Freeport couple’s potato chips get back to basics

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FREEPORT — Vintage Maine Kitchen makes a potato chip off the old block.

Owners Kelly and Scott Brodeur began frying small batches of potato chips last August at 491 U.S. Route 1. They showcase the naturally made morsels at venues like the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market, open 1-5 p.m. Fridays, at the Topsham Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall.

“We saw an opportunity to make a great small-batch Maine potato chip,” Kelly Brodeur said in an interview Feb. 24. “We wanted to make something that had simple ingredients, utilized what was available locally, and appealed to local flavors.”

The birth of their daughter, Merrill, two years ago caused the Brodeurs to look a little more closely at how the food they were eating was produced.

“Like all kids, Merrill loves chips,” Brodeur, who was trained in culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University, says on the company’s website, vintagemainekitchen.com. “When I looked at the ingredients of the mega brands, I recognized the preservatives, and I understand the chemical process that makes them work: I didn’t want that junk ‘preserving’ my daughter.”

“You are starting to look a little more at your own food ethics,” she explained last week. “We’ve always had a focus on trying to eat as local and clean food as we can, but it’s a lot easier to put your own food ethics on the shelf for a minute to enjoy something that you excuse away as a sinful delight.”

Both Brodeur and her husband grew up eating freshly made potato chips. “They just don’t taste like that anymore, and we missed that nostalgic flavor,” she said.

The result was their all-natural, non-GMO chip. Culled from the Norwis and Keuka Gold potato varieties from Auburn-based Bell Farms, their chips come in two flavors: Ordinary, made from Maine potatoes, Maine evaporated sea salt, and natural sunflower oil, and Maine Maple, which adds Maine maple syrup.

The Brodeurs’ newest flavor, Thankful, is being tested at the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market and has a taste reminiscent of turkey stuffing.

Besides the farmers market, the chips can be found at about 40 retailers and sandwich shops, including Royal River Natural Foods and Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick, Bow Street Market in Freeport, Derosier’s in Freeport and Live Edge Deli in Bath. They can also be found as far away as Dover-Foxcroft, North Conway, New Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

“It’s fun to watch people eat them for the first time, because their eyes get really wide, and they’re surprised at what a difference it makes to use such a simple process, because they do really taste more fresh,” Brodeur said. “They taste like a potato.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Kelly and Scott Brodeur of Freeport, with their daughter Merrill, produce a line of naturally made potato chips at Vintage Maine Kitchen.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.