Two Maine chefs and a brewer are James Beard Award Finalists


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.”

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Where to Eat: At Hugo’s, almost all of the ingredients on the menu are farmed, fished, or foraged in Maine. Its sister restaurant Eventide Oyster Co. is also worth checking out.

Top 100 U.S. Restaurants 2016

No. 37: Hugo's

It is rare when a restaurant continues to turn out high-quality food after the departure of its founder. But based on the amazing job that Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley and GM Arlin Smith have been doing since they purchased Hugo’s from Rob Evans, it appears they have defied the odds. Not only have the trio completely refurbished the place, replacing the stodgy old dining room with a hipsterish 19-seat counter, complemented by a few tables along the back wall, reviewers are saying things like “at the moment, the restaurant is turning out some of the best food in the country.” One even went as far as to say his meal was reminiscent of Saison (number 1 in our 2014 survey.) That is rarified air indeed.

James Beard Award semifinalists include nine from Maine

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 Complete 2015 James Beard Foundation Award Nominees

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

Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley took sharp turns on way to chef-hood

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.

Hugo's Eat Feature

By Katy Kelleher

Cauliflower foam. Ichthyic spinal fluid. Kimchi puree. Even for those of us who are apt to drop the phrase “sous vide” into casual conversation, these elements sound mildly daunting. But that has always been a part of the program at Hugo’s. The Portland institution has been pushing diners into new culinary waters for 25 years. Only now, following a renovation and a menu revamp, they’re doing it a little more gently. No more blind tasting menus here—just shockingly good food, composed right in front of your eyes.

Gastronauts, Chart a Course for New England

By Sarah Karnasiewicz

Indeed, it seems the most successful practitioners of the new New England cuisine are slavish neither to trends nor tradition, but blend the imaginative approach of the artist with the work-hard, work-smart attitude of the yeoman. For Mike Wiley, co-chef and co-owner of Hugo's and Eventide Oyster Co. in the Old Port of Portland, Maine, that means gathering black locust blossoms to serve with crudo in June, sea beans in late summer, and then "putting your nose to the grindstone, preserving the hell out of the bounty of summer and resigning yourself to falling in love with celery and parsnips for a while."

Saturday Morning Grocery Mile in Portland, Maine

By Frederick Bever

For seafood, and any food, really, Portland is a great place to visit and an even better place to live. Amongst the city waterfront’s crowd of 19th- and early 20th-century brick buildings, there’s a remarkably dense concentration of restaurants, watering holes, breweries, bakeries, coffee roasters, groceries ranging from Asian to Latin to Italian, even a mead factory. In the cobblestoned Old Port you can find the august heroes of the city’s 1990’s gustatory revolution, Fore Street and Hugo's, joined by more recent standouts...

Explore Portland's Most Daring Dinner at the Newly Reopened Hugo's

By Will Bleakley

...Inside, couples carry on hushed conversations while observing the chefs in the open kitchen and taking long moments to savor each course. The leather booths, lounge music, and wooden bar, made from a 160-year-old red birch tree scooped from the bottom of Moosehead Lake, create a warmer and more personal atmosphere. It’s less about meeting up with friends than it is about having time to comfortably relish one of the best meals in the entire state.

The Top 10 Iconic American Restaurants

By David Foxley

Since opening in 1988, Hugo's, situated at he top of Portland's Old Port district, has evolved from its humble Irish-pub roots. Today, Hugo's is a nationally acclaimed culinary destination known for New England-style dishes with a refined approach: cornmeal-crusted soft-shell lobster; local pheasant with polenta, turnips and shiitake; rabbit salad. "There's a sense of community here", says Andrew Taylor, a co-owner and chef. 'The people who work here love their jobs, and their love of the food and their energy comes across to the guests."

Portland, Me.: Locavore in Menu and Décor

By Suzanne MacNeille

The streets were empty on a Monday night, but Hugo’s, a sleek, lounge-like restaurant at the edge of the Old Port district, was filled — not only with diners intent on their delicate assemblages of, say, braised daikons with summer kimchi, but also with the dozen or so servers and food preparers who take center stage in the bright open kitchen that faces the bar.

No. 2 Top Restaurant in New England

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.

The New Tastes of New England

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.

Hugo's Restaurant

By Joe Ricchio

"The purchase of Hugo's was, for us, about as turn-key as one could possibly imagine. We have basically been running the restaurant for two years now, so there is really no change outside of the actual ownership itself."

This is front-of-house manager turned owner Arlin Smith, when questioned about his recent acquisition of the iconic Portland restaurant. Both of his business partners in this venture, chefs Andrew Taylor and Michael Wiley, wholeheartedly agree.