Portland’s Fore Street 1 of 5 contenders for Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurant award

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Well here’s another feather in Fore Street’s toque. Today the Portland restaurant was named a finalist in the extremely competitive Outstanding Restaurant category of the James Beard Foundation awards . No Northeast limitation on this doozie: Fore Street is one of five national finalists for the honor. Chef/owner Sam Hayward has already won Best Chef in the Northeast honors.

If judged by company one keeps, Fore Street is foremost in foodie minds. Hayward and partner-owners Victor Leon and Dana Street have some formidable competition for the coveted award: Babbo (Chef/Owner: Mario Batali, Owner: Joe Bastianich, New York, NY); Boulevard (Chef/Owner: Nancy Oakes, Owner: Pat Kuleto, San Francisco, CA); Highlands Bar & Grill (Chef/Owner: Frank Stitt, Birmingham, AL); and Jean Georges (Chef/Owner: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Owner: Phil Suarez, New York, NY). Like I said, formidable.

Three other Maine chefs are in the Beard limelight. Among the five chefs vying for Best Chef in the Northeast are Rob Evans, of Hugos, in Portland, and the Clark Frasier/ Mark Gaier duo, of Arrows, in Ogunquit. All have been in this position previously. They’re up agans, Michale Leviton, of Lumierre in West Newton, Mass.; Tony Maws, of Cragie on Main, in Cambridge, Mass.; and Marc Orfaly, of Pigalle, in Boston.

Winners will be announced at the annual awards gala on May 4.