The Hugo's and Eventide Oyster signs painted on the sign of a brick building in Portland, Maine. Both are Maine James Beard award winners.

James Beard Award Maine: Its Fantastic Past & Present

We have history with the James Beard Award. Maine has long been a destination for incredible culinary experiences. From the seafood of Casco Bay to the farm-fresh ingredients of Downeast, Maine is home to some of the most renowned chefs and restaurants in the country.

Read more about fine dining in Maine here.

It’s no surprise that the state has earned numerous James Beard Awards over the years, recognizing its wealth of culinary talent. In this post, we’ll take a look at the chefs and restaurants who have been honored with prestigious James Beard Awards in Maine.

From big-name chefs to local favorites, these amazing eateries and chefs deserve recognition for their incredible contributions to the culinary arts. Read on to learn more about Maine’s award-winning chefs and restaurants.

James Beard Award Maine

Maine James Beard Award Nominees 2023

The James Beard Award medal, which has gone to many Maine chefs and restaurants.

Outstanding Restaurateur

Krista Cole, Sur Lie and Gather Restaurant, in Portland and Yarmouth

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME

Outstanding Hospitality

The Quarry, Monson, ME

Sur Lie, Portland, ME

Outstanding Bar

The Jewel Box, Portland, ME

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)

Sara Jenkins, Nina June, Rockport, ME

Jason LaVerdiere, Flux, Lisbon Falls, ME

Courtney Loreg, Woodford Food & Beverage, Portland, ME

Tony Pastor, Fore Street, Portland, ME

Isaul Perez, Isa, Portland, ME

James Beard Award Maine

A Little More Of Maine’s James Beard History

A fruit and cheese plate from Natalie's Restaurant in Maine which has been invited to cook at the James Beard house four times!

Maine really started upping its fine dining game about 20 or so years ago. Here’s a little bit of history about the James Beard winning and nominated restaurants and chefs in Maine.

Let’s start with the big names. Chef Rob Evans of Hugo’s in Portland, Maine (info on why Hugo’s is closed) is a two-time James Beard Award winner. His French-influenced American cuisine has earned him numerous accolades, including Best Chef: Northeast in 2008, and Best New Restaurant in 2002.

A couple of other well-known Maine chefs to receive recognition from the James Beard Awards are Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of the former Arrows restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine. Arrows was sold ages ago, and the chefs moved on to other restaurants in Portland.

Together, though, they won Best Chef: Northeast in 2010, and became a staple of the Maine culinary scene. Not the first, but definitely a strong influence on the fine dining farm-to-table movement in Maine.

A fine dining table setting with a black plate, perhaps James Beard award worthy.

But it’s not only big-name chefs in Portland that have been recognized for their work. Plenty of restaurants around the state have been honored with James Beard Awards and nominations, from Brooksville (Bagaduce Lunch) to Freedom (Lost Kitchen).

Primo, located in Rockland, Maine and run by chefs Melissa Kelly (2009 & 2013 winner) and Price Kushner has earned multiple awards for its Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Over the years, both the chef and restaurant have won, and been nominated for, numerous awards.

Other well-known award-winning restaurants include Fore Street and Eventide Oyster Company in Portland. We will be digging deeper into Maine’s James Beard Award history over time.

A fine dining plate with a small cube of steak with sauce and garnish.

Conclusion: Maine James Beard Award Chefs & Restaurants

Maine’s James Beard Award-winning chefs and restaurants are a testament to the state’s culinary ingenuity and creativity. From fine dining to classic Maine diners, Maine’s chefs -awards winners or not–have created an amazing dining scene in the state.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable culinary experience in Maine, certainly our James Beard Award winners will provide you with exactly that.

So, the next time you are in Maine, explore all that it has to offer – including its amazing seafood and award-winning chefs and restaurants.