are Maine farmers that could be supplying their needs, they noted.

“I would love to create not just ecosystems that were able to source a lot of things from the local community but also assist in helping other restaurants, other folks,” they said.


Mamut said they have asked Melissa Shea, owner of The Mountain Farm in New Vineyard, to start growing some produce for The Chametz. Meat products are coming from the Sillanpaas in New Vineyard, Depot Street Meats in Jay, and Cold Spring Ranch in North New Portland, they noted. The goal is to source all needed food ingredients [including seafood] within 100 miles of The Chametz, they stated.

Mamut and Rudnick hosted four volunteers from World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms [WWOOF] this summer. All were from outside the area, some will be coming back this winter, Mamut said.

On Wednesday The Franklin Journal spoke with volunteer Aaron Olson.

“I first met Lina and Jared in April,” he said. “I was their first WWOOF volunteer and it was my first time with the program so I was a little bit anxious to go and visit a new place but they welcomed me with open arms into their home.”

It was clear from the beginning how passionate they were for their project and their vision for The Chametz, Olson stated. “I remember even from the first time when we were talking over Zoom how much thought both Lina and Jared had put into their vision of making it an amazing dining experience for their community in Maine and also protecting the people that work for them, the people that bring them the resources, vegetables and everything they need to make their food. As well as like caring for their employees and the people that were contributing to their project.”

While Olson’s relationship was as a volunteer, he felt like he was one of their first employees. “I felt really connected to them, valued,” he stated. “They took into account my experiences from where I had grown up working on a small farm with my family,” he noted. “They were eager to take advantage of the things I felt I could share with them skills-wise.”


Every week there was a meeting to talk about how things were going, Olson said. “They were really focused on making sure I was getting the value out of our arrangement,” he noted. “I was not feeling exploited or anything. It was just really nice to have folks that were interested in making sure the experience as an employee or volunteer was a good one.”

It was cool to see Mamut’s and Rudnick’s relationship to the community, Olson said. “I got to see them reach out to their neighbors the Sillanpaas and help them harvest and turn some of their crops into food that they then shared back with them,” he noted. “I saw Lina involved directly in the Pride event in Farmington, both Lina and Jared involved in their New Vineyard community as well.

“I think they are great stewards of the community and are trying to give back as much as they can.”

The long term goal for The Chametz is to be a fully worker owned collective, Mamut stated. Employees that want to will be part of a union and have collective bargaining rights, within a couple of years become co-owners, they noted. Eventually they hope to help other restaurants in Maine and beyond achieve a similar model.

When The Chametz opens, it will provide two seatings at set times for the evening meal. As a prix fixe [French term meaning “fixed or set price”] restaurant the menu will consist of a pre-selected menu offering a set number of courses at a single rate.

Mamut said it will start with about eight courses then as the restaurant ramps up will offer 12-15 courses. After establishing itself in the community, the goal is to purchase property within 20 miles of the current location in order to expand, they noted. In addition to a larger restaurant there will be tiny homes for people to extend their visit plus cross country and snowshoe trails, they noted.


Phase two will offer an all inclusive experience with accommodations, recreation and meals, Mamut said. High tea in the afternoon and breakfast options are planned, they noted.

As of Wednesday evening, a little more than $36,000 of the $150,000 fundraising goal had been pledged. The fundraiser ends Dec. 30 and if the goal isn’t reached, all moneys are returned, Mamut said. If that should happen, the partners will use their own equity, then do another KICKSTARTER in January, they said.

“I know we have a lofty goal,” Mamut stated. They have worked with the food industry, and the big takeaway is that it’s very focused on profits and making sure that investors are going to turn a profit on their investment. Because The Chametz is a collective, is not taking external investment for equity, the workers that are actually working will benefit and become the owners, they noted.

“We have big dreams,” Mamut added.

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