Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

James Beard Awards Process

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

JBF_AWARDS_MEDALLION-BLOGThe Beard Foundation will release the list of semi-finalists for this year’s awards program next week. While we wait to find out what Maine chefs and restaurants made the cut, I thought it would be good time to research how the Foundation selects nominees and pick the winners.

Here’s what the process looks like:

October 2015 The Beard Foundation put out an open call for the public to submit their suggestions. In 2014 35,000 entries were received.

Late 2015 250 regional panelists (25 for each of the 10 regions) submit their recommendations.

Early 2016 the Restaurant and Chefs Awards Committee review submissions from panelists and the public to select the strongest contenders in each category.

February 17 The “long list” of semi-final nominees is released.

February/March regional panelists, former award winners and committee members—about 600 people in all—vote. The top 5 entries in each category are become nominees. Ballots are sent out and votes are tabulated by the independent accounting firm Lutz & Carr.

March 15 the “short list” of nominees is released.

March/April A final ballot is conducted with the same group (panelists, winners, and committee members) to determine the winner in each of the categories.

May 2 the winners are announced at the Beard Awards Gala in Chicago.

There are a total of 21 restaurant and chef awards in 12 categories. Maine chefs and restaurants have been in the running every year for at least the past decade.

  • Outstanding Restaurateur
  • Outstanding Chef
  • Outstanding Restaurant
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year
  • Best New Restaurant
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Outstanding Baker
  • Outstanding Service
  • Outstanding Wines, Beer, or Spirits Professional
  • Outstanding Wine Program
  • Outstanding Bar Program
  • Best Chefs for each of the 10 Regions

For more information visit the Policies and Procedures page on the JBF website.

First Bite & Graziano Exhibit

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Today’s Press Herald examined how people’s first date food choices sometimes signal the fate of a relationship,

Carolyn is the sort of person with several small mason jars of excellent and varied loose leaves in her cupboard at any time. She knows how to brew a cup. The prospect of a lifetime of meals and hot beverages with a man who would serve Lipton’s tea (and on a first date, yet, the time one is most striving to impress) – well, suffice it to say, there was no second date.

and an article on the Graziano restaurant exhibit and Roux & Cyr Gallery.

Over Thanksgiving, Graziano and Poland photographer Michael McAllister spent two days in a half-dozen Portland restaurants, taking photos in the kitchen and on the floor. They capped their research with a meal at the Grill Room. Using the photos as source material, Graziano made two dozen oil paintings from his experience. They hang this month at Roux & Cyr International Fine Art Gallery on Free Street in Portland. In March, the gallery will show McAllister’s photos.

Restaurant Design

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

An article in the Bangor Daily News explores the role design plays in the success of a restaurant,

In a booming dining city such as Portland, where new restaurants open monthly, restaurateurs need more than a hot chef to keep their rooms full. Intrigue created through lighting, tone, decor — all the elements of design create a subtle theater that seduces diners as they indulge and quaff.

“These days, if everyone is Instagramming their meals and the restaurant space, you know you’re doing something right,” Jim Brady, developer and co-owner of UNION at The Press Hotel, said.

Roustabout, Union, Evo, Grace are all cited in the article.

Pine Pitch Press: Narrative Cookbook

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

pinepitchPine Pitch Press has put out an open call for submissions for their newest book, a Maine narrative cookbook.

If you want to test the limits of your gluten allergy, or figure out how your mom made that birthday cake, or recreate the first meal you made in college that wasn’t in a hot pot, here’s your chance. We don’t want to just hear your golden-hued memories of Nana’s Thanksgiving stuffing (though we do want that). We want the recipe for the lasagna you can only make, for whatever reason, when you’re sad. We want the special sauce for your third straight loss in the town BBQ championship. We want, above all, to hear not just how you make something but how you make it yours.

The narrative part? Well, that’s up to you. Basically, it’s anything that’s not pure instruction.Tell us how you found the ingredients. Or cut and paste a poem from the back of the Barilla box. Or shoot a photo essay of all the people that pass by your door while you’re waiting on the beef bourguignon. There has to be a recipe that is somewhat make-able and then…something else. We’re ready to be surprised and confused.

Pine Pitch Press is based in Portland. They specialize in “publishing the written, drawn or otherwise printable in small-batch anthologies”.

Portland Restaurant Staff Meals

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Today’s Press Herald features a behind the scenes look at restaurant staff meals.

Staff meal, or family meal, is a longstanding restaurant tradition of serving the staff lunch or dinner. Restaurant workers can’t leave their jobs during a shift to grab a sandwich if they get hungry like office workers sometimes do. They are either prepping furiously for service or serving customers. The practice of staff meal varies widely, from elaborate meals where staff gather together around a communal table, to a big discount on anything ordered off the regular menu, to nothing at all. The food is often leftovers, combined with what’s available in the walk-in, and is prepared by the kitchen staff.

Good Shepherd Food Bank

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Today’s Sunday Telegram includes a feature article on extensive infrastructure built and good works done by the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

A multimillion-dollar food distribution network is expanding in Maine to meet the needs of more than 200,000 residents who otherwise would be hungry, a condition that’s worsening despite an overall improving economy.

Eater Maine Discontinued

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Eater Maine announced earlier today that, effective immediately, they plan discontinue their coverage of Maine food news on the site. Editor Adam Callaghan is moving to Washington State take on responsibility for Eater Seattle.

As of today, Eater Maine will discontinue the food and restaurant world coverage that’s been our modus operandi since 2012. As editor, I’m sad to see the site go. It’s been a distinct pleasure for me to play a role in Maine’s growing food scene, which changed so drastically from when I was growing up here to when I returned as an adult five years ago. Come Monday, the site will deliver periodic updates to important maps, but no daily food news. Eater.com and Eater Boston will continue on as news resources for northeastern food culture.

Zoning Blocks Brewery Snack Sales

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

The Press Herald reports that Portland zoning on Industrial Way currently blocks breweries from selling pretzels and other packaged snacks with their beer.

A city zoning administrator has denied the Allagash Brewing Co.’s request to sell prepackaged snacks – such as chips, popcorn and trail mix – to beer tasters at the company’s brewery on Industrial Way, an area that has become a hotbed for beer enthusiasts who flock to its cluster of breweries to sample and buy fresh beer and ale. An Allagash representative will appear Thursday before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to try to have the ruling overturned.

“We’re not trying to expand our business,” said Jill Perry, Allagash’s retail manager. “We’re just trying to be responsible purveyors of alcohol.”

(Un)Dress Code

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

This week’s Portland Phoenix explores the absence of dress codes at Portland restaurants.

While big cities like New York or Chicago still maintain a few restaurants with dress codes, even Portland’s finest establishments take a relaxed attitude toward customer appearance. Is the dining scene here too casual?

 

Year In Review: Best New Restaurant, Trends, Most Popular Articles and Restaurants, Obituaries

Friday, January 1st, 2016

thehoneypaw

I’ve scanned through the records for the past year and here’s my summary of the key events and trends. Perhaps I’ve just gotten acclimated to the pace, but 2015 seemed a touch less fast paced than 2014 0r 2013 had been.

  • Best New Restaurant – The Honey Paw is a shear pleasure to dine at. The excellent food crafted by a chefs who are clearly passionate about what they do, warm hospitality provided by the friendly professional staff and high energy beautiful space make it easy to select The Honey Paw as the best new restaurant of 2015.
  • Breweries/Distilleries – The brewing and distilling industries are a growing and vital part of the Portland area food community.  The city is home to 13 breweries, 3 distilleries. More are on their way. Fore River Brewing, Mast Landing Brewing, Gruit, Foulmouthed Brewing, Second Pint Brewing and Lone Pine Brewing are all under development as are Hardshore Distilling, Stroudwater Spirits and a tasting room for the Mid-coast’s Cellardoor Winery. Insert your favorite Neal Dow rolling in his grave reference here as it’s joyously well justified.
  • Washington Ave – The little in-town stretch of Washington Ave had been a bit of a backwater for many years. All that changed in 2015. Oxbow, Maine & Loire, Terlingua, Roustabout all opened. A Lively Palate, the Drifter’s Wife, a honey production facility and Hardshore Distillery are under construction and other projects are in earlier stages of development. Nearby on Congress Street Lee Farrington is opening LB Kitchen and down the hill in East Bayside I expect we’ll see continued businesses development including Lone Pine Brewing and perhaps a restaurant on the first floor of the new building on the corner of Anderson and Fox.
  • The Suburbs – restaurateurs and food entrepreneurs aren’t limiting their horizons to the Portland peninsula. As good locations in town become more scarce and their rental rates go up there’s been a renewed interest in the outer neighborhoods of Portland and the suburbs:
    • Mitchell Kaldrovitch opened MK Kitchen in Gorham
    • In Westbrook Catbird Creamery reopened, Northspore and Rosen’s moved in and Mast Landing Brewing is under development
    • Custom Deluxe, Biscuit & Co, Round Turn Distilling and Portland Pie joined the Palace Diner, Elements and Rabelais Books in Biddeford.
    • Fore River Brewing and Foulmouthed Brewing choose to locate in South Portland.
    • Scarborough has provided a home for El Rayo, Casco Bay Butter and On the Vine Market.
    • The development of Thompson Point has resulted in a flurry of announcements including a tasting room for Cellardoor, Stroudwater Spirits, The Point, The Rink and at least 2 more new businesses are expected to announce plans for Thompson’s Point in 2016.
    • I think the upcoming opening of Woodford Food & Beverage is just the first of many new restaurants we’ll see open on that stretch of outer Forest Ave in the next few years.
  • woodfordsUpcoming in 2016 – The pace of new restaurant and bar projects looks likely to continue in 2016 unabated. 30+ new ventures are already being tracked on the PFM Under Construction list and I’m aware of several other ventures in earlier stages of development. The ones I’m most looking forward to in 2016 are:
    • The Purple House – Krista Kern Desjarlais’ wood-fired bakery and cafe in North Yarmouth.
    • Scales – Sam Hayward and Dana Street’s new waterfront 145-seat “American brasserie”.
    • Rhum – a tiki bar being launched by Jason Loring and Michael Fraser with the strong team of chef Frank Anderson, front of house manager Rebecca Ambrosi and bar manager Sam Babcock.
    • Drifter’s Wife – the new natural wine bar being constructed by Maine & Loire in the front half of their retail space on Washington Ave.
    • Woodford F&B – a neighborhood restaurant under development in Woodford Square.

Notable Events of 2015

Top 10 Articles

  1. Other Side Delicatessen – first word on Pete Sultenfuss’ plans to open the Other Side Delicatessen (January 5)
  2. Woodfords F&B – details on Woodford menu and floor plan (July 17)
  3. Taco Trio in Riverton – first word on Taco Trio’s plans to open a 2nd location (June 8)
  4. The Honey Paw – opening of Honey Paw (April 15)
  5. Roustabout – first word on Roustabout (May 15)
  6. Snowmageddon – the PFM round-up of eateries open during Snowmageddon (January 17)
  7. Maine & Loire – opening announcement for Maine & Loire (January 5)
  8. Rosen’s in Westbrook – initial report on Rosen’s Deli plans to open in Westbrook (April 13)
  9. Chez Okapi – announcement that Congolese restaurant Chez Okapi is open (October 5)
  10. Petite Jacqueline – report that Petite Jacqueline is moving (July 25)

Top 25 Restaurants

  1. Isa (-)
  2. The Honey Paw (-)
  3. Terlingua (-)
  4. Sur Lie (21)
  5. Tiqa (-)
  6. Bao Bao Dumpling House (8)
  7. East Ender (18)
  8. Union (-)
  9. Evo (-)
  10. Ebb & Flow (37)
  11. Abilene (-)
  12. Tempo Dulu (-)
  13. The Treehouse (-)
  14. Central Provisions (1)
  15. Five Fifty-Five (17)
  16. Empire Chinese Kitchen (5)
  17. Piccolo (14)
  18. Lolita (6)
  19. Outliers Eatery (7)
  20. Petite Jacqueline (22)
  21. Back Bay Grill (10)
  22. ArtemisiaCafe (42)
  23. Walter’s (35)
  24. Figgy’s (-)
  25. Caiola’s (11)

The numbers in parentheses indicate their rank last year. The order of the list is determined by the number of times these restaurants were looked up on PFM during the year.

Passings

For some other perspectives on the past year see The Golden Dish, Eater Maine, Portland Phoenix and Peter Peter Portland Eater.

Here are links to the Portland Food Map year in review reports for 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

The Changing Face of Washington Ave

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

The Press Herald has published a report on the fast pace of business development on Washington Ave.

In just the past year, two new restaurants have opened, as well as a beer tasting room and a wine shop. Other projects are in the works: a wine bar, a distillery, a wholesale honey production facility, and a cafe and chocolatier. Still in the rumor mill: a new juice bar and another restaurant.

SMCC Culinary Program

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

The Bangor Daily News has published an article on the SMCC Culinary Arts program.

It’s finals week at Southern Maine Community College, and students in the culinary arts kitchen are busy fricasseeing fresh rabbit harvested from Unity.

In the dining room, members of the public dig into a multicourse lunch, draining bowls of honey crisp apple and vidalia sweet onion soup. The impressive menu indicates that cider from Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner and apples from Cornish combine forces for the powerful dish.

Retail Social Media Controversy

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Today’s Press Herald reports on the recent social media smear campaign of several beer and wine retailers, and controversy over its origins.

On Thursday, a few profiles left one-star reviews on the pages of local retailers such as Bier Cellar, RSVP Discount Beverage, Rosemont Market and Bakery, Craft Beer Cellar and Old Port Wine Merchant. Dozens of other one-star reviews have been posted since, leading to arguments about the reviews and who is responsible for them.

The ruckus has erupted into a social media back-and-forth among the retailers, and highlights the importance of online reputations while offering a cautionary tale for businesses that hire contractors to manage their social media presence.

Under New Ownership: Expectations vs Vision

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

An article in this month’s issue of Dispatch examines the challenges new owners face when taking over an existing restaurant–putting in place their vision while trying to retain an established customer base. Specifically the article looks at the purchase of Steve & Renees Diner and the conversion of Quatrucci’s to Other Side Deli.

Two people would come in and sit at a table for six, drink a pot of coffee over the course of an hour, and leave without ordering food. This is their preferred method of protest.”

Such is how Josh Bankhead, who owns and operates Hella Good Tacos in Portland with his wife Melissa, describes the war waged on them by estranged patrons, mostly senior citizens, upon their purchase of the venerable Portland institution, Steve & Renee’s Diner.

You Dine, We Donate

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Hugo’s, Eventide and The Honey Paw are partnering with the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital program You Dine, We Donate to raise $10,000 during the month of December.

5% of each check at the three restaurants will be donated to the hospital. Arlin Smith, Mike Smith, and Andrew Taylor, owners of Big Tree Hospitality Group, “will contribute a minimum of $10,000”.

Restaurant co-owners Andrew Taylor, Arlin Smith and Mike Wiley feel strongly about partnering about You Dine. We Donate. because they know how important the BBCH is to their local community. Taylor says, “My oldest son was a patient at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital as an infant and the warmth and incredible care meant so much to my wife and I during a difficult time. This is such a great opportunity for us to give back.”

Co-owner Smith says the partnership was a no-brainer. “We have children. Our employees have children. We feel good about supporting such an important institution in our community.” As a non-profit hospital, the BBCH relies on community support to provide world-class healthcare to all children, regardless of their families’ ability to pay.