Thursday, December 5, 2013
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Melissa Kelly, chef/co-owner, Primo
Sam Hayward, Fore Street chef/owner
On Tuesday afternoon, the restaurant's namesake had not yet heard the good news, but Michelle Corry planned to call her as soon as she could. "It's going to make Michelle's grandmother just so happy," Corry said.
The James Beard Foundation said Tuesday that it had received a record 57,000 online nominations this year for 20 restaurant and chef award categories. Those online entries were tabulated by an independent accounting firm.
The semifinalist list will now be sent to a volunteer panel of more than 550 judges, a group that includes past winners, restaurant critics, food editors and other knowledgeable people in the food world.
Five finalists will be announced in each category March 19 at The Palazzo in Las Vegas. Winners will be announced at a ceremony May 7 at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Hayward noted that judges must sign a disclaimer saying they have actually eaten at the restaurants they've voted for, or eaten the food of nominated chefs.
That stipulation, combined with the fact that there are simply more judges in larger cities, makes it "numerically improbable" that Maine would have so many semifinalists.
"I think it's really exciting," Hayward said. "I think it shows that Maine is being watched."
Steve Corry agreed, saying the number of semifinalists from Maine shows that interest in food and restaurants here is not just a passing fad.
"It's not a trend, so to say," he said. "Portland is solidifying its place in the nation – not just Portland, but Maine – as a place where you can go and eat well."
Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The owners of Petite Jacqueline in Portland didn’t find out about their James Beard nomination until they got a text from a former sous chef.
2011 File Photo/Derek Davis