James Beard Award semifinalists include nine from Maine

Fore Street and The Honey Paw, both in Portland, are among the restaurants named, and five chefs from four restaurants are in the running for Best Chef: Northeast.

Nine Maine restaurants, chefs and brewmasters are among this year’s semifinalists for James Beard Awards, considered the most prestigious in the American food world.

Maine’s 2016 semifinalists cover seven categories – there are 21 restaurant and chef categories in all – including Best New Restaurant and Outstanding Restaurant. The group was selected from more than 20,000 online entries.

The Honey Paw in Portland is a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category, which is given to a restaurant opened in 2015 that “already displays excellence … and is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.”

Candidates for Best Chef: Northeast face a smaller pool of competitors from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as Maine. This year’s Maine semifinalists are Erin French of The Lost Kitchen in Freedom; Brian Hill of Francine Bistro in Camden; Keiko Suzuki Steinberger of Suzuki’s Sushi Bar in Rockland; and Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor of Eventide Oyster Co., Portland.

Eventide’s Wiley and Taylor were finalists in this category last year. The pair are also partners (with Arlin Smith) in Hugo’s and The Honey Paw.

Arielle Walrath

Might & Main, 408 Fore Street, Portland, ME, 04101

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