We’re Talking To...Annemarie Ahearn // Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm
We just hosted our first Food Book Fete of the season and we couldn’t think of a better person to kick things off than Annemarie Ahearn. The chef, cooking school founder, and author took inspiration from her wildly popular communal suppers and wrote a seasonal cookbook worth adding to your collection. Annemarie started Salt Water Farm, located on the Maine coast in Lincolnville, as a way to slow down the pace of life while getting closer to her food sources. The cooking school attracts students from around the world and operates from June through October, making the most of the seasonal offerings of land and sea. Annemarie shared with us some of her thoughts on food, family, and staying sane while entertaining a crowd.
Q: How was the cookbook writing process?
AA: Very enjoyable. I wrote it in real time, so in January I would watch the crows in the snowy compost as I put my thoughts down. It was kind of stream of consciousness and it was fun to do a menu-based, monthly celebration of seasonal foods. My dear friend Kristin Teig is a photographer, and she and I worked at our own pace to get the imagery.
Q: What was it like transitioning from a big city existence to a rural farm in Maine?
AA: I lived in New York City for 10 years and had no experience with farming, no idea how to grow things or raise animals. I just wanted my life to be more seasonal, spending my energy in the spring and summer while hibernating in the winter. And I wanted a lifestyle that was more fulfilling.
Q: There’s a romanticism in the idea of moving to the country and working on a farm, but it is also hard work. How do you do it all?
AA: I get a lot of support from my parents. They purchased the land in 1999 and let me build this life on their property in 2009. We’ve learned a lot in the 8 years since. My parents are very involved and always in the background helping out. We’ve learned about soil content, what grows well and what doesn’t, caring for farm animals... it was all new. The cooking school is a 60 to 80 hour a week job, but it doesn’t feel like work.
Q: Who are the people who are drawn to Salt Water Farm Cooking School? Do people already have kitchen skills or are most new to cooking.
AA: There’s a mix of people. Some have been to cooking schools all over the world and some admit they came because someone gave them a class as a gift. They enjoy the school equally and I love when one student teachers another. The methods are approachable no matter what your level of experience in the kitchen. The physical location is a huge draw since the farm is on a hill looking over Penobscot Bay.
Q: It sounds like you are always surrounded by a crowd. Do you ever feel like getting away and having a quiet meal to yourself?
AA: I prefer to be in the company of others! I love the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, all the noises, all the pots on the stove. I love feeding others and I want people to feel comfortable cooking for others too. It’s a way to appreciate the seasons and have good conversations with friends.”
We loved having Annemarie at Elder Hall to demonstrate some of her favorite recipes and to sign her new cookbook Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm.