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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: February 18, 2014

New Maine names among 2014 James Beard Award semi-finalists

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Clockwise from top left: Fore Street; Rob Tod of Allagash Brewing; Masa Miyake; Cara Stadler; Brian Hill; Primo. Photos of Miyake, Stadler and Hill by Ted Axelrod; all others Press Herald file

This morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the nominees for its prestigious annual awards, often called “the Oscars of the food world.” The announcement was made live from Orlando, Florida, a city the JBF calls out as having an “on the rise culinary profile.” Maybe one year they’ll come to Portland, hmm …

Maine is represented on the list by familiar names, plus a few newcomers. If you’re curious about the selection process, the JBF explains it HERE.

The list will be paired down to finalists, announced on March 18 from Chicago. The awards ceremonies are May 5 at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Without further ado, here are the nominees from Maine – names without notes have been nominated for the first time.

Outstanding Restaurant:

Fore Street,  Portland
This is the sixth nomination in this category for Fore Street; the restaurant was a finalist in 2010. Chef/owner Sam Hayward was the first chef from Maine to win a James Beard Award: Best Chef, Northeast in 2004.

Primo, Rockland
This is the first time Primo has been nominated for Outstanding Restaurant. Chef/owner Melissa Kelly won Best Chef: Northeast last year and in 1999 (when she was at a restaurant in New York state), becoming the first chef to ever win a JBF Award twice. She was a finalist for Outstanding Chef in 2011 and 2012.

Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional:

Rob TodAllagash Brewing Company, Portland

I’ll also give a well-deserved shout out to nominee Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewing in Delaware, a summer resident of Southport Island (where the actual Dogfish Head is located.) Sam has been a finalist for the past three years.

Rising Star Chef of the Year:

Cara StadlerTao Yuan, Brunswick

Best Chef: Northeast

Brian HillFrancine Bistro, Camden; Shepherd’s Pie, Rockport; Seabright, Camden
This is the fifth year Brian has been nominated for the award.

Masa MiyakeMiyake, Pai Men Miyake, Miyake Diner, all in Portland

Ravin NakjaronenLong Grain, Camden
Ravin was a semifinalist in 2008, when he was chef at The Four Rivers in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

For more, see Meredith Goad’s story on


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