Five of Maine’s 11 James Beard Award semifinalists have moved on as nominees in the foundation’s 25th annual recognition of the nation’s best chefs and restaurants.

Finalists announced Tuesday morning at the James Beard Foundation in New York City are:

• Central Provisions, Portland: Best New Restaurant

• Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Company and Hugo’s, both in Portland: Best Chef: Northeast

• Masa Miyake, Miyake and Pai Men Miyake, both in Portland: Best Chef: Northeast

• Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan, Brunswick, and Bao Bao, Portland: Rising Star Chef of the Year


Each of the restaurant and chef award categories now has five finalists, whittled down from the 20 semifinalists per category that were announced in February. The foundation also bestows awards for food and drink-related books, articles, broadcast and new media, and restaurant design. Maine food writer Kathy Gunst, a resident of South Berwick who has contributed to the Portland Press Herald, is a finalist in the Home Cooking category for her story “Cabbage Craft,” published in Eating Well magazine.

Winners will be announced at the James Beard Foundation Gala on May 4 in Chicago. The event, often referred to as “the Oscars of the food world,” will be hosted this year by celebrity chef Alton Brown.

Central Provisions, located in the Old Port, is owned by chef Chris Gould and his wife Paige. “It’s very humbling to be put next to such fantastic restaurants, and I think it’s just wonderful that a restaurant in Maine made it in that category – because you actually have to have eaten in a restaurant to vote for it,” Paige Gould said. Other nominees in the category are from such huge markets as Manhattan and Los Angeles.

They plan to attend the awards gala, she said, but “I’m due (she is pregnant with their first child) on the 17th (of May), so we’re definitely going to buy insurance on those tickets.”

Reached at home on the couple’s usual day off, she said her husband was at Central Provisions, in case the news made the restaurant even busier than usual. What are they doing to celebrate? “I’m folding baby clothes,” she said. “But we’ll definitely sneak in a glass of bubbly in at some point.”

This is the first time Taylor and Wiley – who are in the process of opening their third Portland restaurant, The Honey Paw – have made the list.


“We’re surprised,” Taylor said. “We generally felt that with the politics involved you usually get nominated as a semifinalist for a couple of years before you’re a finalist. We’re thrilled and we’re proud of our whole restaurant group. It’s really a restaurant award.”

Wiley referred to the news as “shocking and flattering. We’re trying to cultivate a sense of shock and disbelief and hope that continues to reap rewards here. The biggest thing is that I have to get a tuxedo, and I haven’t worn a tuxedo since the junior prom.”

The last Maine chef duo to win a James Beard Award was Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and the upcoming MC Union in Portland. The pair won Best Chef: Northeast in 2010 at their now closed Ogunquit restaurant, Arrows.

Stadler was also a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef last year. The category recognizes chefs who are under 30 years old. “It’s super amazing and a huge honor,” she said. “I would never have expected it.”

Miyake was a semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast in 2014. Having just returned from a trip to Japan, he issued a statement through Courtney Packer, the general manager at his eponymous restaurant on Fore Street.  “He’s extremely flattered,” she said. “He’s just so excited to bring his Japanese food to Portland and have it be so well received.”

Other Maine chefs and restaurants to reach the semifinal round of the competition but not move on to be nominees were:


Outstanding Baker: Alison Pray, Standard Baking Co., Portland

Outstanding Bar Program: Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, Portland

Outstanding Restaurant: Fore Street, Portland

Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional: Rob Tod of Allagash Brewing Company, Portland

Best Chef: Northeast: Brian Hill of Francine Bistro, Camden and Shepherd’s Pie, Rockport; Ravin Nakjaroen of Long Grain, Camden

The most recent James Beard Award given to a Maine restaurant or chef was in 2013, when chef Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland won Best Chef: Northeast. She was the first chef ever to have won a regional Best Chef award twice; the first time was in 1999, when she was cooking at the Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. in New York.

For a full list of nominees, go to

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