: feeding ME is a project we started in 2012 that explores the independent, entrepreneurial spirit of Maine by interviewing local food purveyors and artisans. With environmental portraits and interviews we will tell the story of the individuals who are behind Maine's local food community. It includes markets, restaurants, farms, Bed and Breakfasts, etc. To view more photography work by henrY Leiter Foto please visit the portfolio section: www.henryfoto.com
Meet Steve Corry, former brewmaster, and current owner of Five Fifty-Five and Petite Jacqueline restaurants in Portland, Maine. Steve is an award winning chef, a mentor, and like any good teacher, a charismatic storyteller. After living in Napa Valley, California and experiencing the local food scene there, Steve and his wife Michelle decided to open their own restaurant in Portland, Maine. Steve is an avid outdoorsmen who enjoys trail running, skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, and hiking with his dog and family. In his words, “having lived in Maine, I wouldn't move, I'm stuck here.”
Some of Steve's earliest memories are foraging for mushrooms with his grandmother on the family farm in Ireland. She taught him which mushrooms to harvest and showed him how to create a meal with the local ingredients. Unbeknownst to Steve, these lessons from his grandmother would inspire him to open a restaurant and later become a celebrated chef.
In the early days of Five Fifty-Five, Steve would push a two wheeled cart down the street to the Monument Square Farmer's Market and gather up as much local product as the cart could handle. Steve used the seasonal ingredients to create the, “New-New England Cuisine”, Five Fifty-Five is known for. In order to feature local products year round, Steve pickles and cans a surplus of ingredients. When you see tomato on the menu in the middle of winter, it is a locally sourced tomato.
Steve speaks of his employees as though they are family. He encourages creative input from all of his staff, and they collaborate in the creation of new menu items. Frequently, the staff at Five Fifty-Five butcher an entire animal together as an educational and team building experience. Mentoring new employees is vital to the success of his businesses. Steve wants his employees to be as passionate and knowledgable about the food as he is.
Steve's passion for his art and the local community are admirable. The philosophy of Five Fifty-Five is first and foremost about forming relationships with local farmers and businesses to build a strong community. Any given year, Steve may work with ten to fifteen local farms to supply ingredients for his restaurants. He has a relationship with the owner of a local hog farm. Each year they offer him a beautiful hog in exchange for one amazing meal prepared by Steve and his staff. At the end of the meal, they are able to sit down and enjoy a conversation and glass of wine.