When eight Maine companies were nominated for the national Good Food Awards, Rising Tide Brewing Company threw a tasting party and invited the other nominees.

“I love anything that celebrates food, especially food that comes right from Maine,” said Jamie Pacheco of Harpswell at the free tasting party at Rising Tide last week.

“The Good Food Awards are judged on the criteria of being delicious foods but also sustainability, so we submitted Daymark because it’s made with locally grown organic rye,” said Heather Sanborn, co-owner of Rising Tide.

“It’s like the Golden Globes of craft food,” said Kate McAleer, owner of Bixby & Co. of Rockland, a finalist in the Confections category with the Nutty for You bar. “It’s really cool to be part of the positive energy around recognizing craft food producers.”

The other Maine contender in the Confection category is Black Dinah’s Chocolatiers, which moved from Isle au Haut to Westbrook after winning a Good Food Award in 2015. For 2016, Black Dinah’s submitted its Maine Mint Truffle.

“It has a freshness and an earthiness,” said CEO Steve Shaffer. “I love it.”

Maine has two nominees in the Honey category: Gold Star Honeybees of Gardiner and Posto Bello Apiaries, based in the Rockland area.

“It was a completely off-the-cuff kind of thing. I just sent it out,” said Carmine DeStefano of Posto Bello Apiaries, who has been “doing honey” for eight years with his wife and daughter. “I just extract the honey and tend to the hives,” he said, giving the credit to the bees.

Speckled Ax Wood Roasted Coffee of Portland is a nominee in the Coffee category for its Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Hafursa.

“We chose a coffee that we really liked and sent it off to be sampled with over 200 entries,” said owner Matt Bolinder. “Most of the other coffees on the list of finalists are very expensive and very exclusive. But our coffee is one you can buy and drink every day.”

Turtle Rock Farm of Brunswick is a nominee in the Pantry category with its Garlic Scape Relish, and Winter Hill Farm of Freeport is a nominee in the Cheese category with its Tide Line, an ashed bloomy rind cow’s milk cheese.

Many in the crowd at the free tasting just happened upon it, as was the case with Rising Tide fan Julie Bozek. But that didn’t stop her from purchasing from the other nominees.

“We’re about to get some cheese to bring up to our cabin,” she said.

Good Food Awards were presented on Friday in San Francisco. To see the list of winners, visit goodfoodawards.org.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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