Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor, chef/co-owners of three Portland restaurants, and Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing Co., have been named finalists for prestigious James Beard Awards.
Wiley and Taylor, who along with manager Arlin Smith own Eventide Oyster Co., The Honey Paw and Hugo’s, are competing in the category of Best Chef: Northeast.
This is the third nomination for the chefs, who were also finalists last year. Other finalists in their category are Karen Akunowicz of Meyers + Chang in Boston; Cassie Piuma of Sarma in Somerville, Massachusetts; Susan Regis of Shepard in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Benjamin Sukle of Birch in Providence.
Best Chef nominees, according to the James Beard Foundation, have worked as chefs for at least five years and “have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions.”
Fore Street and The Honey Paw, both in Portland, are among the restaurants named, and five chefs from four restaurants are in the running for Best Chef: Northeast.
Nine Maine restaurants, chefs and brewmasters are among this year’s semifinalists for James Beard Awards, considered the most prestigious in the American food world.
Maine’s 2016 semifinalists cover seven categories – there are 21 restaurant and chef categories in all – including Best New Restaurant and Outstanding Restaurant. The group was selected from more than 20,000 online entries.
The Honey Paw in Portland is a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category, which is given to a restaurant opened in 2015 that “already displays excellence … and is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.”
The 2015 James Beard Awards, hosted by Alton Brown, will be held at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 4. Carla Hall will host our Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards Dinner, taking place at New York City's Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on Friday, April 24. Tickets to the main gala go on sale April 1, while BBJ ceremony tickets are now available online.
Announcing the Nominees for the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards, Presented by Lexus
Best Chef: Northeast
Karen Akunowicz, Myers + Chang, Boston
Barry Maiden, Hungry Mother, Cambridge, MA
Masa Miyake, Miyake, Portland, ME
Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville, MA
Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, ME
By Peggy Grodinsky, Food Editor
Law and academia lost out to oysters and fine dining for the two chefs and part-owners of Hugo's, Eventide and soon, Honey Paw.
Savvy restaurant-going Mainers could not have been surprised that Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor were nominated for a James Beard award as Best Chefs: Northeast this year. If anything, we wondered what took the Beard Foundation so long. In partnership with general manager Arlin Smith, the pair owns Portland’s beloved Eventide Oyster Company and the adjacent Hugo’s restaurant on Middle Street. As locals who have waited for a coveted seat know all too well, even in the dead of winter, even on a Sunday night, even at an odd, sleepy hour of the afternoon, Eventide will be jumping. Then there’s Hugo’s (previously owned by Rob Evans), where the space and service are simultaneously posh and relaxed, the cooking intricate, elegant and assured. Hugo’s, an admiring chef friend of mine said after a recent meal, “is the real deal.” Both restaurants regularly make national and regional Best of and Where to Eat lists. And within the next few weeks, Wiley, Taylor and Smith plan to open the noodle-focused Honey Paw in a contiguous space.
By Steve Plotnicki
Portland, Maine, is the last place one expects to find progressive cooking. But that's what Rob Evans, a self-taught chef who originally trained to be an electrician, serves his customers, many of whom have traveled from out of state to eat there. In addition to a terrific in-house charcuterie program that is lorded over by executive chef Andrew Taylor, the daily menu features 15 different offerings, including creations like cornmeal-crusted soft-shell lobster with creamed corn gazpacho, foraged mushrooms, leeks and marjoram; confit of foie gras topped with salted and pickled cherries; and slow-cooked and honey-glazed Luce Farms pork belly with cabbage, apple, onion relish and charred rosemary. Even the desserts, like the house vanilla sundae with "usual and unusual toppings," get into the progressive act.
By Jonathan Levitt
If chefs like Wiley have their way, fine dining menus, with their unlimited year-round fresh produce and expensive cuts of meat, will soon be replaced by a cuisine that is a more specific expression of New England’s seasons, landscape, and culture.