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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: March 19, 2014

Maine chefs honored with Rising Star Awards

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Clockwise from top left: Justin Walker, Ravin Nakjaroen, Ilma Lopez, Nathan Sanborn, Eli Cayer, Andrew Volk, Will and Kathleen Pratt, Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor. Photos courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

The James Beard Foundation Awards may have ignored Maine this year, but on the heels of that disappointing announcement yesterday, comes some good news from

The industry trends magazine has announced its 2014 Coastal New England Rising Stars Awards, honoring up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals, including eight from Maine. To determine the winners, “visited more than 150 chefs and artisans across 25 cities and small towns” in New England, conducting “in-person tastings and interviews,” according to a press release. The full list of winners is HERE.

“The New England Coast is the place to go to be close to the land, sea, and real food people. Chefs and artisans are opening single-minded restaurants and concepts, and the community has their back,” said Antoinette Bruno, editor-in-chief of

The winners will be feted at the Rising Stars Gala on Tuesday, April 15, at the Providence Biltmore Hotel, beginning with an awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. and followed by a tasting gala, where attendees will experience 20 of Coastal New England’s top chefs and restaurants with beverage pairings and cocktails by the winning sommelier and bartenders.

General admission is $95 per person. VIP tickets are $125 and include a private VIP reception with Champagne and Petrossian caviar, beginning at 5:45 p.m. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to Rhode Island Community Food Bank, a nonprofit that provides food to people in need and promotes long-term hunger solutions. Tickets can be purchased at

Chef Rob Evans of Duckfat in Portland will one of six chefs cooking for an invitation-only honorees dinner on April 14 at Bacaro in Providence.

The Maine winners are:


Chef Ravin “Bas” Nakjaroen. Photo courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

Ravin “Bas” Nakjaroen of Long Grain, Camden 

Featured Dish: Australian Beef Panang Curry, Roasted Red Peppers, Bamboo, and Coconut Cream

Chefs Mike Wiley (left) and Andrew Taylor. Photo courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

Andrew Taylor and Michael Wiley of Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo’s, Portland 

Featured Dish: Lobster Sashimi, Sea Beans, Daikon Radishes, Frozen Ramp Purée, Ginger-Scallion Sauce, Nori Vinaigrette, and Fried Garlic

Chef Justin Walker. Photo courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

Justin Walker of Earth at Hidden Pond, Kennebunkport

Featured Dish: Fried Oysters, Wood-fired Padron Pepper Relish, Bacon, and Sage

Pastry Chefs

Chef Ilma Lopez (right). Photo courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

Ilma Lopez of Piccolo, Portland

Featured Dish: Chocolate Budino Crostata, Candied Hazelnuts, Maldon Sea Salt, and Vincotto


Eli Cayer. Photo courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

Eli Cayer of Urban Farm Fermentory, Portland

Featured Drink: Ginger Kombucha


Nathan Sanborn. Photo courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

Nathan Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewery, Portland

Featured Beer: Daymark American Pale Ale


Will and Kathleen Pratt. Photo courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

Will Pratt of Tandem Coffee Roasters, Portland


Andrew Volk. Photo courtesy of Antoinette Bruno/

Andrew Volk of Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, Portland

Featured Drink: Fratelli Stinger: Laird’s Applejack, BrancaMenta, Bourbon, Angostura Bitters, and Lemon Peel

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