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Couture and Cooking Define This Maine Chef

shaun stoothoff

Shaun Stoothoff is a burgeoning chef from Standish, Maine with two distinct interests: couture clothing design and cooking.

So far he’s managed to do both.

After getting his degree in design from Manhattan’s Parsons School of Design in 2021, he began designing silkscreen t-shirts for his company, “The Call of the Void.” A percentage of all proceeds go to nonprofits working with mental health and suicide prevention, a subject close to his heart.

Eventually he plans to design higher quality couture pieces. “I look at it like it’s a different way of presenting art that people seem to really enjoy,” he said. “I like to overlap this with cooking. It’s all art, and if you can make something that somebody finds interesting and change their perspective, that’s what I’m really shooting for.”

For now, the chef de cuisine is working to reopen Tao Yuan, an Asian fusion restaurant in Brunswick, Maine, which closed due to the labor shortage.

the call of the void sweatshirt

He’ll be the first to tell you, however, that he honed his craft for cooking at Fore Street, a restaurant that heralded in a new era of dining, not only in Portland, but across the country. “That definitely changed how I looked at cooking as a whole and as a craft,” he said. “It came down to really focusing on flavor and ingredients.”

While at Fore Street, he worked as garde manger, handling the local produce. “The trickiest part is that unlike most restaurants who use food distributors, at Fore Street we would have farmers come in daily,” he said. “You would look through everything and say what you wanted. By one in the afternoon, you’d propose your courses to the sous chef for that evening.”

That same fresh farm to table philosophy is on display at Tao Yuan, where only seasonal local ingredients are front and center, infused with Asian flavors and a mixture of modern cooking techniques.

dressed oyster

For Stoothoff, that means pickling.“In Maine we have great resources, but in the winter it’s tough to find produce. I pickle things I find in the summer and use them in the winter,” he said.

Though he’s still in the discovery process in his career, he has exciting goals. “I tend to hop around a bit. I just like to keep going with the momentum of experience. I’m trying to value my time more. If I really like a place, I will stay, but I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do,” he said.

And that means one day opening his own restaurant, with a storefront where he can sell his clothing. “I just want to do something that keeps me close to people,” he said.


Victoria Pardo

Victoria Pardo is a practicing historic preservationist for FEMA with a dual interest in food and architecture. She earned her master’s in Historic Preservation from Columbia University, and enjoys consulting with historic sites and house museums, finding ever-changing ways to interpret food history. She has worked in the restaurant industry since the age of 16. She spends most of her time between Nantucket Island, MA, and Maine, working on her website, Food and Architecture, sharing stories, recipes and travel recommendations.



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