Rabelais opened in 2006, when Samantha Hoyt and Don Lindgren created the original shop on Portland’s Middle Street. Portland was still a somewhat seasonal town and commercial real estate largely affordable. Encouraged by the openness and energy of the small city’s chefs and food producers, and excited by their proximity to amazing ingredients from land and sea, they sketched a business plan on a napkin over lunch (really!) and launched Rabelais. With a shared love for food, drink, and books, Don and Samantha brought together distinctly different skills and created the shop that’s been called “The Best Cookbook Shop in America” by Bon Appetit Magazine (2014), was included in the Saveur 100 (2020), and continues to offer an unparalleled inventory of rare and hard-to-find culinary books, manuscript and ephemera.
At the original Portland shop, Rabelais offered an inventory that blended new, used, and rare culinary books. It held special events, exhibitions of food-related art, a film and dinner series, and guest lectures. In 2012, the Rabelais shop moved to Biddeford's Pepperell Mill. The shop closed in September of 2023, but we continue selling now focused on the acquisition, research, and sales of rare printed and manuscript materials related to food and drink. Rabelais works with collectors, special collections librarians, and food professionals around the world, and we perform appraisals, consulting, and institutional placement services for collections and archives.
Brooklyn-born Samantha Hoyt ceased her directinvolvement in Rabelais, and has gone on to create A Gathering of Stitches, originally a fiber and textile maker space in Portland and now a series of experiential retreats focused on related fiber and textile skills. Prior to co-creating Rabelais, she served as a photo editor for Forbes, Life, and People magazines and later left corporate life to pursue a degree in Pastry Arts from the Institute for Culinary Education. She interned under James Beard Award winning pastry chef Karen DeMasco at Craft and worked in bakeries in New York and Maine.
Don has spent the last forty years in the book business, the first half of it specialized in 20th century arts and letters with an emphasis on the avant-gardes, modern design, and photography. In the 1990s, he did a stint in the music industry, in Artist Development with Sony Music International, but found the pull to return to books irresistible. He has served as a Governor of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and is a member of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the Ephemera Society of America. He has lectured or presented at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, the Jacques Pépin Lecture Series in Food Studies & Gastronomy at Boston University, and at Rare Book School’s Boston Seminars. He is currently working on a multi-volume exploration of the American community cookbook, titled UnXld: American Cookbooks of Community & Place.