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Eating My Way Through Kennebunkport -- 2

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KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine -- Typically, a world-class chef won't put a pot over anything that isn't a gas flame. But for four outstanding chefs last night, it was all wood-fired all the time.

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Wood Fired Maine, a dinner served in a flower-filled antique barn on the property of the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, an Andrew Wyeth scene of fields surrounding an estuary with nothing else but sky and grass around it, brought the chefs and their wood fired stoves to a dinner that was a new-this-year part of the Kennebunkport Festival.

Even the sugar in the exotic dessert had met a wood-fired stove.

Have you ever had caramelized condensed milk cake, rhubarb, white chocolate, iced goat milk and garden herbs for dessert?

That delicious mix of flavors and textures was the last of four never-to-be-forgotten courses served in the barn hung with lanterns and filled with beautifully set tables.

Pitchet Ong of New York City, author of "The Sweet Spot," was the chef of the dessert course. He was one of four notable chefs who brought their exceptional skills to this idyllic setting to cook for guests who had each paid $250 to benefit Share Our Strength Maine.

Justin Walker of Ogunquit's Arrows Restaurant fame, now creating the same buzz at Earth Restaurant in Kennebunkport, served a first course of burrata cheese, wood fired cherries, tea berry emulsion, oxalis (a green leaf), mustard seed, crunchy olives and pepper cress.

Brian Rae of Rialto in Cambridge, Massachusetts, brought little neck clams with nettle risotto, spring onion, and preserved lemon vinaigrette. Melissa Kelly of Primo Restaurant in Rockland, Maine, a James Beard Award-winning chef, cooked Maine rabbit.

And each course had a perfectly matched wine supplied by Pine State Trading.

Yes, this is decadent eating, but for a wonderful cause. The event benefitted Share Our Strength, which feeds hungry children. Just before diners sat down to the lovely tables, three representatives of Share Our Strength spoke. The first, the owner of Kennebunk Resort Collection, one of the evening's sponsors, told the group that in 11 days school in Maine would be finished for the summer, "and instead of the children happily waiting for that to happen, they are dreading it. They know it means they will be hungry," Tim Harrington said. "That's when free school breakfasts and lunches stop."

Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry, came from his home in Washington D.C. to thank the crowd for supporting this very important campaign, explaining that his organization is focused on expanding access to free meals in the summer and after school meals as well.

A cocktail reception at C.A. Smith Photography Studio began the evening, bringing together works by Art Collector Maine artists, among them two sculptures of the talented artist Sumner Winebaum, who lives in a self-designed home in York, Maine, that in itself is a spectacular piece of sculpture

The art reception and dinner were just two of some 40 events in this eight-day food and art festival that has grown over its 10-year history to become one of Maine's biggest attractions.

(Tomorrow: tapas and brews and music and the brand finale).

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