This Week’s Events: Beard Nominees, May the Fourth, Farmers’ Markets, Mother’s Day, Re-Openings

Monday – The Beard Foundation is announcing the nominees for this year’s awards program starting at 4 pm (see the list of Maine semifinalists here). Check back later today to see how many chefs and restaurants did. Piccolo is serving up their annual May the Fourth Be With You dinner as a takeout meal.

TuesdayPho Huong is launching their takeout service.

WednesdayBard Coffee will re-open for takeout from a window on Tommy’s Park, the weekday Deering Oaks Farmers’ Market is taking place, and the weekly EDL/Rad Plaid online happy hour series in continuing.

FridayTipo is re-opening for takeout (pre-order starting Monday).

Saturday – The weekend Deering Oaks Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday – It’s Mother’s Day; some restaurants are planning special takeout menu’s. Check with your favorite eateries to see what their offerings are. Central Provisions is re-opening for takeout (pre-order starting Monday).

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.

Solo Together: The Portland Symphony Un-Gala

In place of their annual 5-course wine dinner, the Portland Symphony Orchestra will be holding Solo Together which is being billed as a “virtual ‘un-gala’ experience that will bring performances of our world-class PSO musicians to your home”.

The idea is for members of the PSO community to “Order takeout from your favorite restaurant, grab a glass of wine or sparkling water, dress up in your best evening attire (or fanciest pajamas) and join us for a one-night only virtual performance and musical celebration right from your couch!”

Solo Together is scheduled to take place Thursday May 14th at 5:30 pm.

Register online to participate, and if you’re looking for ideas on where to get takeout from check-out the options on our takeout list.

The How and When of Re-Opening

For an article in today’s paper the Press Herald interviewed restaurant owners, managers and staff to understand the plans they’re making and uncertainties they’re working through as they decide how and when to re-open.

[Matt] Chappell [owner of Gather in Yarmouth] still has a lot of questions: Does the state-set limit of no more than 50 people gathering in one place at a time include the 10 cooks and servers who usually work a dinner service? Can he serve 50 people in his dining room and 50 more outside? What kind of limits will be set on the distance between tables, and the number of people allowed to sit at any one table? Will the public be skittish about dining out again?

Arabica Closes Commercial Street

Arabica Coffee has permanently closed their location on Commercial Street. They are relocating their bakery to their Free Street coffee shop which is scheduled to re-open on June 1st.

Arabica is also in the process of leasing a new space for their roastery which will also include a new coffee bar. Additional details on the new location will be released later.

Group Advocates Earlier Opening Date for Restaurants

The Press Herald reports that an organization called the Restaurant Workers of Maine sent a letter to the Governor sharing concerns that “the industry could collapse if restaurants are not allowed to operate at full capacity by July 1”.

The group, which says it has 5,000 members since forming in 2017, wants the state to allow the industry to reopen in mid-May rather than having to go an entire month with curbside pickup only and entering June not knowing what levels of customer capacity will be allowed inside eating establishments. The letter asks the governor to evaluate COVID-19 activity levels every two weeks and to make adjustments accordingly, rather than her phased reopening that goes month by month.

Maine Chopped Success

The Boston Globe has published an article about the participation by Maine chefs in the television show Chopped and identifies some of the roots of Maine chef’s success on the show.

Maine’s numerous “Chopped” champions include chefs Matt Ginn of Evo Kitchen + Bar and Chebeague Island Inn, Christian Hayes of Dandelion Catering Co. and The Garrison, Rob Evans of Duckfat, Natalie DiBenedetto of Figgy’s Takeout and Catering, butcher Elise Miller, then of Duckfat and now at Rosemont Market & Bakery, and Melissa (“Missy”) Corey, who won in 2012 when working as a cook at Duckfat and has since moved out of state. Native Mainer Rachel Legloahec also won “Chopped” when she was a chef in Las Vegas. She now owns Weft and Warp, a shop that crafts leather knife rolls for chefs, in Freeport.

Many other Maine chefs have participated — and received plenty of positive feedback, but in the end, didn’t escape the Chopping Block.