May 19, 2010

A Beard award, finally!

Maine's culinary community rejoiced when, after six nominations and zero medals, Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier won the prestigious James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northeast.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, chef/owners of Arrows and MC Perkins Cove restaurants in Ogunquit, pose with the Best Chef/Northeast medals bestowed on them by the James Beard Foundation. " can't even describe the moment (when the prize was announced in New York)," Gaier says. "I was just so ecstatic and so happy, and wanted to just leap out of my seat."

Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Frasier and Gaier opened Arrows 20 years ago and have always been “ahead of the curve,” said Melissa Kelly, chef/owner of Primo restaurant in Rockland and herself a Beard award winner in 1999.

John Patriquin

Additional Photos Below

Maine now has four chefs who have been awarded the title of Best Chef in the Northeast by the James Beard Foundation.
In addition to the Arrows chefs in Ogunquit and Melissa Kelly, chef/owner of Primo in Rockland, two Portland chefs have brought home the honor. Sam Hayward of Fore Street took the prize in 2004. Rob Evans, chef/owner of Hugo’s, won the medal last year.

Who’s next?

Kelly thinks there are more chefs working in Maine – and outside of Portland – who should be nominated.

“I think Rich Hanson from Cleonice (in Ellsworth) is very talented, and I think he’s doing really smart sustainable cooking,” she said. “And to me, that’s more important than putting your ego on a plate.”

Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier say the state shouldn’t hold its breath for another win next year, even if more Maine chefs are nominated. After all, Maine has now won two years in a row, and there are some other New England chefs who have had multiple nominations with no wins. Michael Levinson of Lumiere in West Newton, Mass., has been nominated three times, and Marc Orfaly of Pigalle in Boston has seen his name on the list six times.

“Now it’s kind of their turn,” Frasier said.


CONSIDER TRYING one of the restaurant’s “Around the World” dinners inspired by the chefs’ most recent travels. The dinners offer five courses for $58, or $89 with wine.

MAY 23: Dinner at San Domenico, Italy’s best restaurant.

JUNE 27: A Mediterranean dinner featuring food from Constantinople, Damascus, Amman, Jerusalem and Florence.

OCT. 17: “Arabian Nights” dinner based on the chefs’ visit to Narange, the best restaurant in Damascus.

OCT. 31: A dinner at Cibreo, a favorite restaurant in Florence.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on these and other dinners, or to make reservations, call 361-1100 or go to

Frasier found more than 100 e-mails from well-wishers in his mailbox, and Gaier found almost 200 between two e-mail accounts.

Ogunquit innkeepers, wine representatives and friends sent lots of flowers.

"People are so happy for us and are being so nice," Gaier said. "It's just amazing. I just got an e-mail from a friend in Thailand who used to work for us years ago. He lives there now and is in the hotel business. It's incredible how things went around the world so quickly."

The chefs have come to appreciate the timing of their win. The theme at this year's James Beard awards ceremony was mentoring, and it just so happens that two of their own mentors were there.

Jeremiah Tower, for whom the Arrows chefs worked at Stars Restaurant in San Francisco, had not attended the awards in several years, but was there to watch his proteges pick up their medals. Also in attendance was chef Mark Franz of Farallon in San Francisco, another mentor from their time at Stars.

Gaier thanked both men in his acceptance speech.

"It felt really appropriate that we won this year because they were both there," Gaier said, "and they were two of our most influential, inspirational chefs that we know. And so I can't think of a better year to win. I felt so proud, and I felt like we made them proud.

"That was worth waiting seven years."


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


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Additional Photos

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Happiness is: Mark Gaier, left, and Clark Frasier smile for the cameras moments after winning their James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northeast.


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