2019 Beard Award Semifinalists

The list of semifinal nominees for the 2019 James Beard Foundation awards were released today. There are 9/10 semifinalist nominees from Maine:

  • Best Chef: Northeast – Vien Dobui, Cong Tu Bot; Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell, Palace Diner; Krista Kern Desjarlais, The Purple House; Erin French, The Lost Kitchen; Keiko Suzuki Steinberger, Suzuki’s Sushi Bar.
  • Outstanding Restaurant – Fore Street
  • Outstanding Baker – Alison Pray, Standard Baking
  • Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits Professional – Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co.
  • Outstanding Service – Back Bay Grill

The final list of nominees will be released on March 27th, and the awards ceremony will take place on May 6th in Chicago.

Related information:

Interview with John Naylor

Winsight has published an interview with Rosemont co-owner John Naylor.

WGB: What do you consider to be most special about your company, and what are you most proud of?
JN: Our role in our communities is what I’m most proud of; our tag line is “good food from people you know,” and for 15 years, we’ve kept our commitment to that mission even as we’ve grown.
In 2018, we did about $2.5 million in local produce from about 55 different independent farms. Our customers love that we stay as seasonal and as local as we can, from produce to wine and cheese to having our own butcher shop and working with local fisheries. They get excited when we spread the word via social media about the latest arrivals—they’re very involved!

Under Construction: Ada’s Kitchen

Rockland-based restaurant Ada’s Kitchen (website, instagram) has leased space in Portland where they plan to open second restaurant. The 2,500 sq ft space is located in the Lafayette Apartment Building in between The Jewel Box and Sagamore Hill.

The chef, Siddharta Rumma, and owner Jenn Rockwell are still in the planning stages, so additional details will be forthcoming.

Under Construction: Brewery Extrava

Carla Jean Lauter has published a report on MaineToday.com that a new brewery called Brewery Extrava is slated for Cove Street. in East Bayside.

Brewery Extrava, a new Belgian-inspired brewery will join the so-called Yeast Bayside neighborhood in late spring, offering a contrast in style from the hop-forward portfolio of many of the area’s new breweries. The name is a combination of Latin roots that means “to come from exploration and examination.” Brewery Extrava plans to offer both traditional and innovative variations of Belgian and other international beer styles, including mixed fermentation and barrel-aged beers.

According to the article, Brewery Extrava (website, facebook, instagram) hopes to open in mid-June.

This Week’s Events: $3 Deweys, Giant, Beard Award Semifinalists, Maine Restaurant Week

Tuesday – Chef Paolo Laboa from Solo Italiano will be teaching a sold out pasta making class.

Wednesday – The semifinalist list for this year’s James Beard Awards are due out; check back here midday for a full list of the Maine chefs and restaurants that were included. Andrew and Briana Volk will be speaking at the Public Library about their book Northern Hospitality.

Thursday – The Maine Restaurant Week Incredible Breakfast Cook-off competition takes place, Liquid Riot is hosting chefs from 6 restaurants for a Chicken Wing Challenge, and Maine & Loire is holding a Women Winemakers wine tasting.

Friday – Both Three Dollar Deweys and Giant are opening on e Friday. It’s the first full day of  this year’s Maine Restaurant Week. The New England Craft Brew Summit is taking place, and Giant is holding a wine tasting.

Saturday – the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

Local Hot Sauce Production

The Food & Dining section in today’s paper reports on the growing number of restaurants producing and bottling their own hot sauces.

Now, interest in hot sauce is soaring in Maine kitchens and chefs are playing around with peppers, making their own sauces to serve and sell – traditional vinegar-based hot sauces as well as fermented ones. And it’s not just a Portland craze; restaurants from Tao Yuan in Brunswick to Anju Noodle Bar in Kittery are impressing hot sauce-loving diners with their in-house creations. Local entrepreneurs who are part of the hot sauce subculture are developing new lines of sauces for the marketplace, and at least three Maine farms are growing peppers destined for bottles of hot sauce.

Review of Crunchy Poke

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Crunchy Poké.

Like most contemporary poké spots, Crunchy Poké takes inspiration from Asian cooking to inflect its menu. Here, owner/chef Tien Nguyen delivers a Japanese-inspired gloss on the dish, serving a few great bowls, like cubed salmon dressed in Kewpie-mayo and served over a sweet, brown-rice-and-quinoa blend, and a Maine lobster bowl that gets an acidic kick from a soy-and-vinegar-based sauce. Weirdly, tonkotsku (slow-cooked pork belly) ramen is among Crunchy Poké’s best dishes, and while it does not fit with the business’s focus on sustainability, local sourcing or healthy eating – or even poké, for that matter – it is a slurpable, savory-smoky treat.

Pizza Villa Changing Hands

Brothers Sam and Rob Minervino recently signed a lease for Pizza Villa after extended discussions and coordination with Maine Med, and with the Regios brothers who own the restaurant.

The Minervinos plan to do some minor renovations, but otherwise keep things going as they are once takeover. Maine Med is in the process of buying the building and is expected to complete the transaction later this month.

Pizza Villa was founded in 1965 by Mike Regios and is currently owned and operated by his sons Tony and Phil. Various members of the Minervino family own Samuels on Forest Ave, Tomasso’s on Hampshire St, and Legend’s Rest in Westbrook.