Regards chef Neil Zabriskie, left, was one of eight Portland chefs and restaurateurs to win Coastal New England Rising Star awards from StarChefs. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Hospitality industry publication and tastemaker StarChefs recently named eight Portland chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs among their Coastal New England Rising Star Award winners.

The StarChefs honorees included Chef Jeremy Broucek of Bread & Friends; Arvid Brown, bartender/owner of Room for Improvement; Chef Valerie Goldman of The Honey Paw; restaurateurs Marisa Lewiecki and Jordan Rubin of Bar Futo and Mr. Tuna; Georgia Macon, pastry chef at Twelve; Chef Cyle Reynolds of Crispy Gai; and Chef Neil Zabriskie of Regards.

While the 28-year-old StarChefs has had a Rising Star awards program for decades, the Coastal New England category – with 21 winners around the region in all – is new for 2023.

“There is a serious focus on agriculture, aquaculture, as well as innovations in showcasing what is fished and farmed locally,” a writeup on StarChef’s website explained. “The region’s major emphasis on cohesion, creativity, and providing hospitality for one another makes us at StarChefs excited about the momentum on the New England coastline.

“In our over 100 editorial visits across Rhode Island, Maine, and the Massachusetts Islands, we found a group of industry professionals defying the odds of seasonality, embracing the unique challenges of an economy that burns hotter than the summer sun, and understanding how to keep themselves and their teams stimulated and engaged in the winter months,” the writeup also stated.

To celebrate winners, StarChefs is hosting a Rising Stars Restaurant Week – that runs two weeks – from Wednesday, Sept. 20 to Wednesday, Oct. 4. Diners can order any of the featured items at winners’ venues – specific drinks and dishes are listed on the website – and share an Instagram post or story to enter to win $100 restaurant gift cards.



Wine Enthusiast magazine has included two Maine wine retailers on their list of Best Wine Shops for 2023.

The publication named Portland’s Maine & Loire and Vessel & Vine in Brunswick among 15 winning shops for their region, “Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and New York.”

Wine Enthusiast staff consulted with more than 80 wine industry professionals to compile the guide. “We kept in mind several factors: community involvement, spotlights on local wine, commitments to causes and excellence of selection,” the article stated in part.

“Our 2023 shops are information hubs and community centers,” the article continued. “They open windows into local wine regions, introducing consumers to the ferments happening in their own backyards. These shops help tell America’s wine story as it is today — one that celebrates new varieties, new approaches to winemaking and a diverse maker space.”

“Through all of its evolutions, Vessel & Vine has remained committed to serving the community from a deep belief that sharing food and wine together can be a powerful catalyst for positive change,” the writeup for the Brunswick shop reads. “Yes, it’s a beautiful and exceptionally curated wine shop and market, but the soul of this place is so much greater than the sum of its parts.”


The writeup for Maine & Loire said the shop is “a mainstay in the Portland wine scene. It’s a central figure around the annual Maine Wild Wine Fest, hosting producers for wine tastings and wine classes for the local community.”


When Pigs Fly Breads will close its Freeport retail store and move the operation to its new Portland store in October.

When Pigs Fly President James Broom said he expects the Portland store, to be located at 65 Hanover St., will open around Oct. 17, and that the Freeport store will close a few days earlier to accommodate the move.

Broom said the Freeport store, which he estimated has been open for nearly 20 years, was not underperforming. Rather, company leaders didn’t want to “cannibalize” their own business in the greater Portland market by keeping Freeport open.

“We have a really strong customer base in Freeport. It’s just that we can tell through our research that Portland is where our customers are,” Broom said. “And a lot of people who shop in the Freeport store were from Portland, anyway.”


Once the Freeport store closes, When Pigs Fly will have two retail stores in Maine, including a Kittery location. The Portland venue will be retail only – the company’s bread is baked at its York headquarters daily, then distributed to stores.

“We feel we’re entering the Portland market at a really exciting time,” Broom said.

Orange Bike founder Tom Ruff inside his gluten-free brewery, now under development on Diamond Street in East Bayside. Photo by Chris Cary Photography

GLUTEN-FREE BREWERY COMING TO EAST BASYSIDE Maine’s second gluten-free brewery is on track to launch in Portland this fall.

Orange Bike Brewing is now under construction at 31 Diamond St. in East Bayside. Founder Tom Ruff said he expects the 3,300-square-foot venue to open sometime in October. Lucky Pigeon Brewing in Biddeford, which launched in 2021, was the state’s first gluten-free brewery.

Ruff hired Alan Pugsley – a co-founder of Shipyard Brewing Company who has been called the “Johnny Appleseed of craft brewing” – as a consultant and to develop gluten-free beer recipes for the new brewery. Orange Bike will be the 100th brewery Pugsley has helped open.

The Diamond Street brewery features a 10-barrel brewhouse that uses a restored Peter Austin brick kettle brewing system, along with a one-barrel pilot system for experimenting with new formulas. Pugsley trained Orange Bike head brewer Jason Kissinger when Kissinger was working at Davidson Brothers Brewing Co. in New York State.


Ruff said the eight beers Orange Bike will feature when it launches are made from ancient (gluten-free) grains like millet, buckwheat and quinoa.

Named for an orange e-bicycle Ruff and his young daughter tooled around Maine on during COVID, Orange Bike is on track to become only the 20th gluten-free brewery in the United States. Ruff discovered his own gluten intolerance two-and-a-half years ago. He cited a statistic that more than 30 percent of American households are reducing their gluten intake.

Orange Bike also aims to become a certified B Corp by 2024.


The Needham confection, a Maine staple for more than 150 years, is getting a festival of its own later this month in Wiscasset. Organizers hope to make it an annual event.

The first annual Maine Needham Festival is set for Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Maine Tasting Center. Earlier this year, state lawmakers designated the last Saturday in September as “Maine Needham Day.”


Also known as potato candy, Needhams feature a coconut and potato filling covered in dark chocolate. The new family-friendly fest aims to celebrate the Needham with food, games, craft vendors, drink specials and a homemade Needham contest, along with classes and a Needham-making demonstration led by Maine Tasting Center Culinary Director Liz Gross.

Entrance to the event is free, but organizers said attendees need to reserve their places ahead of time on the festival website.


Tender Table is throwing its third annual food and art fair this month, trying it as an evening event this time around.

Titled “BIPOC Night Market,” the event is set for Saturday, Sept. 30 from 5 to 9 p.m. in Congress Square Park. Featuring food and art from Mainers of color, the market will include 11 food vendors along with art for sale from local artists and craftspeople and live music by Kafari.

Tender Table celebrates Maine’s Black and brown community, spotlighting its various identities, cultures, cuisines and traditions through a combination of storytelling and food. The group began in 2017 as a storytelling event series where women and nonbinary people of color gathered to share stories and a corresponding meal.

This year, Tender Table has partnered with Portland Vietnamese restaurant Cong Tu Bot for the fair. Tender Table founder Stacey Tran said Cong Tu Bot co-owner Vien Dobui, a vendor at last year’s daytime fair, had suggested holding the event in the evening this year.

“He’s been to several night markets that have a very bustling, vibrant feel and wanted to try it out,” Tran said, adding that she expects families with young children will be attending in the first couple hours of this year’s event.

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