Maine chefs and restaurants earn Beard nod

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Once again, Maine chefs and restaurants have gained national attention in numbers that are proportionately far greater than its population. Check out the list of Maine-based semi-finalists for the James Beard Foundation’s annual awards. Nominees will be announced March 24, with the awards gala slated for May 4.

And the semi-finalists are…

Outstanding Chef: Sam Hayward, Fore Street, Portland, ME

Outstanding Restaurant: Fore Street, Portland, ME

Best New Restaurant: Emilitsa, Portland, ME

Best Chef Northeast: (Wow! five out of 20 are Maine chefs)

Penelle Chase, Phoebe Chase, Megan Chase, and Ted Lafage, Chase’s Daily, Belfast, ME

Rob Evans, Hugo’s, Portland, ME

Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, Arrows Restaurant, Ogunquit, ME

Rich Hanson, Cleonice, Ellsworth, ME

Brian Hill, Francine Bistro, Camden, ME

Haven’t had a chance to try these restaurants yet? Better make plans now, before the rest of the state/region/nation starts booking the tables. Many are participating in RestaurantWeekMe.