– MEREDITH GOAD
Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, the chef/owners of Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, were nominated Monday for the “Best Chef: Northeast” award from the James Beard Foundation.
It’s the chefs’ seventh nomination, but they have never won.
They were the only Maine chefs to be nominated for the honor this year, although there were three other semifinalists from the state.
The James Beard Awards are the most prestigious in the restaurant industry and are often compared to the Academy Awards.
Frasier, contacted on his cell phone, apparently was surprised to hear that he and Gaier had been nominated for a seventh time. He said he wasn’t aware that the nominations were coming out Monday, and sounded a bit frustrated that the carrot is dangling in front of him yet again.
“We’re the Susan Lucci of the Beard Awards, it seems,” Frasier said. “Every year we hope we win, obviously. It would be nice to win.”
He said it is still “a great honor to be nominated.”
Gaier and Frasier also own MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and Summer Winter, a restaurant in the Marriott hotel in Burlington, Mass. They are best known for Arrows, their country restaurant in an 18th-century post-and-beam farmhouse, where they started a garden long before it became trendy for restaurants to grow their own produce.
In Maine and much of the Northeast, Frasier and Gaier were the pioneers of serving food made with fresh, local, organic ingredients. Today the restaurant’s garden, established in 1992, is more like a small farm. It’s tended by three gardeners and provides as much as 90 percent of Arrows’ produce.
The irony of not being recognized by their peers for their early work championing sustainable foods is not lost on Frasier.
“In other parts of the country, farm-to-table is a buzzword in just the past year or two,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for years.”
Other chefs nominated in the “Best Chef: Northeast” category this year are:
n Peter X. Kelly of Xaviar’s at Piermont in Piermont, N.Y.
n Michael Leviton of Lumiere in West Newton, Mass.
n Tony Maws of Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Mass.
n Marc Orfaly of Pigalle in Boston.
Frasier said that through six Beard nominations without an award, his philosophy has been to just keep moving forward with personal and professional projects.
The chefs will publish their second cookbook, “Maine Classics,” next spring.
After so much disappointment, will they attend the May 3 awards ceremony in New York City’s Avery Fisher Hall?
“We haven’t decided yet,” Frasier said.
“It is rather painful, after so many times, to go and lose yet again. So we’ll see.”
Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: