Chefs, restaurants named James Beard semifinalists

Of the 20 culinary masters who were named semifinalists in the 2020 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards for Best Chef in the Northeast division, seven are from Maine: Vien Dobui of CÔNG TỬ BỘT in Portland; Ben Jackson, Drifters Wife, Portland; Krista Kern Desjarlais, The Purple House, North Yarmouth; Greg Mitchell and Chad Conley, Palace Diner, Biddeford; Ravin Nakjaroen, Long Grain, Camden; Devin Finigan, Aragosta at Goose Cove, Deer Isle; and Erin French, The Lost Kitchen, Freedom. The Northeast division includes all six New England states.

In addition, Portland’s Fore Street is a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant. Other semifinalists include Novare Res Bier Café in Portland for Outstanding Bar Program and Briana Holt, Tandem Coffee + Bakery in Portland, for Outstanding Baker.

The final Restaurant and Chef Award nominees will be announced on March 25, marking the 30th anniversary of the coveted and comprehensive honors for chefs, restaurants, journalists, authors and other leaders in the food and beverage industry.

Former AG from Durham nominated to state ethics panel

Gov. Janet Mills announced last week that she has nominated former Maine Attorney General William Schneider to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

Hampden Town Councilor Dennis Marble was also nominated.

Schneider, a Republican of Durham who is now retired, also served as Dispositions Group Chief, U.S. Military Commissions at the United States Department of Defense, as a judge for the state of Maine and as director and deputy director of the Maine Office of Policy and Management. Schneider was as an anti-terrorism prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, served in the Maine House of Representatives and was a drug prosecutor in the Maine Office of the Attorney General. A U.S. Army veteran, he received a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.


Schneider was selected from a list submitted by the Maine House Republican caucus to fill the Republican-designated seat previously held by Brad Pattershall.

“The Maine Ethics Commission serves as an important guardian of our state’s election laws, and I take seriously my responsibility to appoint qualified individuals,” Mills said. “Bill Schneider and Dennis Marble are qualified, respected and experienced in their fields, and have proven track records of working across the aisle to get things done.”

Hires, promotions, appointments


Kennebec Savings Bank President and CEO Andrew Silsby announced David Holmblad has been promoted to senior vice president and marketing director and communications officer. He will oversee the bank’s marketing, communications and community giving areas.

Giving back

Bar Harbor Bank & Trust’s employee-driven charitable giving program, Casual for a Cause, recently donated more than $9,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick, Emmaus Homeless Shelter, Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity and Girls on the Run Vermont.

The South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club, with an emphasis on helping Maine’s veterans, has donated $600 this Rotary year to Vet2Vet Maine, a trained group of 100-plus volunteers who offer assistance and friendship to Maine veterans.

Cajun culinary champs

Southern Maine Community College’s Culinary Arts Program students won first place at the 25th Annual WMPG Fat Tuesday Cajun Cookin’ Challenge for their Jambalaya Fritters. Seated is Derek Chao, top left is Jada Tuttle, middle is Neil Gardiner, at right is Becky Scott. The second place winner of the Feb. 25 event was Lenny’s Pub of Westbrook and third place went to Ruski’s. Courtesy / WMPG