May 4, 2010

Two Ogunquit chefs are Northeast's best

After six tries, Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of Arrows Restaurant win a Beard award.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Two more award-winning chefs have brought national attention to Maine's culinary industry.

click image to enlarge

Mark Gaier, left, and Clark Frasier

Courtesy photo

Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, chef/owners of Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, were named Best Chefs in the Northeast on Monday night by the James Beard Foundation.

Frasier and Gaier had been nominated for the award six times before Monday's ceremony in New York City. The James Beard Awards, the most prestigious in the restaurant industry, are often compared to the Academy Awards.

"We are on top of the world," Frasier said in a telephone interview from the awards ceremony Monday night. "After seven years, it is more than sweet."

Frasier and Gaier are best known for Arrows, the restaurant they run in an 18th-century post-and-beam farmhouse. They also own MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and Summer Winter, a restaurant at the Marriott Hotel in Burlington, Mass.

Winning the award this year was gratifying because two of the chefs they have mentored attended the ceremony. Frasier said it's important for them to be able to take younger chefs under their wing.

Frasier, 49, said he started out in the restaurant business 35 years ago as a dishwasher. Gaier, 53, was 17 when he got into the business.

They have been working in Maine for 23 years.

While the James Beard Foundation recognition will likely attract new diners to his restaurants, Frasier said he is also happy because the award once again shines the national spotlight on Maine restaurants.

Last year, Rob Evans, chef and owner of Hugo's restaurant in Portland's Old Port, was named Best Chef in the Northeast. Sam Hayward, the chef at Portland's Fore Street, won the same award in 2004.

"For years, people from out of state would say to us, 'So, you own a restaurant in Maine. What do you sell: fried clams?' " Frasier said. "Maine restaurants are very dynamic, and people are beginning to discover that."

Arrows gets more than 90 percent of its produce from a garden that Frasier and Gaier started in 1990.

They are considered pioneers in the farm-to-table movement.

"We were doing this stuff before anyone coined the phrase farm-to-table," he said.

Frasier said he and Gaier planned to spend Monday night partying in New York City.

They were invited to a post-awards-ceremony party at Eleven Madison Park, the restaurant of their fellow chef and friend Daniel Humm, who won the Best Chef award for New York City.

"I don't think we are going to get a lot of sleep tonight," Frasier said.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

 

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