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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 saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: April 1, 2014

Cara Stadler of Tao Yuan is a Food & Wine Best New Chef, 2014

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Food & Wine Magazine Editor Dana Cowin (left) with Cara Stadler, member of the Classof 2014 Best New Chefs. Photo courtesy of Food & Wine

NOTE: This post has been updated.

The photo above, posted this morning on Food & Wine Editor Dana Cowin’s Instgram feed, is how we found out that Cara Stadler, chef of Tao Yuan in Brunswick, is one of the members of the Class of 2014, Best New Chefs. Cowin announced all the winners by posting selfies with them.

“We were super excited — and shocked,” said a breathless Stadler via phone from New York City, where the 10 Best New Chefs are being feted at a party tonight and in all probability, photographed together for the cover of the annual Food & Wine Best New Chefs issue, which will hit newsstands in July. She is returning to Maine tomorrow after a whirlwind few days of celebration, while her sous chef and girlfriend Saskia Poulos, who has been spending the winter working on a farm in England and flew back just for the big announcement, will head back to the U.K. for another couple of months.

Stadler said she found out about the honor “a few weeks ago” when she got a phone call from Cowin. “I thought when I started cooking in my dream world it would be this and a James Beard Award. We’ve had an amazing year.”

Although she didn’t make the finals, Stadler was nominated last month for a James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef. She is still in the running for Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Chef, New England, voted on by readers. Also nominated are Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, chefs of Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo’s in Portland. Those results will be announced tomorrow, April 2 (voting closed March 31).

Stadler, who opened Tao Yuan in 2012 with her mother, Cecile (her dad, John, handles the business side) is working on opening her second restaurant, specializing in dumplings, on the corner of Spring Avenue and Park Street in Portland. She also has plans to expand Tao, installing a greenhouse and an hydroponic garden to grow Asian vegetables not readily available in Maine.

The last Maine chef to be named Best New Chef was Steve Corry of Five Fifty-Five and Petite Jacqueline, in the class of 2007.

Here is the full list of 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chefs:

  • Justin Yu, Oxheart, Houston
  • Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan, Brunswick ME
  • Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton, Ox, Portland, OR
  • Matthew Accarrino, SPQR, San Francisco
  • Paul Qui, Qui, Austin, TX
  • Eli Kulp, Fork, Philadelphia
  • Ari Taymor, Alma, Los Angeles
  • Dave Beran, Next, Chicago
  • Matt McCallister, FT33, Dallas
  • Walker Stern and Joe Ogrodnek, Dover, Brooklyn, NY

Congratulations Cara!

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