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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: August 13, 2014

Dining Guide: 5 Maine restaurants run by veterans of food TV

The chefs at these Maine eateries put their culinary mettle to the test on shows like “Top Chef Masters” and “Chopped.” But whether or not they came out on top, their restaurants are all winners.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

For full listings and more restaurants, see the new searchable Restaurant & Bar Guide.

Chefs Mark Gaier, left, and Clark Frasier at MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit. Press Herald file photo

Chefs Mark Gaier, left, and Clark Frasier at MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit. Press Herald file photo

MC Perkins Cove

11 Perkins Cove, Ogunquit | 646-6263 | | $$$$
High-profile Maine chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier competed on Season 4 of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” with Clark surviving one episode beyond Mark. Their popular waterfront restaurant in Ogunquit, which serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, is known for its raw bar and creative preparations of local seafood.


The Clam Shack in Kennebunk. Press Herald file photo

The Clam Shack

2 Western Ave., Kennebunk | 967-3321 | | $$
In 2010, The Clam Shack’s lobster roll beat the one from neighboring Alisson’s Restaurant on Travel Channel’s “Food Wars.” It’s one of many accolades this seasonal shack has garnered for its distinctive lobster sandwich, but the fried clams and crispy onion rings proud owner Steve Kingston and his crew turn out are equally as stellar. Take your seafood to the beach, or sit at the few picnic tables next to the Kennebunk River.

Duckfat in Portland. Press Herald file photo

Duckfat in Portland. Press Herald file photo


43 Middle St., Portland | 774-8080  | | $$
Chef-owner Rob Evans won Food Network’s “Chopped” in 2011 and was the runner-up on “Chopped Champions” in 2013. He didn’t make his signature duckfat-fried French fries either time, but you’ll want to be sure to order them here. The sandwiches, soups and milkshakes make this one of Portland’s most popular restaurants, so be prepared to wait for a table.

The Pearl

275 Main St., Rockland | 594-9889 | | $$$
Chef/owner Michele Ragussis competed on Food Network’s “Chopped” in 2010, won an episode of “24 Hour Restaurant Battle” in 2011 and was a finalist on “Food Network Star” in 2012. She recently appeared on NBC’s “Food Fighters.” Having run The Pearl’s seafood-centric kitchen in 2012 and 2013, Ragussis took the helm of the harborside restaurant this summer, adding a happy hour and late-night menu.

The Brass Compass Cafe

305 Main St., Rockland | 596-5960 | | $$
Chef/owner Lynn Archer’s King of Clubs bested Bobby Flay’s lobster club sandwich on Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” in 2009. Along with that justifiably famous dish, the lunch menu at The Brass Compass includes fried seafood platters, a blackened haddock rueben and other hearty fare. The restaurant is also popular for breakfast, where tourists rub elbows with local fishermen.

Key to prices

The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up

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