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.”
The James Beard Awards, often called the Oscars of the food world, will be presented at a ceremony May 1 in Chicago.
Tod is a finalist in the Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional category. Nominees in this category are professionals who have “made a significant national impact on the restaurant industry.” The other finalists are Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware; Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider in Dugspur, Virginia; Miljenko Grgich of Grgich Hills Estate in Rutherford, California; and Aldo Sohm of Zalto Glass in New York City.
Wiley and Taylor’s restaurants are all lined up next to each other on Middle Street and share a kitchen. That’s where Wiley was working Wednesday afternoon when he heard the news in a text sent by his “proud father,” who is laid up after dropping a chef’s knife on his foot and was keenly following the announcement of the finalists online. Wiley then texted congratulations to Taylor.
Wiley said the nomination is especially meaningful because this marks the chefs’ third time as finalists. “Clearly it isn’t misfiled paperwork,” he quipped. “We’re supposed to be there.”
Joking aside, Wiley said the announcement is “always a combination of butterflies and excitement.”
“There’s a lot of great chefs who were nominated, so getting this far is a complete thrill,” he said.
Wiley said they plan to attend the awards ceremony in Chicago again this year. In previous years, he said, they’ve taken advantage of the opportunity “to eat out at some really cool restaurants there, and we’re going to do the same this year.”
Other Maine chefs who have won Best Chef: Northeast are Sam Hayward of Fore Street in Portland in 2004; Rob Evans, former owner of Hugo’s in Portland in 2009; Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, of the former Arrows in Ogunquit in 2010; and Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland in 2013.
The awards ceremony will be hosted by actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who stars on the sit-com “Modern Family.”
The James Beard Foundation’s media awards will be announced April 25 in New York City, in a ceremony hosted by celebrity chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern.