February 20, 2013

3 Maine chefs, one restaurant make Beard list

The five finalists in each category will be announced March 18; the winners will be announced May 6.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Three Maine chefs and one Portland restaurant have made the long list of semifinalists for the 2013 James Beard Awards.

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Bresca’s owner and chef Krista Desjarlais, pictured in this March 21, 2011 file photo, is one of three semifinalists from Maine competing for a James Beard Award in the prestigious Best Chef: Northeast category.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Brian Hill, chef/owner of Francine Bistro in Camden.

Photo by Ted Axelrod

Additional Photos Below

Winners of the awards, often referred to as the Oscars of the food world, will be announced in May.

Maine's three semifinalists in the prestigious Best Chef: Northeast category are Krista Kern Dejarlais, chef/owner of Bresca in Portland; Brian Hill, chef/owner of Francine Bistro in Camden; and Melissa Kelly, chef/owner of Primo in Rockland.

Portland's Fore Street is a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant. This is the fifth time the restaurant has made the semifinalist list. It was a finalist in the category in 2010.

The five finalists in each category will be announced March 18, and the winners will be announced May 6 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.

Maine chefs have won the Best Chef: Northeast category three times in recent years. Last year, five Maine chefs were nominated for the award, but none made the finals.

This is Desjarlais' third time on the Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist list. She was one of the five finalists in 2011, but her plate came home empty that year.

Brian Hill has been a perennial semifinalist.

Melissa Kelly won the Best Chef: Northeast title in 1999, but it was for her work at a restaurant in New York. She was a semifinalist for Outstanding Chef last year, going up against such culinary luminaries as David Chang of Momofuku in New York City and Charles Phan of The Slanted Door in San Francisco. But she did not make the finals.

Bon Appetit columnist Andrew Knowlton recently named Kelly's Primo restaurant one of the 20 most important restaurants in the United States.

Maine chefs have won Best Chef: Northeast three times. Sam Hayward of Fore Street was the first in 2004. Rob Evans won in 2009 for his work at Hugo's in Portland, and Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of Arrows in Ogunquit won in 2010.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Melissa Kelly, chef/owner of Primo in Rockland.

Derek Davis / Staff Photographer


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