Topic: Profiles

Lee Skawinski, Cinque Terre and Vignola | Portland, Maine Restaurants

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Chef Lee Skawinski of Cinque Terre and Vignola, and his partner, Dan Kary, are so committed to local foods that they farm most of the produce on their menus themselves.

Lee Skawinski, Cinque Terre & Vignola

Lee Skawinski, Cinque Terre & Vignola

Robbins, Heath

Chef Lee Skawinski and his partner, Dan Kary, are so committed to local foods that they farm most of the produce on their menus themselves. “We support as many local guys as we can, from rabbits to chickens to lamb, because we can, and because it’s a better product,” Lee explains. “Part of being a cook in our restaurants is to come to the farm and pick. It makes the connection to what we cook more profound.” This time of year, Lee says, “I’m like a kid at Christmas, waiting for asparagus and peas. They have a vibrancy that can’t be replicated or easily described.”

Lee puts the food, not his ego, at the center of the plate. During the off season, he travels to Europe to underscore “the importance of quality ingredients, taste wine, and pick up a few ideas.” At Cinque Terre the menu offerings are refined Italian classics; at Vignola, dishes hail from the great Mediterranean wine countries of Italy, Spain, and France.

CINQUE TERRE. 36 Wharf St. 207-347-6154; cinqueterremaine.com

VIGNOLA. 10 Dana St. 207-772-1330; vignolamaine.com

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